Paradox Software is one of the PC’s bright success stories. Once upon a time they were famous for courting hardcore strategy gamers. But recently they’ve seen success by pushing action games like Mount and Blade and Magicka. We talked to their CEO Fredrik Wester about the shift, and what it means to be an indie publisher.
Paradox first found success publishing grand strategy games, but deliberately diversified over recent years. “We cornered the market in grand strategy games and have dominated that niche, explains Fred. “There are just a few players that are bigger than us, like Civilization for example. Apart from them, I would say that we are almost alone in the niche nowadays.”
When it came time to grow the company, “to spread their risks,” says Fred, “we wanted to broaden our portfolio.”
Hence publishing titles like Magicka, War of the Roses, and Dungeonland; all action games, all with quirky settings. Many of them would fit into what we think of indie games, but don’t because they have the financial backing of Paradox.
I asked Fred whether a publisher like Paradox could ever be indie. His reponse: “we discuss that almost every day in the office. Indie is a very vague term in the office. In the dev forums you see people bragging over who is the most indie. If you’re extremely indie, you make the quirkiest games ever that no-one wants to play or pay for.”
He continues: “I don’t think that’s true. You’re indie if you go to your work every day and do exactly what you want to do in terms of artistic freedom. In that aspect, Paradox is an indie company. No-one except the people here tell us what to do. We operate under total artistic freedom.”
Fred is proud of the games his company publishes. “They’re a bit more crazy, a bit more over the top, a bit more, like hardcore than you would expect. I think that’s a great role to have in this market. Indie definitely. But not the traditional indie label that put on the genre.”