Syndicate Developers Knew They Wouldn't Please Everyone, Or Possibly Anyone

Early this year, Starbreeze Studios and EA launched Syndicate, an FPS reboot of a 1990s tactical classic. The game met with decidedly mixed reviews, and although some players enjoyed it, in terms of sales it's mostly gone down as a flop.

Speaking with Edge, Starbreeze CEO Mikael Nermark said he and his studio were proud of the work they had done, even though sales lagged. But he also outlined a dilemma that nearly every game developer encounters at some point or another, with any sequel, remake, or reboot:

We knew from the get-go that there was going to be a small but very vocal [group] of gamers and journalists that was going to hate us whatever route we took.

If we didn't do an exact copy of the game, they'd hate us. If we did do an exact copy, they'd say we didn't innovate. They were never ours to win; it was a lost battle from the get-go.

Nermark neatly captures the peril of popularity, and the thin line between fan favour and fan rage. Every game will be too "samey" and not innovative enough for some percentage of players, while at the same time, every game will be too different and not similar enough to previous games for some percentage of players. In some ways, we gamers are a constant no-win situation.

That said, Syndicate evidently also managed to miss out on pleasing that large percentage of gamers in the middle. And those are the players you just can't live without.

Starbreeze "proud" of Syndicate despite poor sales [Edge]


    Hey come on dude, not everyone would hate it. Why not ask the Australia gamer if they enjoyed playing the gam-OH WAIT.

      Ahahahah yes. See I was interested in checking it out and still am a bit, but having it actually released over here would've helped that. R18+ can't come soon enough.

      Haha! I was just gonna say - why not try rebooting a franchise and having it available to EVERYONE?!?!?! Don't give me this artistic integrity bullshit - I brought Syndicate on multiple systems back in the day - there's no reason save shock value that you couldn't update Syndicate for modern gamers and have it within reach of every man and his child. Syndicate was never exactly known for pushing the 'corpse mutilation' envelope...

    I have a pretty good idea why it didn't sell so great in Australia...
    It was banned.

    But as someone who never played the original, I imported it and enjoyed the relatively mindless (even if generic) campaign, didn't try the co op though.

      The coop was by far the best part about it, was very awesome, interesting way of level up weapons and tech also. was a blast with 3 mates.

    There is a really snazzy setting in there. Some strong moments, interesting visuals and intriguing ideas.

    Its just that its a very 'meh' FPS and the story is fairly weak.

      Agreed, it's not stellar and I feel the Syndicate was tacked on by EA to continue the licence somehow. I don't mind it, but it's not going to be finished any time soon.

    they seem to face the same problems bands do. change too much with a new album and people arent happy. dont change enough and its too samey.

    i havent played syndicate yet but id like too

      This wasn't really an issue of getting the amount of change right. They changed the game from the original interesting concept to something incredibly generic. It would be more like Muse going dubstep...

      I made myself sad.

    I thought it was great, even if the multiplayer could be a bit laggy. Loved the original too many years ago. Enjoyed the FPS conversion too, but Deus Ex: HR was a better single player campaign.

    'If we did do an exact copy, they’d say we didn’t innovate. They were never ours to win; it was a lost battle from the get-go.'

    So why the fuck did you choose to do it in the first place........Idiot.

    I don't blame Starbreeze since I doubt they had much say in the matter and technically speaking they did a good job, but to say it was either this or a clone is a pretty big cop out and sort of ignores the whole 'why use Syndicate if you know you can't make a Syndicate game' question.
    There are plenty of ways to modernise Syndicate while staying true to the spirit of the original games. Unlike the safe bet FPS route they're all a little risky but ultimately there's no point in rebooting a franchise if you're just going to abandon the unique elements.

      The thing is, they could have easily done it as a FPS/TPS but kept the elements that actually made it syndicate. Something more along the lines of DX:HR could have been amazing. The problem was they didn't even try, just made it a generic mediocre corridor shooter. Such a waste.

        Exactly. Metroid Prime turned Metroid into a FPS game. It's just that instead of trying to make an FPS spiritual reboot of Syndicate they decided to make an FPS and throw Syndicate stickers on it.

    I played through it and while it wasn't exactly a landmark shooter but it was good enough. Considering all the other dull dime a dozen modern military shooters out there it was nice to play something in a different setting with some new mechanics.

    It could have easily gotten away with not being called Syndicate though,.

    I enjoyed the game. Still a bit confused to what exactly cause the R18 on it considering stuff like Dead island was a lot more brutal at times can not wait until R18 actual rolls out

    "If we didn’t do an exact copy of the game, they’d hate us. If we did do an exact copy, they’d say we didn’t innovate". He says that as if the only 2 options were to remake the exact same game or make an FPS.

    Look at the example of XCOM. Most people who are fans of the old XCOM games seem pretty enthusiastic about the new XCOM: Enemy Unknown game because that's basically taking the old school turn-based gameplay that is synonymous with that series and bringing it into the modern era. XCOM fans generally seem to be looking forward to that, while they regard the other XCOM game (the FPS) with a fair amount of scorn because they're creating something which doesn't appear to have any of the spirit of the original in it and is instead just grafting the IP onto a FPS of which there are already plenty on the market already.

    If they'd actually made a modern update of Syndicate then they would have appealed to fans of the original and also possibly appealed to new fans looking for something different. Instead they built an FPS which appealed to nobody - it bore no resemblance to the original, so had no appeal to fans of the original, and as a shooter it's nowhere in the same league as the heavy hitters of the FPS genre. So in the end it wound up appealing to almost nobody, and that's exactly who bought it.

      Yup, exactly. They should have worked out what people enjoyed about the original and updated that core nugget of goodness with modern tech. Instead he thought "hmm... I can either copy my design from an old game or copy it from new, unrelated games..."

      It's amazing how many possibilities are available for the game designer who actually does their job.

    Did anyone else play it on PC? It used origin and was a REALLY shit port.

    I played it for 10 minutes and thought what the hell is this garbage and turned it off.

      This is surprising?

    I'll admit it. I pirated it. Oh well.

    Biggest issue I have? Its SYNDICATE OF DUTY. It's a really, really bad game. And the DUBSTEP.. oh god the DUBSTEP... seriously, the developer didn't even try with this game, it was lazy game creation 101. There was zero innovation, zero interesting level design and zero interesting weaponry, to quote the bare naked ladies, its all been done before. (And in much better ways).

    That is BS. They avoided the "making it the same thus it lacks innovation" dilemma by making an FPS?
    Surely they could replicate and update the look and feel of the game and cram it full of new and innovative features. Plus who is really interested in buying a new Syndicate game if not the old school fans? Kids that grew up in the console age have likely not played the original, leaving them with the choice of COD or new future shooter game

    It wasn't a really bad game. Just being a shooter isn't enough to qualify something as a bad game. Everyone may hate cod because they've molested their favourite old school titles or something but not every shooter is the same just like not every RPG is the same. I refuse to hate on something because of a name. It's classless and childish. We can scream all we want about "lack of innovation" (as we all seem to know for a fact exactly what that means) or we can just enjoy the things we like.

    Fix the FOV! Fix the FOV! Fix the FOV! Fix the FOV! Fix the FOV! Fix the FOV! Fix the FOV! Fix the FOV! Fix the FOV! Fix the FOV! Fix the FOV! Fix the FOV! Fix the FOV! Fix the FOV! Fix the FOV! Fix the FOV! Fix the FOV! Fix the FOV! Fix the FOV! Fix the FOV! Fix the FOV! Fix the FOV! Fix the FOV! Fix the FOV! Fix the FOV! Fix the FOV! Fix the FOV! Fix the FOV! Fix the FOV! Fix the FOV! Fix the FOV! Fix the FOV! Fix the FOV! Fix the FOV! Fix the FOV! Fix the FOV! Fix the FOV! Fix the FOV! Fix the FOV! Fix the FOV! Fix the FOV! Fix the FOV! Fix the FOV! Fix the FOV! Fix the FOV! Fix the FOV! Fix the FOV! Fix the FOV!
    Seriously they need to FIX THE FOV it's unplayable on pc.

    They didn't please anyone because the game was a generic FPS crapfest.

    I'm no market analyst, but apparently they think their prime target audience are a "small but very vocal group". There was a fantastic opportunity for them to pull a Nintendo and capitalise on the nostalgia factor, but instead they ignored them and put out something that really didn't succeed with both newcomers and the old crowd.

    XCOM and X-COM: Enemy Unknown are a fantastic opportunity to study whether going down the route of "FPS manshoot with throwbacks to the original" or "Updating the core game with modern techniques" nets the bigger success. From what I read in responses to articles, it's turning out to (rightfully) be the latter and I can only hope that Syndicate is revisited from the angle of doing to the original what Firaxis is doing with Enemy Unknown.

    This is a dumb arguement from EA, it is a good game my friends and I still play it, yes it's not perfect but what game is.

    I have to point the finger directly at EA for a stupid release date and pitting their own two games against each other, obviously more people know about Mass Effect 3 and look how EA is supporting Mass Effect 3.

    Here is what I would have done.
    - Release Syndicate a minimum of 2 months after Mass Effect 3 release
    - Build a cross promotion from Mass Effect 3 about the Syndicate within Mass Effect 3
    - Offer people codes in Syndicate for items in both Syndicate and Mass Effect 3. weapons,
    attachments etc
    - Unlock free content in Syndicate for having a certain ranking in Mass Effect 3
    - Unlock a special character in Mass Effect 3 after reaching a certain ranking in Syndicate
    - Unlock a special character in Syndicate after reaching a certain ranking in Mass Effect 3
    - Release more co-op missions above all , 9 were good but at least another 10.

    "A small group"

    No, it was a large group of people who thought this game had nothing to do with the original (classic) game.

    What a waste of an IP. This is the best you could do?

    Keep being proud of a generic shooter trying to cash in on a beloved IP that your entire team had zero to do with in the first place. People and studios like this are cancer.

    "If we didn’t do an exact copy of the game, they’d hate us. If we did do an exact copy, they’d say we didn’t innovate. They were never ours to win; it was a lost battle from the get-go."

    What a stupid comment. I don't know anyone who wanted a 'direct copy'. If they had kept the same genre and then innovated then maybe things may have gone better for them.

      Here's an even better idea: if you're going to make a cyberpunk action game that has NOTHING whatsoever in common with the original Syndicate, TRY CALLING IT SOMETHING OTHER THAN 'SYNDICATE'! I hate it when companies try to cannibalise an old and revered franchise just to try and wring some bucks out of the name.

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