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Many great games suffered poor sales due to their release in a crowded game window. Immortals of Aveum by Ascendant Studios happens to be one of them. Bret Robbins, the CEO of Ascendant Studios and the game director of Immortals of Aveum recently appeared on the Xbox Expansion Pass YouTube channel anchored by Samuel Tolbert where he talked about the challenges of their new IP and the company’s recent layoffs.

Immortals Of Aveum Maker, Ascendant Studios Blames 45% Staff Layoff On Poor Sales

Immortals of Aveum was launched on August 22, 2023. The first-person shooter was published by Electronic Arts and features magic-based combat similar to Forspoken released earlier in the year. Although the game featured a colorful environment and a good storyline, it didn’t find initial success.

Tolbert asked Robbins if the game’s release in a packed year had something to do with its disappointing sales. Robbins believed the timing of the release was “100%” responsible for its poor performance. However, there was little the studio could do to change that.

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“We were not in a position where we could delay or push out of our launch window,” Robbins said. “You set those windows quite a bit ahead of time because you’re spending marketing dollars, you have commitments to a particular date.”

According to Robbins, Baldur’s Gate 3 “blowing up right before Immortals of Aveum’s launch” significantly affected sales. In addition to that, the game was released close to Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon and Starfield—which were also highly anticipated titles.

“I’ve never seen a year like this,” Robbins said. “It’s always hard to break through the noise when you’re a new IP or a studio people haven’t heard of before. Trying to create awareness for us was really, really difficult. It’s always hard for a new IP and this year made it ten times harder.”

Ascendant Studios laid off 40% of its workforce a few weeks after the launch of Immortals of Aveum

Immortals Of Aveum Maker, Ascendant Studios Blames 45% Staff Layoff On Poor Sales

Around mid-September this year, news broke that Ascendant Studios had laid off 40% of its workforce. According to Polygon, the decision affected 40 employees. The studio had 100 employees as of April 2023. During the interview with Xbox Expansion Pass, Robbins also talked about the layoff.

“The layoffs really sucked,” Robbins said. “There’s no two ways around that. We are not a big corporation. Our business relies on selling games, and we didn’t sell enough games. That forced me to make that decision, which was really unfortunate. These are people I worked closely with, people who put their heart and soul into the game. You never, ever want to have to do that.”

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Robbins said that when making games, a lot of things “are out of your control”, especially the market. While he wasn’t happy about the layoff, he said that he was happy that some of them have found new roles in other companies and hopes to work with many of them again as Ascendant Studios grows.

Immortals Of Aveum Maker, Ascendant Studios Blames 45% Staff Layoff On Poor Sales

Immortals of Aveum didn’t enjoy the best of receptions. On Metacritic, its highest score was 76 on Xbox. That number slid down to 69 on PS5 and further to 65 on PC. The only perfect score review the game received was from Impulsegamer which called it “a fresh change”.

Since the wave of big releases is almost over, Robbins hopes that more players will find time to try the game. He is also banking on the price slash to encourage more players to give the game a try.

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“I’m happy that people that have engaged with the game really like it and enjoy it, and we’re really hoping that with our new push coming out later this week, a lot of people who didn’t have the time for it because there were so many other things to play, they find it. We’re also going to have a big reduction, a half-off sale, and things like that, so that hopefully will help people too.”

Echollector Update and the possibility of making it to Xbox Game Pass

Immortals Of Aveum Maker, Ascendant Studios Blames 45% Staff Layoff On Poor Sales

The Echollector Update for Immortals of Aveum was launched on November 16. It came with improvements, bug fixes, and added a Free Trial and PC Demo. These allow players to play the first few missions and can carry their progress into the game if they purchase it.

Other additions that came with the update include New Game+ which allows players to return to the game after beating the campaign with all their key progression features. A new difficulty was also added to the game. Robbins said that some of these were part of the original plan for the game but the development timeline meant they had to be delayed.

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Asked if Immortals of Aveum would come to subscription services like PlayStation Plus or Xbox Game Pass, Robbins did not rule out the possibility.

“Those services give a wider funnel,” he said. “More people might engage with the game, that’s always good. We are talking to them about getting the game onto both of those services. We don’t have a date yet, I’m pretty sure it’s gonna happen, though.”

See the close-to-an-hour interview below.

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Emecheta Christian

Emecheta Christian is an avid gamer with over 5 years in the industry. He is also a poet. It is therefore not surprising that his post sometimes read like poetry.

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