A PS5 version of upcoming Arkane shooter Redfall was reportedly scrapped by Microsoft. Speaking to IGN France, game director Harvey Smith revealed that one of the notable consequences of Microsoft acquiring Bethesda in 2021 was that the development focus for Redfall shifted entirely towards PC, Xbox, and Xbox Game Pass. “We were acquired by Microsoft and it was a change with capital C. They came in and said, ‘No PlayStation 5’,” Smith explained in the interview. Work on developer Arkane Austin’s upcoming vampire shooter commenced a year before the $7.5 billion (about Rs. 61,663 crore) acquisition of Bethesda-parent ZeniMax Media.
While Redfall was originally planned for release on all platforms, Smith doesn’t mind Microsoft’s decision to cancel the PS5 version. He notes that it’s “even a good decision,” as it helps to support Game Pass and frees the developers from having to worry about an entire platform. “…Game Pass has a ton of people that can play. It could be our biggest game ever because of the 30 million Game Pass [members] or whatever that number is,” he added. The news comes amidst Microsoft’s ongoing attempts to convince regulators to approve its $69 billion (about Rs. 5,67,745 crore) buyout of Activision Blizzard. The CMA (Competition and Markets Authority) previously concluded that the deal could harm gamers in the UK by reducing competition between Xbox and PlayStation — in the former’s favour.
While Redfall was announced in June 2021, long after the Microsoft and Bethesda merger, plans for a PlayStation version never came to light until now. Smith’s statement could potentially weaken Microsoft’s arguments in favour of the ongoing Activision acquisition even as it continues to claim that Call of Duty will be available on multiple platforms, instead of being turned into an exclusive. Microsoft, however, did strike a 10-year deal to bring Call of Duty and other Activision games to Nvidia’s gaming platform if the Xbox maker was allowed to complete its acquisition of Activision. The company also signed a similar arrangement with Nintendo in hopes to assuage regulators.
Microsoft previously adhered to timed launches for Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo on its Xbox consoles, long after their exclusivity periods on PC and PlayStation.
In a different interview, Smith also confirmed that despite the timing, Redfall has been built on Unreal Engine 4 — specifically Unreal Engine 4.26. As it turns out, Epic Games released Unreal Engine 5 halfway through Redfall’s development, which made transitioning at that stage extremely difficult. “If we had more time, we would have probably gone with UE5, but it was a lot of work just upgrading to 4.26,” he said. Developer Arkane Austin is also looking into removing the much frowned-upon always-online requirement from the game for solo mode, with Smith noting that it’s a “legitimate critique.” Smith realises that gamers with bad broadband do exist, and for that reason, he takes the initial backlash with empathy.
“We listen. And we have already started work to address this in the future. We have to do some things like encrypting your save games and do a bunch of UI work to support it,” he said in the interview. “And so we are looking into — I’m not supposed to promise anything — but we’re looking into and working actively toward fixing that in the future.” Redfall is an open-world co-op looter-shooter where you hunt down vampires who have blocked out sunlight from the titular island town. Smith cleared that there are no microtransactions or an in-game store in Redfall and that the always-online requirement exists to monitor player behaviour and come up with “accessibility stuff.”
“It allows us for telemetry, like — if everybody’s falling off ladders and dying, holy shit that shows up. And so we can go and tweak the ladder code. There are reasons we set out to do that that are not insidious,” he said, while assuring that the team has DLCs planned for the future.
Redfall releases May 2 on PC, Xbox Series S/X, and Xbox Game Pass.