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Paradox admit Tyranny sold below expectations, DLC still in the works

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Paradox admit Tyranny sold below expectations, DLC still in the works

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Tue 16 May 2017, 20:33:48

Tags: Fredrik Wester; Obsidian Entertainment; Paradox Interactive; Shams Jorjani; Tyranny

I was hoping we'd hear something about the upcoming Tyranny DLC at PDXCON, but nothing came of it. Luckily, the esteemed gentlemen at PCGamesN attended the event and took the time to ask Paradox CEO Fredrik Wester and VP Shams Jorjani about Obsidian's seemingly forgotten RPG. They confirmed what we've all suspected - that the game didn't sell very well - and speculated about the reasons. They also dropped a bit of innuendo about their relationship with Obsidian, although they still like them and it sounds like the DLC is still in the cards. Here's an excerpt from PCGamesN's interview:

“Tyranny did ok,” says Paradox CEO Fred Wester.

“We’re overall ok with it, I think,” echoes Shams Jorjani, Paradox’s vice president of business development. “Everyone was hoping that it would do better.”

In fact, Tyranny’s performance at release came in just under the Swedish publisher’s expectations.

“The game’s really solid, it still has a lot of interest,” Wester expands. “A lot of people are still on the fence to buy it. I think we will see a long tail on that game with people coming in and playing later on as well. But it didn’t really meet the expectations we set for it initially, no.”

Next question, then: why? Wester points to a tough launch window in November - a month in which other great games, including Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs 2, struggled to punch through the pre-Christmas noise. Jorjani thinks Tyranny’s timing issue goes much broader, arguing that the appetite for ‘90s style RPGs has already been somewhat sated through crowdfunding.

“Obsidian did a great job of capitalising on the timing of Kickstarter and the wave of nostalgia for these type of titles,” goes his hypothesis. “We've seen that most of the titles after Pillars of Eternity, if you look at Wasteland, Torment - they haven't been anywhere near that kind of success. So maybe it's that a lot of nostalgia fed into the initial bubble and that's why. These games have a market, but it's never gonna be that peak [again].”

[...] Wester shoulders the responsibility for Tyranny’s marketing, which ran with the slogan: 'Sometimes, evil wins.' It was an approach that wisely brought Tyranny’s twist on RPG morality to the fore - but didn’t touch so much on its singular world and cast.

“We might have emphasised the wrong things when we sold the game,” he says. “I don't know. It didn't really come up to what we thought it could.”

“It’s very dark,” offers Jorjani on the game’s theme. “It’s more niche in that sense, it absolutely is.”

[...] Jorjani does volunteer, however, that the two companies have had their “fair share of headbutting” over the course of their working relationship. It sounds as if Stockholm and California came together with a certain amount of chafing.

“I think there are slight cultural differences in how we work,” he theorises. “Sweden is consensus-driven, we try to have very flat hierarchies. It comes back to a lot of different factors but, at least at Paradox, we push a lot of major decisions down to people in the organisation. Not every company works that way. Some companies are not as comfortable with decisions being taken at that level, so they're pushed upwards. We end up with this weird situation where we can't have our CEO involved in every discussion.”

It’s important, too, to point out that Paradox aren’t in a position to publish everything Obsidian work on. Though the publisher’s profits increased 51% in the last year, they’re still small fry next to a Sega or Ubisoft.

“We talk to Obsidian all the time, we love them, but while our projects are much bigger today than they were three to five years ago, they do a lot of big projects that are far outside of the reach that we do,” says Jorjani. “That’s also a factor: what will they work on? What do we want to work on? Finding a good fit.

“But I'd definitely be open. We want to make RPGs that are the best in class. If we can get the other factors to work it will be great.”

[...] “In that respect we're quite happy,” says Jorjani. “It is a largely underappreciated gem. I think we see that also on the stats side of things. A lot of people have wishlisted the game, are very interested in it, but they know that they're not quite done with Pillars yet.

“I think that, hopefully, it will take off a bit more in the long-term sales. We'll see, if we get a couple of expansions out, if that changes anything.”

Jorjani does tease that Tyranny is structured in a modular fashion that makes it ideal for expansion.

“Our publishing voodoo allows us to keep the long tail going which make expansions a more viable proposition,” he notes. “We'll have a bit more news on this in the near future. But we'd love to revisit the world - it ended in a bit of a cliffhanger so there's definitely more to tell there. We'll see what people are asking for.”​

So yeah, no real surprises here, but it's always refreshing to see game developers speak frankly about these topics. Reading between the lines, it sounds like Shams Jorjani is saying that Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky's project was too costly for Paradox to fund. In another article on PCGameN, they also discuss the possibility of a Bloodlines sequel, which they aren't ready to do yet.

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