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Thursday, July 18, 2024

Remedy plans to release a new game each year from now on

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Finnish studio Remedy Entertainment was founded all the way back in 1995, 28 years ago, and in that time it’s released seven games: Death Rally, Max Payne, Max Payne 2, Alan Wake, Alan Wake’s American Nightmare, Quantum Break, and Control. That works out to one game every four years, which isn’t bad for a smaller, independent studio. But Remedy has plans to ramp that rate up considerably, beginning this year.

Through most of its history, Remedy was a one-game-a-time studio, but in recent years it’s expanded its capacity considerably. It’s now working on multiple projects simultaneously, including Alan Wake 2, a Control spinoff called Codename Condor, a “bigger-budget Control game” known as Codename Heron, and a service-based co-op multiplayer game codenamed Vanguard, for which it partnered with Tencent. The studio now has five “AAA games” in development, which is a major change from the pre-Control days.

“The move to this multi-project model has been going well, but we also have felt some growth pains with implementing our model, as was partially evidenced in summer 2022 with the additional time needed for the Vanguard project,” Remedy CEO Tero Virtala said in an investors report released today.

“Subsequently during 2022, we have taken our learnings and made changes: We have strengthened our game teams and adjusted their leadership roles, some outsourcing partnerships have been changed, there have been number of improvements how we plan and lead project-work, and we have developed the way company management oversees, supervises and supports our game projects.”

After managing a 32% profit margin through 2020 and 2021, Remedy plans to continue expanding: Virtala said the studio hired almost twice as many new employees in 2022 as it did in 2021, and “Looking ahead, we see the opportunity to keep on investing in personnel by hiring experienced, passionate and creative, challenge-driven individuals to drive our game projects onward.” All that extra staff isn’t just to help Remedy do more, but also to do things faster.

“The investments in our teams, Northlight game engine and tool set, support functions and external development are the key enablers for our next growth leap during the coming years,” Virtala said. “We are planning to launch a new game per year starting from 2023, accompanied by additional free and paid content.”

That’s a serious speed-up by any measure, particularly given how sudden it is: We had American Nightmare in 2012, Quantum Break in 2016, and Control in 2019; Remedy’s next game, Alan Wake 2, is expected this year. (Alan Wake Remastered and the Crossfire X singleplayer campaign happened in that period too, but I don’t consider them “new” games.) To move from that easygoing pace to hammering out a new game every year is a hell of a shift.

Alan Wake 2 is apparently still on schedule: Virtala said it is now in full production, will soon have all content in place and “is playable from start to finish.” Interestingly, he also said that Alan Wake Remastered, which launched in October 2021, still hasn’t generated any royalties, but he expects those sales will increase as Alan Wake 2 approaches release “and new players want to experience the original story on new generation consoles.”

Remedy isn’t the only studio aiming to speed up its pace of releases: CD Projekt said in October 2022 that it plans to release an all-new Witcher trilogy within a six-year period—that’s one full-scale Witcher RPG every two years. In the face of Cyberpunk 2077’s bad launch and the larger trend of continued game delays over the course of the pandemic, that’s certainly optimistic.

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