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Starbreeze CEO doesn't think Syndicate 'could've ever lived up to some people's expectations'


CEO and President of Starbreeze Studios Mikael Nermark appears to have mixed feelings about Syndicate, the FPS reboot his team launched earlier this year. Syndicate snagged the No. 2 spot during its launch week with sales of 34,000, just 2,000 shy of Asura's Wrath. Even after such a squeeze, Nermark tells Joystiq he isn't disappointed in Syndicate, numerically or otherwise:

"Sales? What can I say?" Nermark says, inadvertently answering his own rhetorical question. "So many things depend on whether sales are good or not good. And it can always be better, right? You always want it to be better."

Being "not disappointed" isn't the same as being overwhelmingly, truly happy with a title, nor is it the same as being devastated – it seems Nermark is still working out how exactly he feels about Syndicate, but he's made up his mind about Starbreeze itself.

"Personally, I've never been satisfied with any games I've worked on. I never play my own games," Nermark says. "I was brought into Starbreeze two and a half years ago, and the first year I worked on other things than on production. But what I saw coming out of this long production time, I'm proud of what we did at Starbreeze."

Nermark compares Syndicate to "those really high production value, high budget productions" that have an easier time getting higher scores or critical acclaim. Those AAA (and AAAA, apparently) titles may hit larger review numbers, but Nermark said Syndicate was more innovative and brought a new element into the genre, for good or ill: "truly cooperative play."

"The co-op part is fantastic to me I think it's a lot of fun to play," Nermark says. "I think it may be too hard. I'm one of those guys that wants it harder, harder, harder, right? So I think we made it maybe too hard, and we didn't really ... we should've thought about the player more. It's a game made for you to play with your friends, who you really know, 'cause it's truly a cooperative play, rather than just jump in and play alongside each other."

For all the changes Starbreeze made to the original Syndicate's strategic roots, Nermark says he never lost sight of its fanbase and the diehard Syndicate fans. "Syndicate comes with a lot of expectations. Such a great brand, such a great franchise. I don't think we could've ever lived up to some people's expectations."

Even, possibly, Nermark's.

"I love the original! When I got into the industry way back, RTS and that kind of game were my kind of game," Nermark says. "But you always wanna add your touch to it, you wanna make it your game even though it's built on a great franchise. So I think that's hard. Overall, we're happy."

Update: To clarify, Starbreeze CEO and president Mikael Nermark told us, "During production I play all our games every night, not as much as our QA guys of course. But once it's released, I only finish it once."

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