The year 2023 undoubtedly marked a critical moment for Creative Assembly studio, potentially representing the most challenging chapter in its history. Once synonymous with easy profits for Sega, the studio behind Total War faced major challenges, including the abrupt cancellation of the cooperative shooter Hyenas, leading to layoffs and causing tensions within the Total War community.
The challenges faced by the studio are succinctly outlined by Roger Collum, the company’s vice-president, in a statement released last week. He states, “These past months have been tough, and we acknowledge that we made mistakes in our relationship with all of you. We have consistently discussed internally how we could return to a solid foundation. It is clear that it won’t be easy and will require time and effort […] We cannot resolve our issues overnight, but we will strive to establish more transparent and cohesive relationships with all of you.”
Total War: Warhammer III | A highly criticized DLC
The cause of this deterioration in relations concerns both Total War: Warhammer III and Total War: Pharaoh. Although praised by critics upon its release in early 2022, the former has significantly lost its reputation within the Steam community, especially since the launch of Shadows of Change, an additional content released on August 31st at a price of 25 euros. The cost, deemed excessive in relation to the limited content of the DLC, is one of the main reasons for the discontent of the community, with only 21% positive reviews. Acknowledging their failure to meet expectations, Creative Assembly is preparing a substantial and free update, expected to be available in two months for all DLC owners. This unforeseen initiative results in the postponement of the Thrones of Decay DLC until April 2024, emphasizing that Creative Assembly’s priority is now to avoid severe criticism with each new expansion.
Total War: Pharaoh | Already offered at a discounted rate
While Total War: Warhammer III must redouble its efforts to regain the public’s trust, this installment can at least boast of critical and commercial success. However, the situation is significantly less favorable for Total War: Pharaoh, launched on October 11th, marking an apparent halt in the strategy saga. To the extent that Sega has not only reduced the game’s selling price to 40 euros (from the initial 60 euros), but this price reduction will also apply retroactively to all game purchasers, who will thus receive 20 euros in their Steam wallet if not already done. Moreover, the initially planned first paid additional content will be available for free in early 2024.
“We have begun to reassess the future events for Pharaoh, and while we don’t have all the answers today, we want to make it clear that we are not closing the door to more ambitious updates for the game in the future. We still have significant plans, but we want to be honest with you in saying that we need more time with them before presenting them” we are told.
The challenges faced by Creative Assembly are compounded by those of Relic Entertainment, which had a difficult year in 2023 with the failure of Company of Heroes 3 and extensive layoffs. Formerly, in partnership with Sports Interactive, this trio constituted a solid pillar of major PC licenses on which Sega relied extensively to expand its audience. However, according to recent statements by Shuji Utsumi, CEO of Sega of America, the flagship licenses in recent years are Sonic, Persona, and Like a Dragon. It is thanks to this Japanese trio that Sega is now launching the Power Surge program, reintroducing classics such as Jet Set Radio, Crazy Taxi, Golden Axe, Shinobi, and Streets of Rage.