Tyranny ‘Didn’t Meet’ Sales Expectations, Publisher Reveals

Tyranny ‘Didn’t Meet’ Sales Expectations, Publisher Reveals

If you’re the kind of roleplayer that likes playing and inhabiting villainous dickheads, Tyranny was quite the treat. And for the most part, the game was warmly received – both by critics and reviewers on Steam.

But praise is one thing; sales is another. And according to a new interview, Tyranny didn’t do quite enough of the latter.

In a chat with PCGamesN at Paradox Con over the weekend, Paradox CEO Fred Wester said the game was “solid” but that “a lot of people are still on the fence to buy it” and that “everyone was hoping that it would do better”.

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“We’ve seen that most of the titles after Pillars of Eternity, if you look at [Wasteland 2], Torment [Tides of Numenera] – they haven’t been anywhere near that kind of success. So maybe it’s that a lot of nostalgia fed into the initial bubble and that’s why. These games have a market, but it’s never gonna be that peak [again],” Paradox vice president of business development Shams Jorjani added.

Timing was another potential reason cited for the game’s middling success. Tyranny launched November 10 last year. That’s one of the busiest windows in the video game calendar, right alongside Call of Duty, Dishonored 2, Watch Dogs 2, Titanfall 2, the latest Football Manager, and Pokemon Sun and Moon.

Even notable smaller titles were gaining a lot of attention on Steam around the same time, including Owlboy, Planet Coaster (which was available on Early Access prior to its November 17 release), and the full release of Killing Floor 2. They’re not games that play in the same ballpark as Tyranny, but they fight for the same amount of attention on Steam, and their success could have just as easily drowned the Obsidian RPG out.

It’s a bit of a shame considering the path Tyranny had to walk, having been borne out of the ashes of another abandoned Obsidian project, Stormlands. Stormlands was meant to be a AAA release for the Xbox One launch, only for Microsoft to can the project.

Tyranny Emerged From The Game That Nearly Sank Obsidian

Once upon a time, Pillars of Eternity and Fallout. New Vegas developer Obsidian was working on a major Xbox One RPG called Stormlands. Then it got cancelled, and Obsidian had to lay off 30 people, a large portion of a relatively small staff. Turns out, Tyranny, Obsidian's new RPG in which evil has already won, partially emerged from Stormlands' ashes.

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That said, there is always the prospect of Tyranny gaining a lot of popularity around the next Steam sale. Jorjani stressed it was a “largely underappreciated gem” and that things could change with an expansion or two. And if anything, people are consistent: if gamers are interested in something but don’t buy it the first time around, they’re likely to do so whenever it drops in price.


  • Yeah I skipped this one for the same reason I don’t play GTA, I don’t find any enjoyment in being the bad guy.

    • You aren’t necessarily the bad guy. You (and the world) are essentially beholden to this overlord who is all powerful. You are kind of like his Judge Dredd in a lot of ways, but the game doesn’t railroad you into doing dumb evil things for no reason.

  • I really wanted to pick this up at the time having loved Pillars, but yeah that release window was a real bad idea. It also was quite expensive – not that it isn’t worth it, I think it is the right price for it, but it’s price made it harder to just pick up as an “I’ll get to it later” sort of game.

    On the flip side, literally bought this last week as the last game in going to buy for the next few years, so it scraped in for me 🙂

    • Last game for the next few years? Are you going to hibernate or something? 😛

      • I’ve decided I’m not buying any more games until I’ve finished with the ones I already own, which is 120 games worth, so it’s gonna take a while 😛

        But for real, hibernating sounds like a damn good idea xD

        • Well, that is a game in and of itself. A game about finishing a backlog of games. INCEPTION

          • IT’S GAMECEPTION

            Like gamifcation, except not really because the only thing they have in common is a ridiculous name

        • This is an admiral pursuit. Especially when nearly every major game nowadays is basically a variation on the same game. Good luck.

          • Ha yeah, it’s gonna be interesting – Have like 5 Assassins Creed’s on the list lol. Then again, the list covers RPG’s, shooters, 4X’s, tactics, indies, platformers… hopefully I’ll be able to keep it fresh by cycling through them a bit xD

    • For the length of gameplay, it genuinely isn’t worth ‘full-price’. It feels like it ends prematurely and, despite the great fun I had playing through the game, it felt like it was still just getting warmed up.

      • I get the feeling it’s the type of game that’s meant to be replayed for the variations it offers, which is what gives it the length? Or have I got that wrong and it’s a once off?

        • It’s a game that takes different people wildly different amounts of time on their first playthrough. I’ve seen people complain it’s too short and I’ve also seen people complain that it drags on for too long.

          My first playthrough took around 40 hours but some people finish their first run in as few as 15-20. It’s certainly not particularly big as far as RPGs go but I definitely felt like I got my money’s worth, and I didn’t have a problem with how it ended.

          Besides, size isn’t everything… the first Fallout and Baldur’s Gate games are both pretty small by RPG standards and both of those are wonderful games.

          • Gotta be honest, you saying it’s shorter for an RPG actually makes me more interested to play it haha. Not that I didn’t love Pillars, but the third act kind of fell off a bit where the second was definitely the strongest. If it can captivate me in 40 hours instead of 80, I’m all in!

          • Have to agree, I’m time poor. 25-40hrs is about right for my interest in a game. Too many games (eg open world games) have a lot of filler just so they can say how long they are. Quality > quantity.

  • well that’s a damn shame because I enjoyed Tyranny even more than I enjoyed Pillars, and I loved Pillars.
    They did a fantastic job getting me invested in the world and the forces/politics/people moving it.

    • I didn’t jump on it because I remember Pillars being buggy, especially with pathfinding and I remember the AI for your party members being retarded. Is that better in Tyranny?

      • Well yes and no. I noticed no casual annoying bugs like bad pathfinding. but I ran in to one awful one that halted my playthrough in its tracks. basically in the specific path I’d taken in the story a flag wasn’t firing after a conversation that should have continued my main quest. waited for a week and a patch fixed it. It was a pretty big buzzkill at the time but I’d be surprised if any such bugs remain these days.

        • Thanks, I’ll probably pick it up when I have the feeling for a good CRPG.

  • Pillars felt so archaic after playing Divinity OS. It totally killed my interest in Tyranny.

    • I feel that. Divinity on PS4 is a perfect example of how to make a CRPG for consoles too. It made me very annoyed at Wasteland 2.

      Torment kind of wore me out with its writing, but I’ll get back to it at some point. I’d get Tyranny if it was on console, but I still know it won’t be nearly as enjoyable to play as Divinity.

  • Yeah, I was pretty hyped for this, but it’s been languishing on my Steam wishlist for a while. Some other time, maybe, when my PC isn’t a secondary gaming platform (due to being downstairs and through the garage to the living room, instead of upstairs in my bedroom like the PS4). Or when I’m not struggling to get through guaranteed fucking gold that’s filling my playlist. Tyranny came out shortly before I grabbed FF15. There was no contest, and the hits have just kept coming since then.

  • and the hits have just kept coming since then

    Man you should be a DJ. That’s a gold quote!

  • I was very interested in it – I do love Obsidian and I’m sad that Stormlands didn’t get made – but I was waiting for a sale (like the summer sale) before I jumped in. I have a massive backlog

  • Tyranny was really good. I’ll replay it going a different path when I get some free time. Well worth a go. I do agree the end came a bit suddenly, but everything until that point was awesome. Companion combos and spell crafting are great ideas.

  • I feel like there was a lot of issues. Timing. Poor marketing. The fact it kind of got bookended by Pillars, the Pillars expansions, and the kickstarter for the sequel. It felt like a side project that Obsidian wasn’t really invested in.

  • I think a big part of the issue is the target market. It is at gamers who remember the golden age of crpg which makes them an older group. Older games have less time so the number of larger games we can devote time to is limited.
    Coming after the other games listed above there is just to much playtime there for me to be able to deal with. I’ll likely pick it up but considering the similar games I have in my backlog it will be a while.

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