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February 21, 2024
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Archetype’s Exodus being built as Wizards of the Coast’s next big franchise

Archetype’s Exodus being built as Wizards of the Coast’s next big franchise

At last night’s Game Awards, Archetype Entertainment revealed its debut project Exodus. The studio was established in 2019 as a Wizards of the Coast subsidiary, and according to co-founders James Ohlen and Chad Robertson, the TTRPG publisher wanted them to give it a chance to step into the science-fiction genre. 

Talking to IGN, Ohlen noted how WOTC has fantasy locked down in Dungeons & Dragons and Magic the Gathering. But it lacks a successful sci-fi property, giving Archetype an opportunity to “be that [successful IP], and then lead all kinds of things.” 

With Mass Effect being built back up and Halo currently in the wind, there’s a niche for new sci-fi properties to step into the triple-A world. Both men view Exodus as the launching point for a larger franchise they have a hand in creating, which Ohlen openly argued for when initially speaking to WOTC.

“There are some amazing IPs out there right now in the RPG space,” Robertson told Polygon. “10 years from now, we’d love fans to look back and think fondly of what we’re building. We’d love to be a titan within that.”

To that end, Exodus is a single-player RPG, but Ohlen also indicated that should things go their way, Archetype hopes to branch out into other genres. “We are just a single-player game for this first iteration. […] We know multiplayer, but we’re keeping our focus on a game about time dilation and big choices.”

“We’ve always viewed [this] as a franchise,” added Robertson. “I think like James talked about, there’s opportunities there for us to do a lot more after this first iteration.”

Archetype is scaling its ambitions without overdoing it

Wizards has set up several game studios in recent years, with some being candid that they were working on D&D projects. Archetype breaking away from its parent company’s two biggest properties opens up interesting possibilities for those other studios, either right away or down the line. 

Even with the recent genre-defining hit of Baldur’s Gate 3 now lingering over the genre, Archetype’s co-founders want Exodus to stand on its own rather than as a statement against its contemporaries. Neither want to go up against that game [or Bethesda’s Starfield] “in ways that we’ll just lose,” stated Ohlen. 

“We want to make sure that we’re competing in a way where our strengths are being shown. If Exodus is super successful, which we want it to be…So there’s going to be a chance to do all sorts of things.”

Both of Ohlen and Robertson’s interviews with IGN and Polygon also dig into Archetype’s relationship with Larian Studios and what the two developers learned from their tenure at BioWare.

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