Jason Schreier of Bloomberg has been doing some good old-fashioned journalism again, this time managing to speak to a dozen members of Arkane Austin about the difficult development of Redfall. His report reveals numerous intriguing details about the game, including that some members of staff hoped the game would be cancelled altogether.
According to Jason, the team quickly grew frustrated with the game’s two leads constantly referencing other games such as Borderlands and Far Cry, leaving the various departments confused about what exactly they were working on.
On top of that, Austin Arkane apparently suffered from staffing issues. Those who were not interested in developing a multiplayer game, understandably when you consider Arkane’s reputation is built on single-player titles, left the studio. This left them with a relatively small team that struggled to build a large multiplayer game. Schreier writes that “Even additional support from ZeniMax’s Wisconsin-based Roundhouse Studios and other outsourcing houses couldn’t fill the gaps,” His report goes on to suggest that by the end of Redfall’s development, 70% of the team worked on Prey had left.
But the damning piece of Jason’s report comes after Microsoft acquired Zenimax in 2021, and thus Arkane as well. Jason says “The acquisition gave some staff at Arkane hope that Microsoft might cancel Redfall or, better yet, let them reboot it as a single-player game, according to sources familiar with the production.”
It’s brutal to hear that people working on the game were hoping that it might get cancelled entirely. The lack of confidence in their product must have made working on it a gruelling experience.
The report also confirms prior speculation regarding Redfall being intended to ship with microtransactions in place. According to the people Schreier spoke to, Redfall spent its first 3 years with microtransactions planned as part of its design. In 2021, Zenimax shifted plans based on how much pushback the games as a service concept was getting.
Everything Jason reports paints a picture of a game that struggled to find a solid identity during development, and the final product speaks to that. I wound up describing Redfall as “Like a vampire sucking the blood from your veins, playing Redfall is a draining experience.” in my review, which I took no pleasure in saying considering my love for Arkane.
Hopefully, Arkane can return to producing something they truly want to create and Microsoft will be able to aid them in that process. I maintain hope that Dishonored 3 will happen.