Dec 18, 2023 - Technology

The makers of The Finals don't want to over-promise

Video game screenshot of a masked character standing in front of a yellow wall

The Finals. Screenshot: Embark Studios/Nexon

Swedish game studio Embark is bucking industry trends around ongoing, live-service games and is not releasing a content road map for The Finals, its popular, new multiplayer first-person shooter.

Why it matters: Much of the games industry has been chasing live-service glory in recent years, seeking the dream of continuously updated games that continuously generate revenue. But developers have often found it tough to stick to their initial plans.

  • A common staple is the content road map, a publicly published grid that lays out the new content and modes players can expect for the next year. Many live service developers find themselves having to revise their grids.

What they're saying: "We better hold off with that sort of stuff and make promises we can keep," The Finals' creative director, Gustav Tilleby, tells Axios.

Details: The Finals emphasizes destructible environments and is one of 2023's surprise hits.

  • The game's publicly playable beta a month ago drew 7.5 million players.
  • After a surprise launch, announced during The Game Awards, the free-to-play game has been peaking at more than 150,000 concurrent players on Steam, charting ahead of juggernauts like Call of Duty.

Between the lines: Embark has been in operation for five years and spent nearly a year developing software tools for its games to allow for more rapid iteration — a key source to finding the fun.

  • The game's signature element is that players can destroy most of the structures in the game's levels. The mid-match destruction is reliant on servers that coordinate the spectacle of collapsing buildings and crushed walls for all players at once.
  • A small number of objects in The Finals aren't destructible and the ground is impenetrable. "We need to kind of draw the line somewhere," senior environment artist Joakim Stigsson tells Axios. "Otherwise we would have players digging holes."

State of play: Live service game dev remains volatile.

  • Ubisoft just had to shift some of its road map for 2019's The Division 2 into 2025.
  • Sony's Naughty Dog has nixed a Last of Us multiplayer game, saying it had to be a studio that makes single-player games or live service games, not both.
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