White Wolf on Bringing the World of Darkness Back to Video Games

Their ill-fated MMORPG World of Darkness, their cult classic Vampire: The Masquerade titles, the upcoming Werewolf: The Apocalypse RPG, their acquisition by Paradox Interactive, and why their fanbase is ready for more World of Darkness-based gaming are the subjects of a new article-style interview with White Wolf CEO Tobias Sjögren and lead storyteller Martin Ericsson on OnlySP. There's quite a bit to take in, and I'll start you off with a fistful of paragraphs:
Recognising the “golden opportunity” offered by the inactivity of the IP, Paradox Interactive “simply knocked on CCP’s door and asked to buy all of the White Wolf rights… eventually got a deal together and announced [the] purchase in October 2015.” Despite being so closely linked, Paradox and White Wolf share what Sjögren describes as “‘a sister-company relationship,’” giving both autonomy. This set-up ensures that White Wolf is “free to act in the best interests of the World of Darkness,” which includes partnering with external developers and publishers, including Cyanide.

Perhaps best known for the Styx series of stealth games, Cyanide has a reputation for great ideas but flawed execution, leading some to question its suitability for such a high-profile project, however, Sjögren waves away any such concerns.“I think, at this time in the industry, it’s all about what your next game is and to identify the teams and publishers with the passion and drive to make that next great product. Looking at [Cyanide’s] experience with mixing heavy visual action with the RPG genre and the learnings they have made along the way is one thing that convinced us. But most importantly their awesome passion for Werewolf and its environmental themes… What we’ve seen from the game so far blows our mind and we feel absolutely certain that they will do a product not only represents Werewolf but is also a great visceral games experience.”

Sjögren’s confidence in the team stems not only from the work he has already seen on Werewolf, but also a philosophy built up over his 21 years in the gaming industry. “From my personal experience, I can say giving a dev with a less than perfect record a chance is sometimes a great idea. If the team I worked on in the past had been judged on the ratings and sales of their game Codename Eagle, the game Battlefield 1942 and its sequels would never gotten made and the world would be a less fun place. The very wise Tom Frisina was the one at EA who signed DICE at that time. He told me that ‘you are never better than your next game’ and that is something that stuck with me. What you need is a talented team with a vision and passion and absolutely magic products can be produced, and that is very much our feeling about all the partners we work with today.”

While Sjögren could not be persuaded to list any further collaborations with publishers, he did subtly hint that others are currently in the works as he outlined White Wolf’s plans for a vast transmedia universe. “We believe that a living fiction universe is best constructed from many different products interacting with each other. This is what we have been working toward for the last 1.5 years and it’s our continuing vision. Products like the Storytellersvault.com, www.worldofdarkness.com, the 5th edition of the tabletop RPG Vampire the Masquerade, the award-winning live action event ‘End of the Line,’ and the first announced video game based on Werewolf are just the tip of an iceberg of interconnected products coming in the next years.”

Although similarly refusing to comment on the other WoD games in production, Ericsson was more explicit in hinting at their existence. “World of Darkness is just what the world of games needs right now. A setting that boldly tackles difficult political and social issues, set in our own world, as seen through the eyes of dark reflections of ourselves. It features incredibly well thought-out interpretations of the creatures of gothic literature and global folklore and their hidden societies. No other brand in gaming comes close to its balance between mature storytelling and stomach-dropping personal horror.”