Paradox Interactive has announced it will part ways with Harebrained Schemes, the developer behind recent sales disappointment, The Lamplighters League. According to a press release, the move was made due to a misalignment between Paradox’s future plans to focus on strategy and management games, and the internal plans of Harebrained.
“Paradox has refocused its strategy towards its core niches within strategy and management games with endless qualities,” Charlotta Nilsson, COO of Paradox said. “We and HBS’ leadership have been discussing what would happen after the release of The Lamplighters League, but a new project or sequel in the same genre was not in line with our portfolio plans. Hence, we believe that a separation would be the best way forward.”
“We’re very happy that this talented, gifted studio has the chance to continue and can’t wait to see what they will make next.”
Notably, Paradox Interactive will retain ownership of The Lamplighters League and other games developed by the studio. This is despite Paradox labelling The Lamplighters League a “big disappointment”, and writing it off just a week after launch, in a rare move from a publisher.
“Even though we see cautiously positive player numbers in subscription services, the commercial reception has been too weak, which is frankly a big disappointment,” Fredrik Wester, CEO of Paradox Interactive said at the time. “Game projects are by their nature always risky, but at the end of the day we haven’t performed at the level we should. It is painful but makes us more eager to roll up our sleeves and do better.”
Given the strong wording here, it’s unlikely Paradox Interactive will pursue further chapters in the Lamplighters League story – yet with the retention of franchise ownership, Harebrained Schemes will also not be able to revisit the IP. While the sales of the game were disappointing on launch, critical reviews praised its gameplay and theming, which takes inspiration from pulp horror and action-adventures. There’s certainly merit in expanding its ideas, but it appears this won’t eventuate.
Harebrained Schemes has plans to continue supporting the game, with “no changes” announced for its post-launch DLC, despite Paradox’s write down. According to the press release announcing the studio’s split, Paradox will continue to support the release of this content until the end of the year.
“Harebrained Schemes will support The Lamplighters League through the end of the year while we seek funding and partnerships for an independent future in 2024,” Brian Poel, Studio Operations Manager of HBS said. “Our studio mission remains the same: to make games that challenge your mind and touch your heart.”
In the coming months, Harebrained Schemes will begin canvassing for new publishing support and partnerships to keep the studio afloat. While it’s good news that it won’t be facing redundancy or closure for now, as has been common with recent studio splits, there is likely an uphill battle ahead for those at Harebrained Schemes. We wish them luck in their next chapter.