Hearts of Iron 4 playerbase soars as Paradox reports poor performance

It's not been a great quarter for grand strategy publisher Paradox Interactive, but there are some silver linings

Paradox Interactive, the publisher behind strategy games Crusader Kings III and the upcoming Victoria 3, as well as city builder sensation Cities: Skylines, has today published its report for the third quarter of 2021. Spoiler alert: it could have been better.

Buried among the business stats and numbers were some neat game-specific facts, such as Hearts of Iron IV receiving more than twice the number of players now compared to what it did during the height of its launch period in mid-2016. It’s one of Paradox’s most popular grand strategy games, and contributes to the five million active users the publisher also reports for October 2021 across all its titles.

The report was mainly mired by disappointment, however. This quarter has proven to be one of the worst in company history – revenues are at a two-year low, with profits for the quarter the worst on record, the company reports. One of the big driving forces behind this quarter’s slump involves the writing off of several projects that Fredrick Wester – newley re-appointed CEO – states the company felt had been in development for too long, and weren’t of the desired quality.

The cancellation of unannounced projects has been a feature of past quarterly reports, but so far the publisher has declined to give details on what these projects were.

When asked by us directly during this quarter’s livestream, Wester again declined to comment. “Some of the games might have shown promise, but we weren’t able to handle them,” he said. “Others didn’t meet the standards we expect at Paradox, so we had to close them.”

“The most important thing in this process is to not be scared about making new things,” he added.

The report generally suggests that the publisher will be spending less time and money on projects developed by external partners, with a new focus on internal projects. The report also reiterates that Paradox has 15 titles currently in the works, four of which are known, such as Victoria 3 and Crusader Kings III’s console port.

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Of these 15, it was stated that “some” are sequels, and others are new IPs, and that this number includes console ports but doesn’t include DLC projects for existing games, such as Hearts of Iron IV’s upcoming No Step Back expansion.

This isn’t the first time Paradox has reported issues in relation to developing projects. At a press event in 2011, Paradox Interactive announced, or otherwise showcased, around 11 new projects, some of which never saw release or otherwise didn’t sell well at launch.

Elsewhere, a past initiative to uplift popular mods and turn them into full games around five years ago didn’t end up going ahead, with projects such as Magna Mundi and East vs. West cancelled in 2012 amd 2014 respectively.

Despite only two releases this past quarter, though, it looks like we can expect things to pick up going forward. Europa Universalis IV recently received a new expansion, while Empire of Sin and Hearts of Iron IV are also getting new releases before the month is out. Survival city-building game Surviving the Aftermath also releases into 1.0 later today.