Microsoft has released the Xbox IP to 'Alan Wake' to Remedy Entertainment

Alan Wake
Alan Wake (Image credit: Microsoft)

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 (opens in new tab), 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.

Jez Corden
Managing Editor

Jez Corden is the Managing Editor for Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

  • I'll be forever mad at Microsoft if there's never a follow up to Quantum Break.
  • Probably never, Control looks very similar, I think we will see more games like that but in a new jacket.
  • I really liked Quantum Break. I even enjoyed the TV tie-in part of it that so many yahoos complained about even though they were completely optional. I'd like a sequel too. That said, I think that if any of knew just how much money Quantum Break lost, we'd understand why a sequel won't happen anytime soon, if ever. I bet the game lost tens of millions of dollars. It was high budget, with a long development cycle, featuring well known actors, and it didn't sell well.
  • It's actually surprising to see a big company release an IP to another company. I'm sure royalties are involved but it's still surprising.
  • Yeah, that's the part that makes little sense to me--although, to be fair, we're not privy to the details. Alan Wake may not have sold well, but it was fairly well received, has a small but passionate fan base, and was an IP associated with the Xbox brand. If Remedy now ports or remasters the game and releases it on PS4 or PS5, that will undoubtedly fuel the "Xbox has not exclusives" mindset from the online fanboy hivemind (including among gaming journalists), which, unfortunately, does have an influence on brand perception. Even more risky for Microsoft, if a sequel gets announced and it's a PS5 exclusive, that would undoubtedly wound their chances next-gen, even if only a little (and coming from what will surely be last place by then, as the Switch is quickly surpassing Xbox One in unit sales and developer interest), that will still be rough. There's also rumors Sony is trying to acquire them, which, if that happens, would mean Microsoft would've helped Sony get the rights to the franchise, which kind of reminds me of how Sony helped Double Fine obtain the rights to Grim Fandango, only to have Microsoft acquire Double Fine, and thus, Grim Fandango. Odd move by Microsoft--especially since Microsoft just went through the hassle of helping Remedy re-license the music in the game so they could re-sell it. IP is valuable, so is brand perception. Perhaps they are getting some payoff by Remedy, or some royalties from future sales of Alan Wake titles as remuneration, but I doubt any such remuneration will be as valuable in the long run as the alternative would've been.
  • Let's make a game that sold quack but it has a strong cult following. That'll be good for the next financial report
  • I actually don't want an Alan Wake sequel, personally. I didn't think the original was *that* good (Quantum Break was better), and obviously it wasn't profitable as a standalone entity. However, I do believe, in the bigger picture, from the Xbox branding perspective, it would've made sense to do it as a loss leader. Microsoft seems to underappreciate the benefits of fan satisfaction and brand perception. I'm skeptical that most of Sony's single-player, linear AAA games are profitable, but undoubtedly they help make the PlayStation platform profitable by keeping customers happy and fueling positive perceptions about the PlayStation brand among fans, gaming journalists, and third-party developers. Not funding an Alan Wake sequel is one thing, but releasing the IP so that Remedy can now port the game to PS4 and enable Sony to fund a sequel for PS5--that basically undoes everything Microsoft poured into the first game and will be damaging to the Xbox's chances next generation.
  • Help Xbox do what? Do better every year as brand (like it did almost every yeat for almost 2 decades).... Sure they might lose point in the console war race.. But as long as the market and revenue grows who cares... Xbox console is part of a bigger picture heck even the entire Xbox brand is part of a bigger picture that is rapidly growing for MS.... Not like Sony where PS is the only hardware brand almost that has been really viable for the past 2 decades... Pretty sure PS hasn't been bought by MS yet because it would never pass the anti trust law...
    MS is not really competing with Sony... They compete with Google Amazon Apple Facebook...
  • Sony buying remedy? With what money.... The only reason they are dismantled is because they've been liquidating assets left and right for more than a decade... It's been about 2 years they are keeping afloat... Not sure they can afford investment... Bit even then how can remedy be for sale and MS didn't get them since they have a closer recent relationship....
  • Control is their third game in this series, why can't we look at the fact that maybe we shouldn't try to shoehorn a sequel just to do the same things over again *cough*Bioshock 2*cough* (hell, even Matrix: Reloaded) and use Night Springs overall as a series thru line in this trilogy? Honestly it's smart there's no bogus number twos, because I really don't see it working... 👀
  • Already saw some hardcore PS fanboys hoping for Remedy to become an exclusive Playstation Studio 😂 like that will ever happen..
  • Onky thing I will say is "never say never".
  • About this... It's really never. Just doesn't make sense. And they are good friends with Microsoft.
  • Ironically they all sagged Remedy off when they were 2nd party to MS. Concerning going exclusive to Sony. I agree. Won't happen. Also it wouldn't surprise me if in selling the publishing rights to Remedy, they probably have a clause whereby they guarantee to put all future Alan Wake titles on Xbox Formats day of release. I don't know that. But it wouldn't surprise me.
  • Hopefully they make a game that is fun because I found the game play to be boring.
  • Now I see why control was announced at Sony's last year E3 presentation. Because bad relationships with Japanese game companies, who produce lots of single player games today, Xbox lose the player base of such type. If a player like both single and multiplayer games, he might choose PS4. I think Remedy would release both games on PS4, expect to be more successful than Xbox, then prepate sequals. I just hope meanwhile Xbox could be the best platform for all kinds of gamers, not just certain types of gamers.
  • Good news. Remedy pretty much refused to make Alan Wake 2 unless they could own the publishing rights for years. I commend MS for doing this. No point holding onto the rights. They didn't own the actual IP. At least now we can get a sequel to 1 of the best games last Gen. I been waiting for this game since I finished the first. They probably have a clause to say all future Alan Wake games appear on Xbox Formats day of release.
  • "Good news. Remedy pretty much refused to make Alan Wake 2 unless they could own the publishing rights for years."
    Do you actually have a link this time or is it more guess work made to sound like facts?
    Please don't tell me this is from your "reliable source" who provided bs before E3...
  • Tough one. Still icy as ever there Guest Alof. So here's the time line of events. After Alan Wake Remedy created a prototype for Alan Wake 2. It was presented to Don Matrick at the time. It wasn't something he was looking for at that moment. Talks progressed and Remedy and MS went in the direction of their new idea which became Quantum Break. In 2016 Phil Spencer said in an interview all that was now holding back Alan Wake 2 was Remedy themselves. They had seemed to have no intention of making the game. Instead they opted down the path of multi-player experience Control. Fast forward to 2019 and MS let the publishing rights go. Even now, reading some other reports on this. It would seem there is very little to suggest Remedy actually intend to make Alan Wake 2. It appears after Quantum Break MS have been trying to get an Alan Wake 2 to happen. With no avail. As pointed towards Phil Spencer confirming its totally been down to the developer. It makes sense that nearly 3 years on with MS getting nowhere in terms of an Alan Wake 2, to just let the rights go. After all they it's not like they could even get Ninja Theory to make it, as MS don't own the IP. So the common sense is let it go. There's no point forcing a developer to make a game, if they aren't particularly interested. Sure I elaborated on my own belief as to why Remedy refuse to make Alan Wake 2. Even with all the support Phil Spencer gave a sequel. I do feel like Remedy want to own the publishing rights themselves. I can't think why else they would not be wanting to make the game since 2015 where even Sam Lake says Phil Spencer has been a huge advocate and support for an Alan Wake 2 sequel. Something there has changed. Remedy have clearly changed over the last 4 years.
  • Ok so all you're doing is speculating.
    I'm not sure of Remedy not wanting to make a Alan Wake 2. They said it many times that they would love to make one.
    “We all love Alan Wake at Remedy and I think all of us want to see a new Alan Wake game.”
    “we all want to see it happen, absolutely.” But look at this article.
    Read these two paragraph and you could see that it was more MS that was blocking:
    “Due to certain reasons, it never got a sequel. Quantum Break, also, we put a lot of effort into creating the world, the characters, the stories, but still it was Microsoft IP. They decided not to take it further.” Remedy’s always built story-driven games, and as Virtala notes memorable characters and settings “are typically building blocks in any entertainment business for franchises that could live for a long time. Now for the second time being in a position where we had done all that groundwork and then there was not a possibility to continue those stories… we didn’t want to face that again.” And that's why they went on to make control because they wanted to have control of the games they were making. Now Remedy has acquired the publishing rights of the game and that's the good news because clearly they want to make the game.
    Whether it was MS who were just not interested or they were asking too much or it was Remedy who refused to do it because of various reasons remains speculation. Neither of us know what really happened so I think it would be better to make statements as if they are just speculations and not facts. Saying something like "for me", according to me" or "imo" is very useful.
  • Microsoft blocked it straight after Alan Wake 1. The prototype was presented to Don Matrick in 2009. Your talking 10 years ago. Parts of that prototype was used in Alan Wake Nightmare. Phil Spencer was not involved when the prototype was shown. Phil Spencer since 2015 though has green lit Alan Wake 2 for Remedy. But in 2016 he clearly says it's down to Remedy. Physically saying " we can't force them to make it. If they don't want to make it, then they won't" Yes straight after Alan Wake released, MS didn't immediately green Light a sequel. And those talks with Remedy actually turned into Quantum Break. But over the last 4 years Remedy have shown 0 interest in making the game. And Sam Lake confirmed they have gone in a more multi-player focused avenue with their games.
  • Did you even read my reply and the links I posted?
    You just keep presenting your speculations as if they were facts?
    Why can't you use "for me", according to me" or "imo" when you really have no idea or proof about what you're saying?
    I mean:
    "over the last 4 years Remedy have shown 0 interest in making the game"
    Do you have proof of that? Did you read the article I posted?
    Do you have proof that Spencer green lit Alan Wake 2? Or is it more speculations?
  • It's called using your head. Directly after Alan Wake released. Less than 6 months after that Remedy showed a prototype for Alan Wake 2. Don Matrick didn't want it straight away. Those same talks morphed into Quantum Break. You have to ask yourself. If Sam Lake is saying in 2015 that he is moving to Multi-player games due to uncertainty over single player games getting funding. There is something not right with what he says. It's called 'it doesn't add up'. Yourself and many other Sony fans critise (and still do in your case) that MS doesn't want single player games. And wants micro transaction multi-player titles. Now I'll show you why what Sam Lake said makes 0 common sense. MS fully funded Alan Wake. Then after Alan Wake they spent an even higher budget on Quantum Break. Another single player story driven game. Then Phil Spencer right as that game finished and released, wants to make Alan Wake 2. Another single player story driven title. Instead Sam Lake refuses and makes Control. A multilayer game. At no time since the release of Alan Wake 1 has either Don Matrick or Phil Spencer forced Remedy to make a multi-player experience. MS gave them the full freedom to bring to the world not 1 but 2 huge budget single player story driven brand new IPs. In Alan Wake and Quantum Break. Developers today would bite MS hand off for that level of freedom. Even allowing Sam Lake to make a TV show to go along with his new IP QB. Then in 2016 Phil Spencer very Cleary says Remedy aren't interested in making Alan Wake 2. Even though both MS and fans want it. Sam Lake can skirt around it all he likes. But what he says doesn't add up. MS funded and gave full creative freedom to Remedy for both new IP. And wanted a sequel to Alan Wake. All of this makes me 99% sure Remedy have pulled a fast one in wanting the publishing rights back. MS did so much for Remedy, and allowed them full creative freedom on both IP. Not once making them add multi-player. Or stopping them making an entire TV show either. If you ask me, Sam Lake is out of order for alot of things over the last 7 or so years.
  • "All of this makes me 99% sure Remedy have pulled a fast one in wanting the publishing rights back."
    Right so it's just you speculating not a fact.
    Next time don't try to make your speculation sound like facts.
    End of the story.
  • So your not going to acknowledge anything Sam Lake is saying makes no sense whatsoever? It goes against ALL the evidence of facts we do have ( the freedom and money given to develop exactly the type of gane they wanted) and the official statement from MS in 2016 that Remedy chose not to make Alan Wake 2 after Quantum Break. I can tell you green is red. But the evidence tells you otherwise. Sometimes Guest Alof. You don't need what a company says to know it doesn't make any logical sense.
  • I don't care about your speculation. I care about facts.
    Like I said. Next time don't try to make your speculation sound like facts.
    End of the story.
  • It's not speculation. It's called using evidence you have to show someone isn't telling the truth. But because it doesn't fit your agenda of MS controlling studios and their output, you choose to ignore the facts that are right in front of you. It is a fact that MS funded Alan Wake. And it's a fact that game is a single player story driven experience. It's a fact that MS funded Quantum Break. A single player story driven experience. It's a fact MS publicly wanted another story driven experience in Alan Wake 2 in 2016. There is 0 evidence to support the claim that MS wouldn't fund a story driven single player experience as Sam Lake is suggesting. In fact Quantum Break cost so much money for MS to make, it's remarkable MS wanted to find and make Alan Wake 2 straight after Quantum Break. Here's a fantastic article, which actually shows Sam Lake during the development of Quantum Break was already questioning the validity of Single Player Experiences himself. Nothing to do with MS at all. Interesting that Lake at this time while spending all MS money says nothing about worrying about MS funding single player games. But then why would he when he spent millions of MS money making what the hell he wanted to. Remedy (in particular Sam Lake) have been down right out of order to MS. Some snippets of what Lake said in that Article for those who can't be bothered to read it. "There are problems with that model that we are seeing in the industry, but at the same time, I think you can do beautiful things with that," Lake said. "The very basic problem is rental and resale. If you can play through it in a weekend, that is a problem. We are looking at this critically and thinking about what we should we keep, because we are good at making certain kinds of experiences and we don't want to lose that." Next time Remedy sets out on a project like this, Lake said, it will consider all of the solutions that other games use these days. He doesn't want Remedy to ever give up on the types of games that came to define it, but he's realistic about the current state of the market. "In some ways it's a shame," he said. "I myself enjoy these kinds of experiences, but then again, you need to have this make business sense as well." Explain to me why on earth he would refuse more of MS money to make Alan Wake 2. When clearly even in his own head he had all the backing of MS to make these elaborate Single player experiences. He himself is questioning the industry. Not MS backing.
  • ofc it's speculation LOL
    You said it yourself "All of this makes me 99% sure Remedy have pulled a fast one in wanting the publishing rights back."
    You have ZERO real evidence showing that Remedy pretty much refused to make Alan Wake 2 unless they could own the publishing rights for years. Now move along...
  • I'm glad you bias has shown the last few days. Over this thread and the Bleeding one. You have proved my point of the last 3 years. Tha k you. I appreciate your honesty.
  • You don't have a point. You just make up stuff.
    Try to make your speculation sounds as facts.
    You have made that statement few days back now, but still no real evidence showing that Remedy pretty much refused to make Alan Wake 2 unless they could own the publishing rights for years. You prove my point about you being a liar and making up stuff so often it's crazy.... :)
    Now move along, no need to reply.
  • Between all the fanboy bs talk. I'm just glad that there is a possibility to an Alan Wake sequel.
    I liked the first one. I hope Remedy gets a lot more money thanks to sales by Control which will encourage them to make this sequel. Also I would love a QB sequel. I did like that game too. I'm guessing MS doesn't want to make another game like this because QB cost them too much to make and they couldn't turn it into a service and multiply profits with paid microtransactions and boost packs...
  • Awesome news, can't wait to see what Remedy do with the game, with the improved power of the current gen they could do some pretty amazing things with the light mechanic.