Hellblade 2 Developer Ninja Theory Says Its Fans Enjoy Shorter Games


The developer of Hellblade 2 has explained why it prefers making shorter games, insisting digital distribution has opened the door “to games of all shapes and sizes.”

Microsoft-owned developer Ninja Theory will soon release Hellblade 2, which costs $50, is digital-only, and about eight hours long. It follows 2020’s multiplayer online game Bleeding Edge, and 2017’s Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, itself a cheaper, shorter game that launched without a physical release.

In a recent interview with IGN (check out IGN’s Hellblade 2 preview for more), Ninja Theory studio head Dom Matthews said Hellblade 2 is “the right shape and size of experience” to tell the story the developers intended to make.

“I think what we always set out to do is to tell a story and for the game length to be appropriate for the story that we want to tell,” Matthews said. “So it’s not really a case of setting out to make shorter experiences. I think it is… There is a story that we want to tell here with a beginning, middle and end and what is the right shape and size of experience to tell that story? So that’s kind of where we start.”

Matthews said Ninja Theory has found an audience for shorter games where “every step of that journey is meaningful.”

“What I would say as well though is that I think that since digital distribution has become a thing, it has opened the industry up to games of all shapes and sizes, which I think is really great,” Matthews commented. “So I’m really pleased to see that there’s a lot of people that actually enjoy a shorter experience, something that they can sit down on a whatever Friday night, stick their headphones on, turn the lights off and kind of sink into an experience and players who don’t necessarily want something that is 50 hours long, a 100 hours long, so it’s as long as it needs to be. And I’m one of those people, I like shorter games.

“I think there’s a lot of pressure on people’s time these days and I think our fans, from what we hear from them, they enjoy a shorter game where our intention is that every step of that journey is meaningful… There’s an audience of people that want games that are focused.”

Nowadays, with more video games launching straight into subscription services and without physical versions, it has become increasingly difficult to measure success, at least from the outside looking in. As a first-party Xbox game, Hellblade 2 launches day-one on Game Pass on May 21, 2024. While it will also be available to buy standalone across PC via Steam and Xbox, Hellblade 2 seems unlikely to prove its value through sales alone.

For Ninja Theory, though, there are many measures of Hellblade 2’s success. “I think for us as a studio, well my focus as well as studio head is how can we empower the team here, the artists here to go and create an experience, and how do we get it out to the widest possible audience?” Matthews explained.

“I think success for us is, we would love for as many players to play our games as possible, but I think particularly with Hellblade we love and I love that magic that you can achieve by creating something that makes people think and feel. So if I think about the things that I want to achieve in Hellblade 2, once it’s released, the thing that will put the biggest smile on my face is to see fans of Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice and people who like those kind of game saying you’ve continued Senua’s journey in a way that is worthy of that character.”

Wesley is the UK News Editor for IGN. Find him on Twitter at @wyp100. You can reach Wesley at wesley_yinpoole@ign.com or confidentially at wyp100@proton.me.



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