Youngblood might've just been the beginning of MachineGames' co-op ambitions, and the studio is interested in infusing more multiplayer components into its games.
Today MachineGames re-confirmed our suspicions: More co-op games are probably on the way. In a Bethesda.net post, the studio expressed desires to make another online multiplayer game of some sort whether it be co-op or traditional multiplayer. The studio is interested in taking its learnings with Youngblood and applying them to future games. Microsoft will be glad to hear this. Now that MachineGames is a first-party Xbox studio, it's only natural for its games to have live service-style hooks with engagement-driven mechanics, i.e. unlockables, co-op, and other online content specifically designed for Xbox Game Pass subscriber growth and retention.
The Wolfenstein developer started off with the standalone online co-op multiplayer game Wolfenstein Youngblood, which was actually monetized with in-game purchases. That move was part of Bethesda's push into live services, a push that's seen most of its big IPs transition into online-driven games (ESO, Fallout 76, etc). This live service focus was an attractive business model for Microsoft and helped add value to the recent $7.5 billion Bethesda buyout. It folds perfectly with Microsoft's emphasis on services.
Wolfenstein Youngblood was the first multiplayer title from the studio. What were some of the learnings you had in designing a multiplayer game vs a single-player experience, and is multiplayer something we're going to see more of from MachineGames?
Fredrik Ljungdahl, Gameplay Director
"We love co-op games, so it was a great experience to bring co-op to the Wolfenstein universe with Youngblood. Designing for multiplayer is quite different compared to single-player games and it's also a lot harder to test. Especially as we also made the game a lot less linear compared to what we are used to. The specially crafted events that we've been known to use in previous games are often based on the player's location and progression and other sets of known "facts." These assumptions and frameworks don't necessarily work in the co-op, nonlinear approach.
"We learned a lot on Youngblood, and it would be fun to apply some of that knowledge to future games."
John Jennings, Production Director
"Our first foray into multiplayer with Youngblood helped us learn a lot from both a gameplay and from a technical perspective. Understanding that doing the technical learning at the same time as doing the gameplay learning may be too much of a challenge is possibly one of our biggest takeaways, and it's one we won't need to go through a second time in multiplayer development."
MachineGames also plans to build its games specifically for next-gen NVMe PCIe 4.0 SSD tech to revolutionize gameplay. SSDs will break barriers that HDDs kept up for a long time, including eliminating seek times and asset duplication, blasting data to components at high rates to significantly reduce load times and completely eliminate any need for lengthy transition points during gameplay.
It's likely Wolfenstein 3 will have some sort of co-op functionality or multiplayer mode.
This isn't the first time we've heard about MachineGames delving deeper into co-op. Recent job listings hinted as much. In 2019, studio head Jerk Gustafsson discussed adding online multiplayer modes into future Wolfenstein games.
"I'm pretty sure that whatever we do in the future it will have an online component," Gustafsson said in an interview with GamesBeat. "You'll be able to play with your friends. But with that said, what I feel is equally important, a very important thing for me personally, is that a Machine Games title will always let you play solo. That's an important thing for us. So I'm pretty sure it will be a combination."