The Embracer Group’s CEO admits there are “fans not happy” with the Saints Row reboot, but still too early to discuss its performance.
Speaking at the Embracer Group Annual General Meeting 2022, CEO Lars Wingefors discussed the Saints Row reboot in the Q&A segment. Amid discussing what he was most happy about in the past year, Wingefors admitted there were “challenges,” such as spending time on “new political and social issues,” and his day was “full.”
Yet, he was optimistic about the gaming industry, despite a downturn with the end of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown orders, and economic upheaval. Wingefors was then asked about Saints Row, as the Embracer Group is the parent company of publisher Deep Silver.
He was asked for an update on his prior comments about his confidence in the game’s financial success. “I think I stated before the release that we were confident in the financial profile of the investment,” Wingefors corrected.
“Obviously, personally I had… hoped for a greater reception of the game,” Wingefors tentatively answered. “It’s been a very polarized view, there is a lot of things that could be said in details around it, but on one hand, I’m happy to see a lot of gamers and fans happy. At the same time, I’m a bit sad to see also fans not happy, so it’s difficult.”
Wingefors’ could be considered hesitant and taking great care in how he spoke, choosing his words carefully. “I think we need to wait for the quarterly report in November to have more details around this. We’re still fairly early in our release window, and still collecting data, and there’s a lot of bug fixing, and there is more content coming.”
“On the financial side, I know, or I’m confident we will make money. On the investment,” Wingefors insisted. “Will it have as great return of investment that we have seen in many other games? Not very likely. But we will make money, and that’s a very good starting point, at least.”
Wingefors was then asked that, due to the response Saints Row had gotten, if it had changed the long-term view of the franchise in any way. “You know, obviously, you always want every installment of any IP to be greater than the last one,” Wingefors answered
After briefly muddling his words, Wingefors explained “This is quite a process, to evaluate your position, the outcome, and there is hundreds of people engaged in this game within the group. So, I still have great trust in those people and I’m sure they will… recommend things for the future.”
The Saints Row reboot put its worst foot forward, as developers Volition stated they wouldn’t be continuing the crude and politically incorrect tone of prior games as “that tone is not something that we feel like we want to do today.” Fans spotted in-game brands with double entendres were renamed, and the character creator had no gender and smaller breasts.
Combined with unlikable hipster protagonists, the game’s official Twitter account mocking fans as “haters,” and Volition themselves dismissing criticisms as fans only wanting characters back, no changes were made.
The game released to poor reviews from professional and independent critics. Its lack of identity was exacerbated by outdated gameplay, and plenty of bugs. Being The Embracer Group’s first major AAA release after many big acquisitions across 2022, they saw shares falling by 7% after reviews launched. Physical sales dropped 80% in the UK just one week after launch.
It seems the Embracer Group hadn’t learned it’s lesson, however. The developers of Dead Island 2 – published by Deep Silver – revealed the game was created hand-in-hand with their “diversity council” to avoid “hurtful stereotypes.”