Arkane Studios' work on immersive sims shouldn't be lost next generation
The studio celebrates its 20th anniversary as we look forward to its bright future.
Arkane Studios celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, but the path hasn't always been smooth sailing. Its tumultuous past is fraught with game cancellations and near-bankruptcy, documented by Noclip in " The Untold History of Arkane ," before the studio found success in 2012's Dishonored. This kicked off a sort of renaissance period for Arkane, which went on to make a sequel and a re-imagining of Prey. The studio has made a name for itself in the immersive sim space at a time when most publishers don't want to fund such titles, preferring safer routes to generate revenue like multiplayer and live-service games.
Fellow Android Central writer Samuel Tolbert and I both share a similar love of Arkane Studios, so we decided that for its 20th anniversary we'd talk a little bit about what makes the studio so special, and why we want to see it continue to focus on immersive sims next generation.
A modern day Looking Glass Studios
I admittedly didn't grow up on classics like System Shock, Ultima Underworld, or Thief, but the immersive sim genre became a favorite of mine when I discovered Dishonored. The way that my actions affected the world around me and how I was able to interact with the world in ways that I couldn't in any other game immediately had me hooked. Dishonored was my first taste of an immersive sim, and I couldn't get enough. There's something special about the amount of agency a player has.
Arkane has made some of my favorite games to come out in the last decade.
Looking Glass Studios paved the way for this type of emergent gameplay before being shut down in 2000. Arkane is one of the few studios that picked up the mantle, and continues to do commendable work in the genre with two separate studios in Lyon, France and Austin, Texas. I like to think of Arkane itself as a sort of spiritual successor to Looking Glass. Its influences and ideals clearly flow throughout the developer, but it maintains its own personality that is so distinctly Arkane .
Projects like this are unfortunately harder to fund because of their inherent risk. It's much easier for a multiplayer or live-service game to make back their money through microtransactions and paid DLC when they have constant support over the years, even if they're mediocre. The same can't be said for single-player games. Only the best, most-polished titles seem to survive in the AAA space. Investors and publishers just don't want to take that chance.
I'd never want to pigeon-hole Arkane into developing one type of game, so I'm hoping that the studio can find ways to innovate and continue its work with immersive sims. There is so much untapped potential there that I think the studio can try something new while keeping it familiar. Whatever Arkane decides to experiment with next, I'll happily be along for the...