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Redfall's development sure sounds like a hot mess, according to a new report

Things haven't quited worked out for Arkane's latest.

A recent report shed some light on what led to Redfall launching in the state it did, and it certainly didn't sound like it was smooth sailing.

Arkane Studios has long been known as a studio that makes games that have devoted fans, but are overall commercially unsuccessful. Unfortunately, though, Redfall launched in a rough state, things being so bad that Xbox head Phil Spencer had to comment on the matter. Now, a recent report from Bloomberg has offered some behind the scenes details on why Redfall ended up the way that it did, with it sounding like there were issues right from the beginning of development.

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According to Bloomberg, development on Redfall started in 2018, around the time that ZeniMax (which owns Bethesda and subsequently Arkane Studios) was looking to be acquired by another company. Around that same time it was apparently also encouraging studios it owned to develop live service titles, a trend that had recently started thanks to the popularity of titles like Fortnite and Overwatch.

While this wasn't mandatory, after Arkane Austin's 2017 release Prey was particularly unsuccessful commercially, the team was looking to make something more broadly appealing, leading to Redfall's concept (a multiplayer game where players face off against vampires) being created.

The biggest problem that staff was faced with immediately is that Arkane has historically been a single-player developer, while Redfall was pitched as a "multiplayer Arkane game," which some staff found confusing. There was also no clear sense of direction, with various departments having different ideas of what kind of game they were meant to be working on.

On top of this, Arkane was also massively understaffed, with the Austin studio only employing under 100 people, not enough for a multiplayer title. Hiring new staff was then a problem as the game hadn't been revealed yet, and most people applying would have done so under the impression they'd be working on more classic Arkane style titles. More frustratingly, ZeniMax also had a reputation for paying lower than average salaries.

Due to the general poor sense of morale, many members of staff began to leave, with Bloomberg reporting that around 70% of the staff at Arkane Austin that had worked on Prey were no longer at the company by the end of Redfall's development. Things were apparently so bad that when Microsoft eventually acquired ZeniMax, staff hoped that the former might outright cancel Redfall, or at least let them restart it as a singleplayer game - but Microsoft apparently took a hands off approach (other than saying Redfall could no longer launch on PS5).

Ultimately Redfall did launch as a multiplayer game, though improvements are meant to be coming to the game. So with the upcoming Xbox showcase, it seems pretty clear that the company needs a win.

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