Skip to main content

Long read: The beauty and drama of video games and their clouds

"It's a little bit hard to work out without knowing the altitude of that dragon..."

If you click on a link and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Read our editorial policy.

Bethesda's Pete Hines on Prey 2, the decline of triple-A games, and what's next for the publisher

"I would hope, if nothing else, that Bethesda is known for being willing to do things that other folks won't."

Bethesda VP of PR and marketing Pete Hines.

Elder Scrolls and Fallout developer Bethesda might be the most guarded publisher out there today. At this year's E3 showfloor, most publishers are showing off a multitude of titles. There's usually a big budget triple-A release or three, a handful of digital titles, and maybe a mobile game or two to round out the booth. By comparison, Bethesda was showcasing only three games: first-person reboot, Wolfenstein: New Order; Shinji Mikami's survival horror curio The Evil Within; and MMORPG spin-off The Elder Scrolls Online.

It's not that any of these games look bad (I'm particularly excited about the Evil Within), but it's only natural for fans to ask 'Where's Fallout 4?" "What's Id working on?" and "Whatever happened to Prey 2?" Fortunately, I'm able to put forth such questions to Bethesda VP of PR and marketing Pete Hines as we discuss the studio's upcoming roster and its philosophy to picking projects.

Eurogamer: Rumour has it that Arkane's new Austin studio is working on Prey 2. What can you say about that?

Pete Hines: We're not going to comment on all the rumour and speculation.

We were clearly not happy with where Prey 2 was in terms of where it was in its development. We're obviously very disappointed that we spent a lot of time and effort and a considerable amount of money supporting the development of that project to make it a great game. But it was also clear in development that it was not hitting the high bar that we'd expected and agreed to. That's ultimately where it rests. We're not going to continue with a project just because we said we were going to make it or people are interested in it.

If and when we have an update beyond that, we'll let folks know. We understand that folks are disappointed. They're certainly not more disappointed than we are in how all this has played out given our commitment to the game up to that point, but we're not going to blindly stumble ahead if the game isn't living up to its promise.

Rumoured to have crash-landed in Texas, Prey 2 is still lost in space.

Eurogamer: Can you say what Id is working on these days?

Pete Hines: They are hard at work on their next project. We're not ready to talk about or show it yet, but I'm pretty pleased with how it's come along. I actually played a decent bit of it recently and thought it looked really good and it's definitely headed in the right direction.

I would hope, if nothing else, that Bethesda is known for being willing to do things that other folks won't.

Eurogamer: How did The Evil Within come about? It seems like a pretty big departure for Bethesda.

Pete Hines: We have an office in Japan that keeps up with a lot of folks in the Japanese publishing and development industry. I don't remember whether he reached out to us or we reached out to him, but it was a case of "we really liked that guy, we like his creativity." He has a ton of experience, and we feel like he has a talented team at Tango.

We liked the idea of doing a pure survival horror. It's not something that we're known for, but at the same time his game had a lot of hallmarks that we respected as game developers and game publishers in terms of what he wanted to accomplish. I would hope, if nothing else, that Bethesda is known for being willing to do things that other folks won't, even if it's a good idea. We continue to make single-player games when other people will tell you it [the industry] is moving away from single-player, and we make big, massive RPGs when nobody else is really doing that. We don't get tied down to particular genres. We're just looking for cool stuff. That's our philosophy.

The most interesting scene I saw in Wolfenstein: The New Order involves this old lady and her boy toy.

Eurogamer: Speaking of single-player only games, Wolfenstein: New Order is the first game in the series in over a decade not to include multiplayer. Can you explain why that is?

Pete Hines: We talked to Machine Games about the game they wanted to make and multiplayer wasn't in their thought-process.

We're not going to force it down their throats and say, "well, the last games did, so you have to do it." These guys do cool stuff. If you look at The Chronicles of Riddick or you look at The Darkness, those games have a creative element to them that is similar to the things they're doing in Wolfenstein and that's what attracted us to them, and that's what attracted us to their vision of Wolfenstein. And we said "okay, run with that." We're not going to say, "Oh, we'll find somebody else to do the multiplayer." Wolfenstein: New Order is as you describe it. End of discussion.

We feel like we really know who we are and we know what we're good at.

Eurogamer: What are your thoughts about Wii U?

Pete Hines: We have nothing announced in development for Wii U. It's not something that we've done anything for previously. I don't even remember the last time we've done a Nintendo title. We don't have anything now. Whether or not we would in the future is TBD. As for why, I guess I'd rather not go into that.

Eurogamer: What about digital games like XBLA and PSN?

Pete Hines: We don't have Facebook stuff. We don't have mobile stuff. We feel like we really know who we are and we know what we're good at. That's not to say that we wouldn't do an iPhone game or an XBLA thing, but it would have to be at a certain time where it would feel right coming from us. If we're not going to do that, then we're just not going to bother. Those are cool markets and people are doing really well [in it], but that's just not what we do.

Spring [from the womb of the elder god] breeeeaaaakk!

Eurogamer: Are you worried about the decline of triple-A games? A lot of recent sequels haven't sold as well as their predecessors and the divide between smaller digital games and blockbusters is becoming narrower.

Even if all triple-A games were doing well, I would be worried that we'll be the first that won't.

Pete Hines: I don't think there's any scenario in which I would never be worried about anything. Even if all triple-A games were doing well, I would be worried that we'll be the first that won't. It's my job to worry. If you just assume that everything's going to be great, that's a very dangerous mindset to get into. I feel like we continue to do pretty well [with] the success of Skyrim, the success of Dishonored. We continue to stick to what we know and have done pretty well doing it and that's how we're going to proceed going forward.

Awhile ago it was social games that were all the rage and [people were asking] "why aren't we doing Facebook?" That's not what we do, and now that's no longer a big deal. So we didn't run after it and now we're not running away from it. We're just going to kind of stick to what we feel is best.

And that's not to say we're not branching out. We started a new studio out in Austin led by Rich Vogel called Battlecry, which is working on a free-to-play title, so we're clearly not "oh, it only needs to be premium priced triple-A stuff on a disc." We have other stuff in the works.

Eurogamer: I know you get this a lot, but I've gotta ask: Is there anything you can say about a possible Fallout 4?

Pete Hines:[We're] not talking about what those guys are up to. They just announced they're moving on to their next project and it is going to be a long while until they are ready to talk. And that's true of all of our studios, whether that's Arkane or whomever. When these guys move off a project- these are not short cycles. You should not expect within a day, week, month, or even a year, that they're just ready to roll out the next thing. It just doesn't happen that fast.

Eurogamer: Do you think that's what happened to Prey 2? Do you think you announced it too early?

Pete Hines: No. I think we announced it when we felt we were ready. As I said, we reached a point in development where we felt the game was not progressing like it should and was not hitting the high bar that it had to. Those are different things. We had checkpoints along the way to say "is this living up?" "Is this as fun as it's supposed to be?" "Is it the game that we all signed up for and delivering what we told people it was going to deliver?"