We recently caught up with Avalanche Studios co-founder and chief creative officer Christofer Sundberg at the Avalanche Studios offices in Stockholm. The expanding studio is getting ready to move into new offices later in the year having spent more than a decade at their current digs and there's no mistaking the importance of the Just Cause franchise as Avalanche are getting ready to launch the third title later this year on PC, PS4 and Xbox One.
"[The Just Cause franchise] is very important to me and it's very important to the whole studio," says chief creative officer. "It was our first game. It was an IP that I originally wrote and it's been growing with the studio and it has sold millions of units across the world. We have a great group of fans that keeps on playing the game five years after the last game was released. So it means a lot to the studio and not only because it's a game that sells well and that it's sort of fun and so on, but it set the tone for how we approach game development and how we approach game design so it's hugely important."
The decision to develop Just Cause 3 at a new studio in New York and not having the Stockholm team work on it was something that grew out of the difficulties Avalanche suffered during development of Just Cause 2. Avalanche had been expanding to a studio working on three projects in parallel, but as two projects were cancelled in quick succession they had to cut down on staff as Just Cause 2 became their only source of income.
"When we released Just Cause 2 we'd just gone through a quite rough phase for the studio," explains Sundberg. "So we were quite exhausted here in Stockholm. And at the same time we were planning the set up of a US operation. We didn't know that it would be a AAA studio, but once we decided to sort of dive all in and set up a AAA studio in New York - the opportunities matched."
2015 is shaping up to be a massive year for Avalanche Studios. Subsidiary Expansive Worlds are hoping to fully launch theHunter: Primal (currently on Steam Early Access), their first mobile title Rumble City (out on Amazon, soon on Android/iOS) launches, as well as major projects Mad Max and Just Cause 3.
"Like many things at Avalanche it was certainly nothing that we planned," says Sundberg with a smile. "It just happened to be that way. But 2015 is a huge year, but also with great success comes great responsibility to take the studio to the next level. So it's not only the pressure of having two big games being released in the same year. Also adds pressure to the studio to evolve and we're expanding our self-publishing business quite a lot with The Hunter and theHunter: Primal as sort of the foundation for that. We're releasing our first mobile game this year and we hope to expand that business a little bit while we're keeping on with the bigger AAA projects."