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Manor Lords publisher defends early access strategy

Manor Lords publisher defends early access strategy

Manor Lords

Raphael van Lierop, CEO of Hinterland, recently shared his thoughts on the early access performance of the medieval city builder Manor Lords. Van Lierop praised the game’s quality but expressed concerns about the lack of significant updates since its release. “It launched with a pretty strong base game but without much content,” van Lierop wrote.

“A heavily systems-centric game needs either a range of maps, game modes, or some amount of procedural generation to keep it fresh. Manor Lords has none of those things. So once you’ve played 5-10 rounds of the game, there’s nothing more to do.

Van Lierop believes that the game’s developer, Slavic Magic, should have collaborated with publisher Hooded Horse to ensure timely updates.

“The game has been out for 2.5 months with three fairly small patches and no new content. This isn’t enough to retain players,” he argued. In response, Tim Bender, CEO of Hooded Horse, defended Manor Lords’ current trajectory.

Concerns over early access updates

He believes the issues raised are part of a broader and somewhat flawed industry expectation for constant and rapid growth. This is precisely the distorted endless growth perspective that causes so much trouble in the games industry,” Bender said.

“Success should not create an ever-raising bar of new growth expectations. Not every game should be aimed at becoming some live-service boom or bust.”

Bender revealed that he had warned Slavic Magic about these kinds of criticisms before the game’s release. He emphasized the need for the gaming industry to find a sustainable path forward.

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The release should not begin an ever-accelerating treadmill on which devs are forced to run until their mental or physical health breaks down,” Bender remarked. Despite these differing viewpoints, Manor Lords has achieved impressive early access stats, with over 170,000 concurrent players at its peak. Since it entered into early access two and a half months ago, the game has seen three patches addressing various issues and adding new features.

The ongoing conversation between van Lierop and Bender underscores the complexities and pressures of game development, particularly within the Early Access model. While both sides make valid points, the larger takeaway highlights the need for balanced expectations and sustainable growth practices in the gaming industry.

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