There are plenty of independently made strategy games on iOS and Android, but the era of big budget console and PC strategy game making is long over. The release of XCOM: Enemy Unknown back at the beginning of October wasn’t just the surprising rebirth of a long dormant franchise, but an entire genre. Creative Assembly, makers of the Sega-published Total War strategy series, sit alongside Firaxis as the keepers of a faded art: The big budget strategy game. The studio is doing well for itself in the current game industry, though, so well in fact that it’s branching out into a new series. Creative Assembly is making a Warhammer game.
Sega and Creative Assembly announced on Thursday morning that they had acquired the license for Warhammer from Games Workshop. For those unfamiliar with the name, Warhammer is a role-playing game series of the pen, paper, and tabletop variety. The thirty-year-old series is set in a Lord of the Rings-style fantasy universe full of wizards, elves, and monsters and it’s spawned a number of video game offshoots over the years, including Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning by Mythic Entertainment.
It’s not clear what type of Warhammer game Creative Assembly is making. The studio is actually hiring for a brand new development team to work on the franchise. “We’ll be doing the Warhammer universe justice in a way that has never been attempted before,” said studio director Tim Heaton, “We’re bringing those twenty-five years of experience and expertise in high-scoring games to bear, delivering a Warhammer experience that video gamers will absolutely love.”
Translation: We’re making a game and it will be good since our other games are good.
2012 was an unstable year for Creative Assembly. After a miserable financial performance in 2011, Sega greatly scaled back its development operations going as far as shutting down most of Sega Europe. The company did commit to keeping the Total War franchise going so Creative Assembly seemed secure. The studio even expanded, opening another new team to develop a new Aliens game for Xbox 720 and PlayStation 4. Despite the tumult throughout Sega, the publisher isn’t backing away from investing in Creative Assembly or its brand of strategy game.
The Warhammer license is tied to another financially unstable publisher. One of the few licenses THQ still holds onto is Warhammer 40,000, the science fiction offshoot of the series. Unlike the UFC license, which THQ lost to EA earlier this year, it will continue to hold the Warhammer 40,000 license despite the new deal with Sega.