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Pulpy XCOM-a-like Lamplighters League written off as a “big disappointment” and $22m loss by publisher just a week after release

Lights out

A character blasts a flaming zombie with a rifle in The Lamplighters League.
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Paradox Interactive

XCOM-y pulp strategy adventure The Lamplighters League has been written off as a ‘disappointing’ flop costing publishers Paradox almost $23 million, a mere week after the game’s launch.

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The Lamplighters League applies the turn-based strategy of XCOM and its ilk to a setting somewhere between Hellboy and Lovecraftian series Arkham Horror, as the player’s ragtag crew of secret agents take on multiple evil factions wreaking havoc across the world during the 1930s. There’s also a dash of Mutant Year Zero in the way that characters can explore and sneak around levels in real-time before swapping to familiar turn-based battles.

After meeting with mixed reviews - our own Sin found it to have “a strong turn-based foundation and colourful setting” but was “left with mounting disappointment and frustration at a design that lets down a very likeable game” due to its repetitive grind, randomness and unforgiving need for efficiency - it seems that more The Lamplighters League’s charming aspects have struggled to win over players. The game has just 139 reviews on Steam at the time of writing, despite the majority of those being positive - not exactly screaming runaway sales success.

It seems that publishers Paradox Interactive agree, writing off The Lamplighters League’s capitalised development costs at Harebrained Studios as a $22.7 million loss just seven days after its release across Steam, Epic and consoles on October 3rd. “The write-down stems from a revised sales forecast, which was established after the game’s release,” Paradox’s reasoning explains.

Three characters creep around some bushes at night in The Lamplighters League
Image credit: Paradox Interactive

Paradox CEO Fredrik Wester went one step further in calling Lamplighters League “a big disappointment”, while acknowledging that no game is guaranteed to become a smash-hit.

“The Lamplighters League is a fun game with many strengths,” Wester said. “Even though we see cautiously positive player numbers in subscription services, the commercial reception has been too weak, which is frankly a big disappointment.

“Game projects are by their nature always risky, but at the end of the day we haven’t performed at the level we should. It is painful but makes us more eager to roll up our sleeves and do better.”

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