Redfall failure

Xbox admits Redfall launch was a failure, here’s why

By Olivia Richman

|

Jun 13, 2023

Reading time: 2 min

Redfall was a highly anticipated game that ended up flopping upon release. Now, Xbox Games Studios has discussed what the team feels went wrong with the supernatural shooter.

Redfall launched in May 2023 and was instantly bombarded with negative reviews. While the technical issues, bugs, and laggy gameplay were definitely frustrating, the game itself was often described as a bit boring, uninspired, and underwhelming. The combat is frustrating and the enemy AI is disappointing.

Xbox Games Studios executive Matt Booty discussed the sad launch of Redfall with IGN amidst a lot of AAA failures over the past few years.

What went wrong with Redfall?

Booty explained to IGN that being a first-party game is what may have ultimately led to Redfall’s demise. Essentially, Xbox owns a lot of studios and those studios become first-party at that point. As a first-party company, the games they release are held in a “different spotlight,” and there are larger expectations.

“If I were to look back, where I feel a little remiss on the Redfall thing, that project was started before we acquired ZeniMax, and I think we could have done a better job of onboarding them,” said Booty. “If I were to take a post-it note back in time in my little time machine to 2017, it’d be, ‘Make sure that everybody understands that they don’t get to just ship a game as Double Fine or as inXile anymore.’ They’re going to be looked at as part of first-party.”

Due to this disconnect, Booty said that ZeniMax’s team had “tunnel vision” around the Arkane team’s game while Xbox management was possibly too far removed. This strange dynamic may have caused some confusion between everyone involved. He claimed that the gameplay and mock reviews indicated that “it was going to perform better than it did” so there was possibly some miscommunication or misunderstanding during the process.

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Bloomberg reported in May that there were some Arkane developers that didn’t want to work on Redfall at all. While leaders wanted to create a multiplayer experience, most of the developers had only ever worked on single-player games, so 70% of the employees ended up leaving. When it came time to replace developers, most of the applicants also specialized in single-player games.

As a result, the game suffered from a lack of multiplayer know-how. Still, ZeniMax management continued to push for Redfall to be multiplayer, which could be the “tunnel vision” Booty mentioned.

Booty said that Redfall’s failure is on him and ZeniMax head James Leder. He added that gamers should not blame developers and was frustrated that they were “coming under all this for their game.” Knowing this, however, Booty said that he’s looking at how to support the team as they go through this and see what can be learned from the experience.

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