|Formerly||Remedy Entertainment Oy (1995–2017)|
|Nasdaq Helsinki: REMEDY|
|Founded||18 August 1995|
Number of employees
Remedy Entertainment Oyj is a Finnish video game developer based in Espoo. Notable games the studio has developed include the first two instalments in the Max Payne franchise, Alan Wake, Quantum Break and Control. Sam Lake, the writer and face model for Max Payne in the original game, has represented the company on numerous occasions.
Founded in August 1995 by members of demoscene group Future Crew, Remedy Entertainment created their first game, Death Rally, in a team member's basement. Apogee Software served as the game's publisher, and continued to be involved in the production of their next title, Max Payne, which received critical acclaim upon release. The game was followed by a sequel, Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne. After spending seven years working on the Max Payne franchise, the developer decided to create a new intellectual property called Alan Wake. This title was once suspected to be vaporware because of the length of time it took to produce and release. It gained a cult following when it was released in 2010, though its sales were not enough to justify the production of a sequel. Remedy decided to pursue a new project named Quantum Break, which further expanded the live-action component of Alan Wake. The team had transitioned to become a multi-project studio since 2016, and had three projects in development, including Control and the single-player portions of CrossfireX.
Remedy Entertainment has specialised in making cinematic single-player action games featuring a strong central character. They create a game engine for their titles, most notably Northlight for Quantum Break. The studio underwent rapid expansion during the 2010s. It became a public company in 2017, and moved into a larger office in Espoo in 2018.
Background and founding (1995–1998)
The company was founded by members of different demoscene groups that worked on creating demos for personal computers (PCs) and Commodore International's Amiga PCs. In 1994, inspired by Bloodhouse and Terramarque, Finland's first commercial video game developers, members of the Future Crew demogroup realised that their group would not evolve into a commercial developer by itself, and they would have to set up a new company. They decided to found the company they called Remedy to produce video games and began recruiting other like-minded individuals with a demoscene background. Remedy's founding members were Samuli Syvähuoko, Markus Mäki, Sami Nopanen, John Kavaleff and Sami Vanhatalo. The company was officially established on 18 August 1995. At the time the company was founded, most members were only in their early twenties. They produced their first video game in the basement of Syvähuoko's parents' house in Espoo's Westend district.
The team began developing a racing game, initially known as HiSpeed, based on the first idea the team pitched. Scott Miller, the founder of Apogee Software, provided creative input and suggested the racing game should introduce vehicular combat elements. Renamed Death Rally, Apogee Software released the game in 1996. Needing dialog for the game, Remedy's Petri Järvilehto contacted a long-time friend Sam Lake, who was studying English literature at Helsinki University of Technology at the time, to help; Lake subsequently remained at Remedy and would eventually become the studio's creative director.
In 1997, Remedy also created a benchmarking tool, Final Reality, with the team later spinning off as a new sister company, Futuremark. In a letter dated 9 July 1998, LucasArts, through attorney John Sullivan, approached Remedy and threatened legal action, claiming the Remedy logo was copied from the top part of LucasArts' logo. By that time, Remedy had already been in the process of redesigning their logo, as their logo at the time did not properly reflect Remedy as a company. The old logo was taken off Remedy's website in July, and was replaced by a question mark. The new logo, designed by Kiia Kallio, was unveiled on 29 April 1999.
Max Payne series (1999–2005)
Following the release of Death Rally, Remedy began pitching their next project to Miller. One was a space flight simulation game like Descent: FreeSpace, one was a racing game, while another was an isometric shooter named Dark Justice. Miller decided to fund the shooter's development, on the condition the game had a strong central character like Duke Nukem, 3D graphics, and a better name. He felt Dark Justice was too "dark" and "adult". The team proposed different possibilities, ranging from "Dick Justice" to "Max Heat", a name the company trademarked for $20,000, before settling on the name "Max Payne". The game's lead designer was Petri Järvilehto. He wanted bullet time and slow motion, a hallmark of Hong Kong action films, to be the core mechanic for their game. They decided to position it as a resource for players to use. With an expertise in computing because of their demoscene background, the team crafted their own game engine for the game. Sam Lake was appointed as the game's writer. He introduced elements commonly found in crime fiction and film noir into the game. The team wanted to use real-life photos for the game's texture, though this was initially met with heavy resistance by the artists. In 1999, the designers travelled from Finland to New York to research the city and get ideas for environments. Accompanied by two former New York Police Department bodyguards, they took thousands of photographs for mapping. The company spent most of its time in 2000 further refining the game's graphics. Having delayed its release twice, Max Payne received critical acclaim when it was released in July 2001. It was noted for its heavy focus on story and atmosphere as an action game, which was traditionally more gameplay oriented. The game was a commercial success, selling more than seven million copies.
Apogee outsourced the development of Max Payne's console versions to Rockstar Games, whose parent company Take-Two Interactive spent $10 million to purchase the intellectual property rights to the franchise; Rockstar still holds the rights to Max Payne as of 2021. As part of the acquisition agreement, Remedy would return to develop a sequel for the game. Take-Two gave Remedy plenty of creative freedom. The development cycle for the sequel game was much shorter than the original. The team made use of most of the existing gameplay mechanics and expanded them. Lake returned to write the game's script. He went to the Theatre Academy of Finland to study screenwriting to be able to write a more "ambitious" story. Lake's script had more than 600 pages, five times that of the original. Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne received critical acclaim when it was released in October 2003, 27 months after Max Payne's release. However, it sold poorly. Take-Two cited the game's "continued disappointing sales" as one of the reasons for the company's forecast of a drop in sales revenue for 2004. Remedy was no longer involved with the franchise after Max Payne 2, but Rockstar consulted them when Max Payne 3 reached its final stage of production.
Partnership with Microsoft (2006–2016)
After working for seven years on the Max Payne series, the team wanted to develop something new. They began prototyping and experimenting with different gameplay mechanics with the intention of making a sandbox game. However, due to limited resources, the team found that developing an open world was not feasible and decided to refocus the game as a linear experience. The company was inspired by Stephen King's novels, Twin Peaks, ghost towns in the American Northwest, and tornado patterns, and they invited a landscape architect to serve as the game's consultant. The team organised a field trip to the Northwest and Crater Lake and took more than 40,000 photographs for use creating the game's environment. The game was in pre-production for more than three years, while full development only lasted for approximately two years. During this period, the studio increased the number of employees from 30 to 45. Some media outlets suspected the game had become vapourware as it disappeared from the public spotlight for a considerable time after its announcement. Microsoft Game Studios acted as the game's publisher after securing an exclusivity deal with Remedy. The title, Alan Wake was released for Microsoft's Xbox 360 to generally positive reviews in May 2010. Remedy pushed for a PC version after the game's launch, and Microsoft greenlit its production in mid-2011. The PC version, developed with Nitro Games, was released in February 2012. The game sold more than 3.2 million copies, but Remedy explained in 2013 that it was not financially successful enough for them to raise the funds needed to continue developing a sequel. Unlike Max Payne, Alan Wake's narrative was written to accommodate the release of multiple sequels. The company began developing different prototypes for Alan Wake 2. Some of its elements were reintegrated into Alan Wake's American Nightmare, a 2012 standalone Xbox Live Arcade game which had a much shorter development cycle. Collectively, both games sold more than 4.5 million copies as of March 2015.
The company showed the prototype it had developed for Alan Wake 2 to different publishers. Microsoft was not interested in pursuing a sequel to Alan Wake, but they were keen on working with Remedy again on an original intellectual property. The company had experimented with transmedia storytelling in Alan Wake, and Microsoft hoped Remedy would further expand the live-action component in their next project, Quantum Break. Pre-production of the game began in 2011; approximately 100 people worked on it. The idea of quantum physics originated with Alan Wake's TV show called Quantum Suicide. The team thought time travel was the best way to accommodate the storytelling structure. Described as a "transmedia action-shooter video game and television hybrid", Lake directed the game, while Lifeboat Productions produced the TV component, with Ben Ketai as director. The company built a new game engine for the game known as Northlight. Quantum Break received generally positive reviews from critics when it was released in 2016. Microsoft declared it the best-selling original property released by the firm since the release of the Xbox One. As of 2021, the rights to Quantum Break remain with Microsoft.
During this period, Remedy began experimenting with mobile games. The studio began developing a remake of Death Rally for iOS and Android. The game took eight months to develop, and it was a collaborative effort between Remedy, Mountain Sheep and Cornfox & Brothers. Remedy spent only $10,000 marketing the game, but it proved to be a commercial success for them. More than 11 million players downloaded the game and the development team recouped their budget in three days. Seeing the success of Death Rally, Lake claimed it was only the company's "first step" into the mobile gaming space and they were looking at creating more titles for mobile platforms. In 2013, Remedy expanded its board of directors, adding Mike Capps, former president of Epic Games, and Christian Fredriksson, chief executive of security firm F-Secure to the board. In late 2013, the company announced their next mobile game, Agents of Storm, a tower defence game for iOS. They collaborated with German publisher Flaregames on the project, which was released in late 2014.
Diversifying portfolio (2016–present)
Remedy underwent several management changes from 2015 to 2016. Chief executive officer (CEO) Matias Myllyrinne left Remedy to join Wargaming, with former CEO of RedLynx, Tero Virtala, replacing him and the interim CEO Markus Mäki. Virtala's appointment was made to help Remedy transition into a multi-project studio, so that each game would have a shorter development cycle. In 2017, Remedy launched an initial public offering to raise funds to develop projects concurrently, and became a public company listed on the NASDAQ First North Finland exchange. The company announced they were working on the single-player component of Smilegate's free-to-play first-person shooter CrossFire 2 (later renamed as CrossfireX). Its predecessor, CrossFire, was one of the highest-grossing video games of all time by 2016. Remedy is also working on a new version of the original CrossFire, called CrossFire HD. After the announcement, Remedy began teasing its next project, codenamed P7. 505 Games provided support in marketing and publishing in addition to a fund of €7.75 million to assist in the game's development. The game, titled Control, was released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on 27 August 2019, and was the first game developed by Remedy for a Sony platform since Max Payne 2. Control sold over two million units by March 2021 and won several gaming awards, and has since had ports to the Nintendo Switch (via cloud streaming).
An unnamed third project has also been in development in tandem with CrossFire 2 and Control. A small 15-person team dedicated to creating multiplayer and live titles known as "Vanguard", was established in 2018.
A television show based on Alan Wake was announced in September 2018 with Lake attached as its executive producer. Remedy fully acquired the publishing rights to Alan Wake in July 2019 from Microsoft, including a one-time €2.5 million royalty payment from the series' performance.
Remedy and Epic Games announced in March 2020 that they had established a two-game publishing deal with plans for release in the next few years, both within the same franchise. One is a larger, AAA-style game that was already in pre-production, while the second was a smaller-scale project yet to be started. Under the terms of the deal, Remedy will retain full creative control of the development process and intellectual property, while Epic will fully back development costs; following release, once Epic has recouped its backing Epic and Remedy will split profits 50/50. The larger game is part of Remedy's "shared universe" between Alan Wake and Control, which Lake said they have had the idea of developing for ten years.
|1996||Death Rally||MS-DOS, Microsoft Windows||Apogee Software, Remedy Entertainment|
|2001||Max Payne||Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, Xbox, Game Boy Advance, Android, iOS||Gathering of Developers, Rockstar Games|
|2003||Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne||Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, Xbox||Rockstar Games|
|2010||Alan Wake||Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows||Microsoft Game Studios, Remedy Entertainment|
|2011||Death Rally||Microsoft Windows, Android, iOS, Fire OS||Remedy Entertainment|
|2012||Alan Wake's American Nightmare||Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360||Microsoft Studios, Remedy Entertainment|
|2014||Agents of Storm||iOS||Remedy Entertainment|
|2016||Quantum Break||Microsoft Windows, Xbox One||Microsoft Studios|
|2019||Control||Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S||505 Games|
|2021||CrossfireX||Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S||Xbox Game Studios|
The team used a basement in the Westend district of Espoo, Finland, as a workspace for the production of their first games. According to Lake, there were mattresses strewn across the basement floor because team members sometimes slept there. Before 2018, Remedy was using a four-story office in Espoo which offered various facilities including a café, a sauna, a bar and a gym. It also had a "development warehouse", which housed many items once used by the studio such as photos and graphic novels (for Max Payne) and clothes (for Alan Wake), as well as old computers, design documents, demo video tapes, and early scripts. As the studio underwent significant expansion, it relocated to a newer and bigger office, also in Espoo, in May 2018. The new office allows Remedy to accommodate a motion capture studio floor that is four times larger than the original.
As of December 2019, Remedy has more than 250 employees across 30 different countries.
Culture and philosophy
The studio has specialised in making cinematic single-player action games. According to managing director Matias Myllyrinne, the studio's games always have a strong lead character (as evidenced by Max Payne and Alan Wake), and their games must be "approachable" and relatable and appeal to the largest possible audience. The team hoped players would be immersed fully in the world they created. He added that themes like "World War II, dragons, hardcore sci-fi, or women with tight leather outfits" are something the studio would avoid. The team also aimed for "movie realism", where real-world believability was important. However, the team usually took inspiration from movies, TV shows and books rather than video games as they wanted to create something unique for the video game industry. When they were developing games, they always began by creating the story, which informed and guided other aspects of development such as gameplay. Most of the company's games are linear, but Remedy began exploring ideas like multiplayer gaming and open-ended gameplay around 2015. The studio typically used their own in-house technology to power their game, and invested a lot in motion capture. It partnered with Nvidia to streamline the motion capture process.
Starting from 2016, the company began to transform itself into a multi-project studio, with each title having a shorter development cycle. This enabled the team to become more financially secure and allowed team members to choose which projects they wanted to work on. The team also began taking on work-for-hire projects; Remedy developed the single-player portion of CrossFire X. This is part of a strategy adopted by Remedy to expand into new genres and boost its popularity in different parts of the world. Although the company plans to release games more frequently, Virtala insisted that game quality would not be compromised and that a Remedy game launch would still be "rare".
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