[PODCAST] Paradox’s Creative Director on Getting Rich, Making Bad Games, and More

Ever since it came out, I’ve wondered whether Paradox Interactive’s Imperator was really a failure. The Rome-themed strategy game earned a lot of positive reviews, and I personally thought it was a fine game with some major drawbacks. Yet the game quickly faced a massive backlash from players, especially from among Paradox’s most loyal and experienced customers. Despite all that, and the mea culpa stance Paradox adopted in the face of the criticism, the company claimed the game sold well, and I’d heard similar things informally when I ran into Paradox folks at other events. Who could really call Imperator a bad game, when it achieved just about everything a new game is supposed to?

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/qvgmxw/paradoxs-creative-director-on-getting-rich-making-bad-games-and-more
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This was a really great interview. I appreciate Rob’s comment at the end about using “oh, yeah, we were paying freelancers months late” as sort of an amusing anecdote, as well.


I listened to this and enjoyed parts of it but the mixture of his thick accent and the loud background noise made it really difficult to understand. I would really appreciate a transcript although I realise how much extra work that takes.

As somebody who has spent at least $200 on CK2, EU4, and more recently Imperator: Rome, I do have a more cynical take on why Johan and Paradox might have been discontent with Imperator’s launch despite good sales and reviews. Games like these make money with DLC released yearly-ish. They need the audience to be playing the game to sell the DLC next year and the year after that. That’s why it’s a problem that people (like myself) bought and the stopped playing Imperator, at least on the business level. I’ll be back, though, once the next free update comes out, because I did spend some money, and I’m going to keep giving them chances. I know Paradox can make good games.

Also, yeah, the people talking and band practicing(?) in the background makes this audio pretty messy.

I like this format of having inserts of Rob musing about the interview. It helps give broader context to Johan’s answers. I’m not familiar with Paradox games so hearing more about how Imperator: Rome did and the conversations around it is helpful to understand where everyone is coming from.
While the background noise can make parts of the interview difficult to parse I imagine there were certain limitations that lead to this recording location being the best place for the interview. I probably would have lost it if I were doing an interview in what I thought a serviceable location and someone started playing music nearby.

At least I can get enjoyment out of imagining this interview taking place in a hazy jazz bar maybe during some kind of casual rehearsal where people have the time to chat. I don’t know. Noir or something.


It’s very Radiolab, which I’m not used to hearing from either Waypoint or 3MA, but it worked very well here.