One of Microsoft's biggest missed opportunities can be found in the Alan Wake IP. The horror-thriller title with nods to the likes of Twin Peaks and Silent Hill wasn't a huge hit in its first outing but amassed a dedicated cult following when it launched back on the Xbox 360. Microsoft declined to fund a sequel, sadly, owing to the fact the original game sold only around 3 million copies.
Update July 1, 2019: I have amended some of the language in this article to emphasize the fact that it is the publishing rights that were acquired. Remedy always owned the IP.
GI.Biz is reporting that Remedy, known for Quantum Break, Max Payne, and the upcoming sci-fi action game Control, has acquired the publishing rights to the Alan Wake IP from Microsoft, meaning that they can now publish the game for themselves. Previously, despite Remedy owning the IP, all publishing rights to Alan Wake belonged to Microsoft, preventing a sequel from being made.
Alan Wake followed the tale of a writer, struggling to pen his next best-seller. In an attempt to gain some fresh perspective and inspiration, he travels to the sleepy town of Bright Falls for a relaxing vacation with his wife. Things quickly turn south, however, with supernatural phenomena, possessed crazed townfolk, and endless nightfall thrusting Alan Wake on a desperate search for his wife, who has gone missing. Disturbingly, it seems as though pages from a horror story he can't recall writing, are also becoming true.
Alan Wake had evocative visuals and polished combat for its time, but failed to meet Microsoft's expectations for returns, perhaps owing to lengthy development cycle and pretty high-profile marketing campaign. Alan Wake 2 had been in development, but Microsoft declined to fund it. Remedy instead built Quantum Break, which similarly failed to meet Microsoft's expectations.
It's my belief that with proper nurturing and sequels, both Quantum Break and Alan Wake could have grown into pillar IP for Microsoft, but Microsoft seems to find single-player narrative games to be too big of a risk in today's multiplayer-service-heavy times. Hopefully, with Remedy back in the driving seat, Alan Wake can find its true potential with another publisher in the future.
Remedy is currently working on Control set for debut on August 27, 2019, which is a supernatural action game with some awesome-looking superpowers and destructible environments.
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