Just Cause maker Avalanche Studios has set its sights on becoming the best open world developer.
With Just Cause 3 heavily rumoured to be in the works for next generation consoles and PC, the privately owned independent developer has grown substantially and now has over 200 employees across studios in Stockholm and New York.
"We are set on becoming the best open world developer," Avalanche boss Christofer Sundberg told Eurogamer in an exclusive interview. "That's our ultimate goal.
"It's a very competitive genre," he admitted. "Rockstar is more of a phenomenon than a competitor. What we can offer to the genre is diversity, which very few other open world developers can."
Just Cause 2 launched in 2010 to critical acclaim, and some believe it to be the best open world action game of this generation.
But it is the eye-catching 600-player multiplayer modification for Just Cause 2 that has done most to keep the series in the public eye. It's still in beta, but that hasn't stopped more than 10,000 people from registering on the mod's forum - and Sundberg is delighted by it.
What the guys have done with the multiplayer mod is fantastic, and it completely came out of left field. So we have them to thank for a lot. It's even too crazy for Just Cause. If we had done it it would have been more planned - Avalanche Studios boss Christofer Sundberg.
"We definitely looked at doing a multiplayer component to Just Cause 2," he revealed. "But for budgeting reasons and planning reasons it didn't happen. If we did a multiplayer component it would be suitable to the IP, which it obviously is. But it would also be thought through and planned to make sure it's not something that just ends up on the back of the box.
"During the development of Just Cause 2 that discussion came so late, and with everything that was going on at Eidos and Square with the merger, it was a big decision. So we didn't move forward with it. If we had moved forward with it, it would have been quite a large budget multiplayer component. So, for various reasons it didn't happen. But we had it on top of our mind.
"But what the guys have done now with the multiplayer mod is fantastic, and it completely came out of left field. So we have them to thank for a lot. It's even too crazy for Just Cause. If we had done it it would have been more planned. Since it's a mod, it's just like DayZ, they can get away with a lot, which we wouldn't be able to unfortunately as a developer."
There are three triple-A projects, one based on an original IP and two based on licenses, in the works at Avalanche. One of these is undoubtedly Just Cause 3. Avalanche's New York studio is working on Project Mamba for consoles and PC for release in 2014.
With publishers in control of these games, Sundberg was unable to talk in detail about them, but he did say Just Cause is "absolutely perfect for next generation consoles based on what we know so far".
Is Just Cause 3 a next generation launch title? "We'll see," Sundberg replied.
"Thanks to the multiplayer mod, the future of the franchise has become even brighter. I'm still hopeful!
"We believe in the idea of continuing to build those big worlds with a lot of fun and crazy content to play around with. Open world game players are anarchists, just like us. It's funny. When you tell a player in one of our games to go right, they always go left. Planning around that mindset, that you can never predict what the player will do, and always counting on the player to break your game, is quite interesting."
Sundberg was able to talk about the growth of the studio in more general terms, though. "It is a lot to work on," he said. "It's been interesting to work with two licenses. The studio has grown massively with those two projects. They will be announced in the fall of this year - one of them at least. We just have to wait and talk about the specifics then."
Open world game players are anarchists, just like us. When you tell a player in one of our games to go right, they always go left.
Avalanche is doing its best to prepare for the future and the impending launch of the next PlayStation and Xbox, Sundberg said.
"We came in quite late on the PlayStation 2 cycle. Even though Just Cause 1 on PS2 wasn't the best game in the world, it still was as a company a great learning experience and a great test of our technology, to prove it to be scalable.
"The engine team has a close eye on the future console. They plan and design their technology with that in mind. No hardware manufacturer wants to make the developer's life harder. It's easier to plan now that it was back in the day."
He added: "We are diverse. We're geared to what the future and what the future consoles might be. It's a nice mix. It's a great set up for the future. It's a very close future, but also it makes us a more attractive employer."