Microsoft's release of Redfall for the Xbox shocked Arkane, the studio making the troubled title.
Redfall received plenty of backlash after it dropped, and Microsoft has apologized for the sorry state of the game. However, new reports reveal that the developers within Arcane Studios, the studio that developed the game, hoped that Microsoft would cancel or reboot the game entirely. Unfortunately, none of that came to pass.
According to VGC, Redfall was plagued with unclear direction and staffing issues during the game’s development, which subsequently led to several delays and a worrying number of technical difficulties that plagued the game following its release. Apparently, the poor state of the game can also be credited to limited resources for a triple-A development and a marketing gimmick to attract the fans of Arkane Studio’s games, as well as an unclear conception of the project. Even the developers themselves were confused by the pitch.
Let’s start at the beginning; Arkane Studio is a great game-maker, and the company is known for producing the critically acclaimed Dishonored, which everyone should play, and the hidden gem that’s 2017’s Prey. The latter is not to be confused with 2006’s Prey; it’s not a sequel nor a spiritual successor to the game that Bethesda acquired and then canceled. However, Redfall started its development as a “multiplayer Arkane game,” which was an obvious sales pitch to the staff, and the fandom, especially those who enjoy Arkane’s games and multiplayer.
Unfortunately, the two didn’t combine well. Multiplayer looter-shooters aren’t really Arkane’s jam, and the genre is generally new to the development studio. But, the marketing trick employed by the publishers, which labeled Redfall as a “multiplayer Arkane game,” was clearly successful, at least initially. Further accounts from over a dozen anonymous sources have stated that the development suffered because the team was continuously understaffed, with less than 100 people working at the studio internally and without much support from Bethesda.
Bethesda is becoming increasingly recognized as a company that relies on the mind-reading skills of its employees and subsidiaries. Several internal and external artists have complained about the continuous lack of clear communication and support regarding various projects. This is subsequently followed by legal threats from the company’s legal representation when the end result isn’t per the company’s high expectations, which it allegedly failed to communicate, and while we don’t know whether this was the case with Redfall, it wouldn’t be surprising if it was true.
Lastly, many experienced developers just weren’t interested in making a multiplayer looter-shooter; almost three-quarters of developers left the studio from Redfall’s inception to its release. But the short horror list of back-end shortcomings isn’t so short. There are reports of high turnovers, lower-than-average salaries, and unclear expectations from the high-ups, not high expectations, but unclear, which is probably worse.
Luckily, the higher-ups at Xbox Game Studios and ZeniMax have taken full responsibility for Redfall’s failure and any miscommunication that happened during the game’s development—or at least they say they do. We just hope that the upcoming Starfield or teased Fable doesn’t suffer the same fate.