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Paradox Interactive has acquired the rights to developer Introversion Software's enormously successful prison management sim, Prison Architect.
As part of the deal's official announcement, Paradox CEO Ebba Ljungerud called Prison Architect "a natural fit" for the company's catalogue, which features a host of strategy and management games, including the likes of Cities: Skylines, Stellaris, Surviving Mars, BattleTech, and Crusader Kings.
"I believe the considerable player base of Prison Architect will be excited to see where we can take the game next," said Ljungerud, "We promise to exercise good behaviour with this cherished title going forward."
Prolific strategy publisher Paradox Interactive has purchased all the rights and assets for the Prison Architect IP from Introversion Software. Beyond giving Paradox ownership over a three-year-old game—which it also already publishes on iOS and Android—it lets the publisher turn it into a series under the 'Architect' umbrella.
One notable difference between Prison Architect and the rest of Paradox’s contemporary catalogue is the absence of DLC. Paradox Development Studio’s games typically receive the most, with Crusader Kings 2 boasting 15 expansions and more DLC beyond that. Cities: Skylines has more in common with Prison Architect and launched around the same time, and it has seven expansions and various smaller content packs.
While lots of post-launch extras are par for the course with Paradox, the fact that Prison Architect has already been out since 2015 and has been updated several times since then means it might be left alone, with Paradox instead looking to develop new Architect games straight away. Though judging by CEO Ebba Ljungerud’s statement, it might be a bit of both.
“Just as we’ve done for other management-strategy games like Cities: Skylines and Surviving Mars, I believe the considerable playerbase of Prison Architect will be excited to see where we can take the game next, and we’re eager to explore development of potential new games based off of the ‘Architect’ IP. We promise to exercise good behaviour with this cherished title going forward.”
Paradox hasn’t announced any developers yet, or if future games will be developed in-house. My pitch: Dynasty Architect—basically Crusader Kings 2 but you also have to manage a castle. Dig a moat, plan feasts, assassinate your spouse. Paradox’s dynastic sim is probably coming to an end soon, so let’s get the CK2 team on this straight away.
As for Introversion, co-founder Mark Morris promised more details on their upcoming projects soon. Last time we checked in, it was early days for possible colony sim Order of Magnitude, and we’ve seen nothing since. Indeed, it’s still not even on Introversion’s official site.
Paradox Interactive have bought Prison Architect off creators Introversion Software, nabbing the rights and assets while muttering about potentially making new ‘Architect’ games of their own. Introversion say that after over eight years of development, “we’ve taken Prison Architect just about as far as we can” and they’re doing something new. If Paradox, the publishers behind strategy games and build ’em ups from Crusader Kings II to Cities: Skylines, want to give ’em moolah in exchange for something they’re about done with, hey, bonus.
Prison Architect has a little present for everyone before Introversion Software go into holiday lockdown. First debuted in September as a special opt-in build, the carceral management sim’s online multiplayer mode is now polished enough to be included in the game proper. Online mode is still considered ‘alpha’ and has some limitations, but they’ve otherwise got the core of the tiny-person punishment game working online. Probably best not to run an entirely public server – this one’s best with friends, for obvious reasons. Check out the developer announcement video below.
Prison Architect ranked 68th in this year's PC Gamer Top 100. I reckon it might climb higher still in 2019, because, three years after full release, it's launched a multiplayer mode.
Currently in alpha, the jail sim's multiplayer mode comes with its Update 16 and lets players build prisons alongside seven mates. In public or private games, the alpha offers a restricted version of the base game in order to let the devs "focus on getting the core functionality working."
As such, some features are absent for now—such as wire connections, prison grading, reports and emergency callouts (these can be controlled but not called in), among other things. Producer Mark Morris and designer Chris Delay provide the following, typically funny, overview of what's in right now, and what's planned down the line.
"Our programmers have achieved the impossible, and grafted co-operative multiplayer into Prison Architect," reads the video's description. "Disclaimer: This is a very experimental alpha launch of multiplayer. You need to opt in to the steam 'beta' branch to gain access."
The developer says non-Steam players will be able to download the latest version of Prison Architect from the builds page in the next few days. Here's our review of the game Chris described as a "complex, challenging, and grimly satisfying simulator."
Out of the blue, Prison Architect has added cooperative multiplayer.
It's far from finished and requires opting into alpha/beta updates on Steam if you want to try it, but once enabled you can happily go about building a top-notch prison with your friends (up to seven).
There's plenty that doesn't work in multiplayer because the game was never meant to have it, but Introversion has plenty of ideas about how to flesh it out and improve it so long as you want it. If everyone who tries it hates it then Introversion probably won't bother.
As grim as its subject matter may be, Introversion’s carceral management sim Prison Architect has carved out an oddly social niche as a game to play while streaming and chatting with friends. Today, those building brutalist monuments to man’s inhumanity to man can finally share the experience with chums, thanks to a public alpha test for multiplayer.
Expect bugs and a few features locked away, but if you feel like sharing the warden’s hat with your pals, check out the patch notes here with info on how to join the alpha testers. You can also watch Introversion (awkwardly) demoing the new mode in the update video below.