Compared to other Swedish game development powerhouses – DICE, Avalanche, Massive – Syndicate
developer Starbreeze keeps a lower profile. Having only released two projects in the last five years, Starbreeze isn't offering many consistent reminders that it still exists. Company president and CEO Mikael Nermark is aiming to change that, and his first two major projects are two games you probably haven't heard of: P13
and Cold Mercury
"We're trying to build four independent core teams," Nermark told me in a phone interview earlier today. Beyond the existing teams at Starbreeze, the newly acquired Overkill Software wil serve as one of those four teams. So, four "core teams," four projects. We know Overkill is working on a sequel to last year's Payday: The Heist
, and we know that two other teams are working on P13
and Cold Mercury
(respectively), but that fourth team is a mystery.
Nermark wouldn't budge on new details about Cold Mercury
, but he told me that P13
is currently "in the middle of production" and "it's going really well." The game is heading to Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, and PC. Starbreeze brought in an outside force
to take creative lead on the project: Swedish director Josef Fares.
"He's one of the most or maybe the most famous movie directors in Sweden of all time. He's never done a game before, but he's an avid gamer and he loves games. So he actually left the movie industry and this guy is like having one of the top guys – this is the top guy in Sweden making movies. So he's actually working for us full-time," Nermark said. "To Swedes, this is like having a guy like Christopher Nolan working on the game on a daily basis."
All of this – the four distinct teams, the diversification of projects, and the acquisition of Overkill – is part of an ongoing plan started by Nermark not long after he joined the company, just over two and a half years ago.
"It's no secret that Starbreeze has been going through some turmoil the last one and a half to two years, and a lot of good people left. We finished up Syndicate
as you know. As much as we love working on triple-A, four years of production can drain your creativity. We want to do something which we can call our own, which we can say, 'We made this, all this from, scratch.' And that's what we're doing with our two new projects," Nermark said.
The first fruit of Nermark's efforts seems to be P13
– a game that isn't far from finding a publisher, apparently. "We own the IP, we fund the whole development, and we're about to close a deal with a partner to publish it." Sounds like we'll be hearing more from Starbreeze in the not-so-distant future.