Redfall launched last month to some of the lowest review scores and player reception of the year. The co-op vampire-slaying action game from Dishonored studio Arkane was hyped by Microsoft as one of the first big AAA current-gen releases for Xbox, though it has since been ridiculed for its numerous performance issues, technical hiccups and unfinished state. A new report from Bloomberg has now shed some light on the game’s tumultuous development – particularly how some devs hoped it would be cancelled or rebooted by Microsoft.
The report from Bloomberg reporter Jason Schreier documents accounts from over a dozen anonymous sources at Arkane that worked on Redfall, giving us a better idea about its development setbacks and shortcomings. The idea for Redfall was apparently first pitched in 2018 as a “multiplayer Arkane game.” According to Bloomberg, some developers were unsure how Arkane’s signature gameplay would translate to a co-op setting, calling it confusing.
When development on Redfall began, Bethesda’s parent company ZeniMax apparently pushed its studios to focus on live-service titles. According to Bloomberg, Redfall has a “significant” microtransaction plan in place for almost three years before it was scrapped sometime in 2021. In that same year, Microsoft acquired ZeniMax for $7.5 billion. Arkane’s developers hoped that Xbox would step in to either cancel or reboot the project after the acquisition, but Xbox boss Phil Spencer previously stated that they had little intervention in the game’s creative process, choosing to trust the studio.
Redfall‘s development also suffered because it was continually understaffed. Fewer than 100 employees at Arkane Austin reportedly worked on the title but had “insufficient outsourcing” support from Bethesda. Around this time, several experienced Arkane developers left the studio as they weren’t interested in making a multiplayer game. Almost three quarters of the staff that worked on 2017’s Prey apparently left Arkane by the time Redfall was completed.
The hiring process reportedly wasn’t easy as several prospective employees wanted to work on single-player immersive sims and might’ve been turned away by Redfall‘s multiplayer ambitions. As such, Arkane had difficulties filling vacancies at the studio, not to mention that it was situated in Texas which made it difficult to source out experienced developers.
Arkane and Xbox have yet to respond to the Bloomberg report and findings.
Redfall is currently available on Xbox Series X/S and PC.