League of Legends' Gnar revealed: What if The Hulk was a Gremlin?

Prepare for Dragon Age: Inquisition with this combat primer

Full steam ahead: World of Warcraft's Grimrail Depot dungeon is sure to become a favourite

Europa Universalis IV

Not here to make friends - A day in Stockholm with Paradox Interactive

Johan Andersson is showing me around Stockholm’s Old Town on a beautiful spring afternoon, pushing his one year-old daughter, Adela, around in her stroller while we talk about games and the business of making them. From time to time, Adela shoots a suspicious glance my way, eyes narrowed. Perhaps she senses her father and I are bound to be mortal enemies, or maybe she’s looked up my reviews of previous Paradox games.

By either standard I’m a bit of a frenemy. I tend to like Paradox games, but with significant reservations. I’m also here in Stockholm to place Europe under my iron-shod heel in a massive multiplayer game of Europa Universalis IV. By geography and by the cutthroat nature of a twenty-person multiplayer session, we are bound to find ourselves at war.

But today is for preliminaries. Johan tells me how good it’s been to step back from designing EU and work in a more supervisory capacity. Traditionally, he’s the one leading development and making the major design decisions, but with a baby and a growing studio, he’s been happy to lead QA and playtesting while project lead Thomas Johansson has set about reinventing the wheel.

“It also means I get to arrange things like this,” he says with a grin and an elfin raise of his eyebrows. “I mean, it’s marketing and I was able to say we’ll get great coverage out of it but, really... this is just fucking fun. It’s going to be awesome.”

I laugh, then admit, “The session we had in Iceland probably changed how I’ll review your games going forward. I don’t think I’d have liked March of the Eagles all that much as a single-player game, but I’ve been playing the hell out multiplayer since we got back.”

“March of the Eagles...” Johan shakes his head, then retrieves Adela’s stuffed Piglet. “I’m just glad it turned out okay. ...We really had to work hard to get that released this winter.”

March of the Eagles began life with AGEOD / Paradox France, a wargaming studio that joined the Paradox fold a few years ago. Earlier this year they left Paradox to join Matrix Games, a major wargaming publisher, and March of the Eagles had to be completed by Paradox Development Studio.

Johan admits that the partnership was an awkward one, in large part because AGEOD and Paradox employ very different business models despite superficial similarities in subject matter. Paradox have a reputation for being a niche publisher, but they still count their audience in the hundreds of thousand. Paradox deal in big topics and modular expansions. Medieval politics, now with Celtic and Nordic tribes! World War II! The Renaissance and age of colonization - now with more Asian factions! 

By contrast, AGEOD (and many other developers in this market) make intricate one-off wargames about specialty topics: The Seven Years’ War in Germany, theater operations and command and control during the American Civil War. Both companies could be described as niche from the point of view of a major publisher, but they’re actually in very different businesses. Paradox are charming history nerds, but there’s a calculating streak to the company. 

Here’s a story I heard from Boel Bermann, Paradox Development Studio’s PR manager: a couple years ago a bunch of Paradoxers were at a trade show in North America. Everyone had just started playing Kairosoft’s Game Dev Story, a simple smartphone game about resource management. You hire a dev team, you make games, you release them, you see how you did, you maybe hire more team members or maybe you hire better team members and then set the overall direction for your company.

Everyone at Paradox started agonizing over this game. Other developers at Paradox were risking everything on hiring the best staff, working to make the absolute best games they could. Time and again they end up underselling, despite strong reviews. They were running low on funds, cutting staff, and looking to abandon major game releases. Someone finally asked Johan how he was doing at Game Dev Story.

He looked up from his phone. “Oh, I just sold my tenth game, I’ve got a decent sized staff, and a few million in the bank. They’re all 70 Metacritic, but they always sell like crazy.”

Login or Register
Alienware - Game VictoriousNvidia Shield - Titanfall
Topic of the Week: What do you want from the new Mass Effect? thumbmail

Mass Effect 4

Topic of the Week: What do you want from the new Mass Effect?

League of Legends' Gnar revealed: What if The Hulk was a Gremlin?  thumnnail

League of Legends' Gnar revealed: What if The Hulk was a Gremlin?

Prepare for Dragon Age: Inquisition with this combat primer thumnnail

Prepare for Dragon Age: Inquisition with this combat primer

Full steam ahead: World of Warcraft's Grimrail Depot dungeon is sure to become a favourite  thumnnail

Full steam ahead: World of Warcraft's Grimrail Depot dungeon is sure to become a favourite

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare's new trailer pits Frank Underwood against terrorists  thumnnail

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare's new trailer pits Frank Underwood against terrorists

Arno races the guillotine in a new Assassin's Creed Unity CG trailer thumnnail

Arno races the guillotine in a new Assassin's Creed Unity CG trailer

We’ve 1,000 keys for a Wildstar trial account. Want one? thumbmail

Wildstar

We’ve 1,000 keys for a Wildstar trial account. Want one?

A brief glimpse at Unreal Tournament's deathmatch:

A brief glimpse at Unreal Tournament's deathmatch: "We' have a game now"

Creative reassembly: Total War: Shogun II is coming to Mac thumnnail

Creative reassembly: Total War: Shogun II is coming to Mac

Why Rust devs Facepunch decided not to announce another new game this week thumnnail

Why Rust devs Facepunch decided not to announce another new game this week

John Romero says

John Romero says "PC is decimating console" through free-to-play

Watch Rob Zombie and Tony Moore’s gory short

Watch Rob Zombie and Tony Moore’s gory short "inspired by" Assassin's Creed Unity

The Air-Raid Siren Song of War Thunder thumbmail

War Thunder

The Air-Raid Siren Song of War Thunder

Gearbox strip Borderlands of its DRM, promise working Steamworks multiplayer for all thumnnail

Gearbox strip Borderlands of its DRM, promise working Steamworks multiplayer for all

Yordle-ay-ee-oooo: meet League of Legends' pointy-eared new arrival, Gnar thumnnail

Yordle-ay-ee-oooo: meet League of Legends' pointy-eared new arrival, Gnar

Riot address LMQ ownership confusion, pledge to

Riot address LMQ ownership confusion, pledge to "represent the best interests of the players"

The Elder Scrolls Online begins its European megaserver migration today thumnnail

The Elder Scrolls Online begins its European megaserver migration today

Watch 20 minutes of Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments, dear Watson thumnnail

Watch 20 minutes of Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments, dear Watson

All Keys Gone: We’ve 6,666 ArcheAge beta codes burning a hole in our hull thumbmail

ArcheAge

All Keys Gone: We’ve 6,666 ArcheAge beta codes burning a hole in our hull

Pacific Rim: Jaeger Pilot let Comic-Con attendees battle kaiju with the Oculus Rift thumnnail

Pacific Rim: Jaeger Pilot let Comic-Con attendees battle kaiju with the Oculus Rift

Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham's Comic-Con trailer is so good that you can forgive the duck murder thumnnail

Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham's Comic-Con trailer is so good that you can forgive the duck murder

ESPN

ESPN "delighted" by Dota 2 viewing figures; expect more eSports coverage in the future

Start building early: Landmark is on sale for the next day thumnnail

Start building early: Landmark is on sale for the next day

AMD Gaming Evolved Client grows, adding Twitch broadcasting and other treats thumnnail

AMD Gaming Evolved Client grows, adding Twitch broadcasting and other treats