Redfall was allegedly plagued by staffing & direction issues throughout development

The frustration and strain of Redfall's development reportedly caused 70 percent of Arkane Austin's staff to leave by the time it released.

Image via Arkane Studios

It’s safe to say Arkane’s Redfall didn’t turn out as expected, but a new report allegedly reveals a number of major factors as to why. According to recent reporting, Arkane Austin faced numerous frustrations from the very conception of Redfall to its launch, including staffing issues, conflicted direction from management, and a lack of necessary resources to deliver on the hazy vision of the game.

This report comes out of Bloomberg, which did a deep dive into what went wrong with Redfall following its release. The short answer is allegedly everything. When Redfall was conceived, it was at the time when ZeniMax was looking to sell. With Microsoft on the table as a suitor, ZeniMax nudged its studios to pitch and shift towards live-service games in which microtransactions could be included. Arkane took this and pitched a game in which players would fight vampires and perhaps pick up premium cosmetic upgrades through microtransactions along the way. It didn’t help that Arkane was looking to appeal to broader audiences after Arkane’s previous title Prey was financially unsuccessful in 2017 despite being critically beloved.

Players fighting floating vampires in Redfall
Redfall's eventual launch was a mess of game-breaking bugs and glitches that included poor in-game context and bad enemy AI.
Source: Arkane Studios

Unfortunately, Arkane ran into a multitude of issues throughout Redfall’s development cycle. Regularly shifting direction of Redfall from leadership with conflicting visions of what the game should be kept the developers uncertain of what they were even creating, especially as a team that had been focused on single-player games up to that point. In this regard, Arkane was also understaffed for a multiplayer game, having to outsource work to third-parties regularly. It also couldn’t attract multiplayer developers to aid in the process, partially due to applicants wanting to join Arkane to work on a single-player experience and partially because ZeniMax allegedly paid under the average for developer work.

As the Microsoft acquisition of Bethesda and all of its studios loomed, Arkane devs allegedly hoped that the tech giant would either cancel the game or allow them to reboot it. Unfortunately, for better or worse, Microsoft stayed hands-off after the acquisition was complete and morale continued to suffer, leading to nearly 70 percent of the staff at Arkane who worked on Prey leaving the studio.

Ultimately, the plethora of issues laid out in Bloomberg’s report can be seen on the bottom line. Redfall was a mess and a hugely rare miss for Arkane. It remains to be seen if Microsoft, Bethesda, or Arkane have the gumption to salvage the game, but given the critical and player response, it may already be too late. Stay tuned as we continue to follow this story for further updates.

Senior News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player and writer with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. He found his way to the Shacknews roster in late 2019 and has worked his way to Senior News Editor since. Between news coverage, he also aides notably in livestream projects like the indie game-focused Indie-licious, the Shacknews Stimulus Games, and the Shacknews Dump. You can reach him at and also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

From The Chatty
    • reply
      June 1, 2023 9:05 AM

      I’m okay with redfall being a stinker as it didn’t seem like a game I wanted to play in the first place, but 70% of the people leaving that worked on great games like Prey IS a loss. I don’t know if Arkane Austin will ever recover from such a brain drain.

      I guess indirectly MS was to blame for this mess.

      It started before them due to the acquisition but continued well into their reign. They heavily promoted the game. They could have seen how it was going.

      • reply
        June 1, 2023 9:11 AM

        I strongly suggest reading the Bloomberg article. Microsoft was hands off. Zenimax encouraged a multiplayer game but did not mandate it. The big takeaway here is the leadership pitched an unfinished and bad idea, drove away experienced developers and promised the "magic" would make the game good. The design was never clear, and the people working on the project hoped Microsoft would cancel it.

      • reply
        June 1, 2023 10:19 AM

        Yea a coop vampire shooter? lol, yea it would have sucked if it was a dishonored game or something

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