Paradox is a Swedish game publisher and game developer with sales of just over SEK 1.4 billion last year, with development offices in Stockholm, Malmö, Umea, Delft in the Netherlands, Seattle of America and Berkeley, Barcelona of Spain, Tampere of Finland and in Paris, France.
The irony is behind such successful series as “Global Europe” and “Crusader Kings”. Most of the games were PC exclusives, something that is starting to change.
“Console games have become increasingly important to us and in 2019 accounted for 15 percent of our total revenue. We expect this revenue to continue to increase in the future,” the then CEO wrote in the 2019 Annual Report.
In the past year, attention has been drawn to problems with terminology and ruler techniques that have mainly affected women in the company. At the beginning of the year, the company released a report by Gender Balance, with a number of action points to address the issue.
Some types of games are somewhat synonymous with computers, keyboards, and mice. One of them is the so-called “grand strategy”, in which politics, economics and resource management often influence the outcome on the battlefield. Swedish Paradox entered the genre, and therefore also in computer players.
But in 2019, the focus on consoles increased, when the space strategy game “Stellaris” was launched for Xbox and Playstation. Later, the turn-based “Age of Wonders: Planetfall” was also released.
Working from the couch?
“One of our biggest concerns when we started this project was: Will players want to play games like this from the couch, when most people are convinced that you’re playing too advanced leaning on the screen, too intensely,” says Alexander Oltner, director and designer at Paradox Interactive.
Now it’s time for one of the company’s big games – “Crusader kings 3” – to enter the console world, with British Lab42 primarily responsible for the transfer. The PC version, released a year and a half ago, has an impressive 91 on Metacritic, which collects critics’ ratings. It was recently announced that 2 million copies of the game have been sold, and it is Paradox’s fastest selling game to date.
The player controls a ruler – such as a king or vassal – and his lineage through 600 years of history.
– I like to describe him as the creator of medieval soap operas, because the focus is on family drama and all these relationships between tens of thousands of characters that drive the story forward. You lead a dynasty and your family through history, Oltner says, and you lead your family to greatness or collapse.
There are many issues with moving – ie adapting – a strategy game with a console. On the one hand, all menus have to be navigated using manual control, and on the other hand, you can’t make the text too small, since it has to be readable on TV. Unlike other strategy titles available on console, such as “Civilization”, “Crusader kings 3” takes place in real time.
Reaching out to a new group of players is of course the business logic behind Paradox’s console project, but it also means targeting a group unfamiliar with grand strategy.
It can be a little confusing as to what to do, but it’s grateful, because you only need to share what you want, says Oltner.
In addition to knowing the control table and a new interface, the developers gave a lot of thought to the learning process in general.
After all, it’s a whole new way to use control, and it’s one of the first things to teach. Meanwhile, you have to learn how to play, he says.
Could be more games
But Oltner points out, it’s neither easier nor more difficult than the PC version.
– The only significant difference is that on the console you can ask the AI to take over and control your armies for you. It’s a compromise because of the manual control, some players might not think it was fun to move devices when you have to be reactive and fast.
“Stellaris” showed that even console players want to be great strategists, something that can be confirmed with “Crusader kings 3”. It is envisaged that the company’s other major series such as “Europa universalis”, “Victoria” and “Hearts of iron” will eventually reach the consoles.
– I hope the future is bright. It remains to be seen if people will adopt the genre, but I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t have a future, says Alexander Oltner.
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