I want to start this article by stating that this is a speculation piece, but one backed up by some pretty interesting observations. It's no secret that I'm a HUGE fan of The Division. It's such a good game and one I have spent over a hundred hours in. Last year some developers behind the title, along with some from The Hitman series, made the decision to form their own studio entitled Sharkmob. They set up shop in Sweden and closed themselves off to the world for several months. Now that they have laid the foundation, they have let slip a few details about their first upcoming title. It'll apparently be based on 'Cult IP'. What are they up to?
We are currently working on an unannounced project, backed by an undisclosed publisher. This means we can't say or show much about what we are working on right now. What we can say however is that we are using the Unreal engine, we are looking at a multi-platform project and it will be action-packed and likely rated M. Sharkmob was founded in 2017 by a group of industry veterans. Since then a number of awesome people have joined the team, which is now starting to outgrow the current office. That definitely sounds intriguing, especially if they already have the backing of a publisher who will be financially supporting the project and the fledgling studio. Oh, I hear you! Jimmy, get to the point. What evidence do you have to suggest that they are working on a Bladerunner game?
The idea struck me when I saw the news that they were working on a title based off of 'Cult IP'. Playing The Division I couldn't help thinking that the open city would be a perfect way to experience a Bladerunner themed game. I loved Bladerunner 2049 and want any excuse to hop back in but that isn't the reason behind this theory. Throw the open world and character progression into a mixing pot (from The Division) with the hunting and eliminating a target mechanic from Hitman and you've got the beginning of a cop narrative where you hunt replicants through a near future metropolis. Wallace Industries could be the main big bad as at the end of 2049 Niander Wallace is still at large.
Is this wishful thinking? Here's something else to tickle your brain. The rights to Bladerunner is owned by Warner Brothers. You might have heard of their gaming division, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (WB Games). They're responsible for such games as Middle-Earth: Shadow of War and Injustice 2. Bladerunner 2049 was released in distribution partnership by Warner Brothers (in the US) and Sony Pictures (internationally), the latter being a division of Sony Entertainment (who aren't specifically tasked with publishing video games but they're only a hop, skip and a jump to Sony Interactive Entertainment). Last year Sony renewed its commitment to supporting and publishing titles from smaller studios with its Indie label Unties, which has a focus of pushing titles to the Japanese, PC and portable (Nintendo Switch) markets. So maybe this theory became a little less pie in the sky, huh?
Sharkmob CEO, Fredrick Rundqvist, said in an interview with Venture Beat that the IP could be considered a "cult classic". Sure that could apply to Bladerunner...as well as twenty other films from that time period. As well as wanting to mould the title into a franchise with regular updates and live services (very The Division sounding) he also went on to say "Of course, in our opinion, the pure mechanics of that are not interesting if you don’t have the right IP, the right setting, the right fantasy to get people really excited about the game mechanics we provide. I guess that also gives you a hint as to what kind of game we’re making.”
This is all conspiracy backed up by loose facts right now. Picture me in my mother's basement, tracing red thread across interlinking photos and you'll not be far wrong. If you look at this article's feature image you'll see the first glimpse of something from Sharkmob's site that is assumed to be from their new game. That could easily be a cyberpunk alleyway. I'm not crazy, right? What do you think? What kind of game would you like to see Sharkmob tackle? Comment below or tweet us @ghoulishent.