Bloober Team CEO Piotr Babieno can identify two turning points in the history of the Polish developer.
As he explains GamesIndustry.biz in a recent conversation, the first turning point came in 2014.
“We launched Basement Crawl for PS4, and in fact the game is very famous because it was the worst game on PS4 at the time,” says Babieno. “We made a multiplayer game and online multiplayer didn’t work properly.”
After repeating the game from scratch to fulfill their promises, the Bloober Team reflected on their career as a studio.
“We realized in 201
The company revolved around psychological horror games, had an Early Access hit with Layers of Fear, and has since earned a reputation with Observer, Layers of Fear 2, Blair Witch, and most recently PC and Xbox Series X | S exclusive The Medium.
Medium was actually the first of these horror games Bloober Team was perceived, but Babieno says it had to be burned back until more skilled hardware was available to help realize the team’s vision. Now that it is out and that the vision is fulfilled, Babieno says that 2021 marks a second turning point for the company.
“[Psychological horror] is still in our DNA, “says Babieno. We will still have this taste of making games, but we will tell our stories more with action. Therefore, our future projects will be more from a first-person perspective, such as The Medium. We get much more advanced game mechanics. “
The Medium is “a project on the edge” for the Bloober Team, which extends beyond the company’s old approach and its new one. Babieno says the studio plans to make “advanced AA games with AAA quality graphics and animation, but of course a little smaller.”
He adds: “In fact, we’ve been working for more than a year on another game project, another horror IP, and we’re doing this with a very well known game publisher. I can not tell you who. I can not tell you what the project is. is, but I’m pretty sure when people realize we’re working on it, they’ll be very happy. “
A number of horror franchises over the years have turned to action in an attempt at wider acceptance, and even when sales have proven the task, they have often proved to be controversial against the fan base in general.
“We’ve had that conversation for three years,” Babieno said. “Because we realized we’re in a niche, and we want to make that niche wider. Our future projects will not necessarily be horror games. They can be called thrillers. We’re much wider with The Medium and the things we’re trying to do in the future.
“If you think about Resident Evil 8, Hellblade 2, even in some ways The Last of Us … This is the area we want to be in. And yet we want to keep our DNA and show fear and emotion, those things. which is hidden from our eyes. But again, we do not want to turn our environment into storytelling, but to have ‘real’ storytelling with characters, action and so on. “
Babieno knows that some fans will be willing to check out Bloober Team’s future efforts simply based on the studio’s track record at this point, but it will clearly not be enough to stand out in a horror genre that not only grows, but diversifies with innovative hits such as the four-player collaboration Phasmophobia.
“Of course we have some core fans who come back to our games because they are Bloober Team productions, but it’s about having a unique sales proposal,” says Babieno. “If you could offer something other than what’s on the market, people’s much more likely to watch it. Because players can choose more than just games. They can choose Netflix TV series, graphic novels or spending money time. on social networks with friends. So we do not compete with other horror game producers. I would say we compete for players’ time. ”
If Bloober Team is to come out on top in that competition, Babieno believes that it must reach as wide an audience as possible. That’s part of the reason the studio teamed up with Microsoft to put Blair Witch and now The Medium into Game Pass. There are 18 million Game Pass subscribers, Babieno says, and most would not know about The Medium if it were not for the service.
“I think if you create a brand new IP like with The Medium, systems like Game Pass are very useful because players will learn about your brand very quickly,” says Babieno.
While some industry watchdogs have expressed skepticism about the long-term effects of Game Pass and how the “Netflix-for-games” subscription model could hurt developers, Babieno says he sees no downside to it. It also did not hurt that when Blair Witch launched in Game Pass, Microsoft gave it a marketing push with a revealing trailer during the stage show E3 2019.
“It’s very important for a game developer to show his game to as wide an audience as possible,” says Babieno. “So I would say that Game Pass helps us, and in the future we might try to do some of that with Microsoft again.”
Regardless of the studio’s new love of action or how future projects are distributed, Babieno is confident that their inherent Bloober -ness will be evident to players.
“They will still be Bloober Team games,” he says, “and everyone who plays them will get that taste. But they will be much more mass market oriented.”