Report: Redfall Development So Troubled Devs Hoped Microsoft Would Cancel

Games News Redfall
Report: Redfall Development So Troubled Devs Hoped Microsoft Would Cancel

A report by Jason Schreier for Bloomberg found that Arkane’s latest release Redfall had a very troubled development, plagued by unclear direction, publisher meddling, and understaffing.

Information on the game’s development was provided by numerous anonymous members of the game’s development team.

The multiplayer shooter, which released last month as one of the lowest-reviewed games of the year so far, was a product of studio mandate, with Arkane’s parent company ZeniMax pushing its developers to create live service games. Redfall was pitched in 2018 as a “multiplayer Arkane game,” a tagline which confused many of the staff due to Arkane’s reputation as a developer of single-player immersive sims.

The confusion continued, as numerous staff members said that poor communication and unclear direction from project leadership, including directors Harvey Smith and Ricardo Bare, left many unsure as to what kind of game they were actually making, exacerbating the multiplayer issue.

This lack of clear direction and forced multiplayer caused many veteran team members to leave the studio. Bloomberg’s analysis found that, by the end of Redfall’s development, roughly 70% of staff at the Austin, Texas studio who had worked on their previous game, Prey, had left the company. With the studio employing less than 100 people, they were woefully understaffed for a game on this scale. And finding new hires proved challenging, due to ZeniMax’s reputation for poor pay and Texas’s increasingly controversial conservative policies.

By 2020, development was so troubled that, following Microsoft’s acquisition of ZeniMax, many on staff hoped that Microsoft would cancel Redfall or reboot it as a single-player game.

But this did not happen. Development continued as usual, with Microsoft putting the pressure on by presenting Redfall as a headlining finale announcement at E3 2021. Issues continued, causing the game to be delayed multiple times from late 2022 into mid-2023, only to still release in a state most found disappointing.

For more details, read Schreier’s piece at Bloomberg.

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