April 16, 2024

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Hellblade 2 developer Ninja Theory says its fans enjoy shorter games

Hellblade 2 developer Ninja Theory says its fans enjoy shorter games

The Hellblade 2 developer has explained why he prefers making shorter games, insisting that digital distribution has opened the door to “games of all shapes and sizes”.

Microsoft-owned Ninja Theory will soon release Hellblade 2, which costs $50, is digital-only, and is about eight hours long. It follows 2020's online multiplayer Bleeding Edge, and 2017's Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, itself a cheaper and shorter game that was released without a physical release.

In a recent interview with IGN (see IGN's Hellblade 2 preview for more), Ninja Theory studio head Dom Matthews said Hellblade 2 is “the right shape and size of experience” to tell the story the developers intend to create.

“I think what we always set out to do is tell a story and have the length of the game fit the story we want to tell,” Matthews said. “So it's not really about starting to do shorter experiences. I think it's… there's a story we want to tell here with a beginning, a middle and an end and what's the right shape and size of experience to tell that story? So that's where we start.”

Ninja Theory has found an audience for shorter games where “every step of that journey makes sense,” Matthews said.

“What I would also say is that I think that since digital distribution has become a reality, it has opened up the industry to games of all shapes and sizes, which I think is really cool,” Matthews commented. “So I'm really happy to see that there are a lot of people actually enjoying a shorter experience, something that they can sit down on any Friday night, put their headphones on, turn off the lights, and immerse themselves in an experience. And gamers who don't necessarily want something that's 50 hours long, or 100 An hour, so that's how long it should be. I'm one of those people, I like short games.

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“I think there's a lot of pressure on people's time these days and I think our fans, from what we're hearing from them, enjoy a shorter game where our goal is for every step of that journey to be meaningful… There's an audience of people who we want focused matches.”

Nowadays, with more video games being released directly to subscription services and without physical releases, it's becoming increasingly difficult to measure success, at least from the outside. As a first-party Xbox game, Hellblade 2 launches day one on Game Pass on May 21, 2024. While it will also be available to purchase standalone on PC via Steam and Xbox, Hellblade 2 seems unlikely to prove its value through sales alone .

For Ninja Theory, there are several metrics for the success of Hellblade 2. “I think for us as a studio, my focus as well as the head of the studio is how do we empower the team here, the artists here to go and create an experience, and how do we get it to the widest possible audience?” Matthews explained.

“I think the success for us is that we like to have as many players as possible playing our games, but I think especially we love Hellblade and I love that magic that you can achieve by creating something that makes people think and feel. So, if I think about the things that I want to achieve in… Hellblade 2, once it's released, the thing that will put the biggest smile on my face is seeing fans of Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice and people who love this type of game say, 'We've continued Senua's journey in a way that befits this character.'

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Wesley is IGN's UK news editor. You can find him on Twitter at @wyp100. You can contact Wesley at [email protected] or confidentially at [email protected].