Interview Sifu: “China is our second territory whether in terms of units or income. »

Sloclap loves China and China loves it. As announced on March 17, Sifu has exceeded 2 million copies sold worldwide. Note that we are talking about consumer sales, not a figure inflated by a subscription like PlayStation Plus or free downloads from the Epic Games Store. When the game was launched, Sloclap had underlined the importance of the Chinese market in this success, even though the game had not yet been localized in Mandarin and Cantonese. One year later, ” China is our second territory whether in terms of units or income confirms Pierre Tarno. This is all the more remarkable since, normally, the most reputable platform when it comes to capturing the attention of Chinese gamers is called Steam.

Sifu, he took the perilous path of temporary Epic Games Store exclusivity, which admittedly earned him financial compensation, but at the risk of being singled out by the many PC gamers who reject the idea that their catalog does not not meet in the same place (at Valve, in this case). In the meantime, Epic Games has published its biggest receipts of the year 2022 and we can see there Sifu between 5th and 10th place, at the same level as a Fall Guys or a Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade.

Yes, we even far exceeded our expectations and our objectives on the Epic Games Store confirms Pierre Tarno when asked if the partnership with this store has really paid off. But Sifu was also put forward by Sony Interactive Entertainment which for its part had obtained a temporary exclusivity for its machines. ” We sold a little more on PlayStation than on the Epic Games Store, but it’s close », entrusts our interlocutor when one tries to extort some trade secrets from him.

In addition to its commercial success, Sifu also brilliantly represented French production last year alongside games such as Stray, Tinykin and A Plague Tale: Requiem, notably winning the prize for best game design at the Pégases 2023. His risky nomination for the Game Awards in the fighting game category on the other hand revolted the community which considers that a “fighting game” must at least offer a versus mode to belong to this category. The reasoning holds. But what would happen if we had endowed Sifu of a versus mode? ” No, it was never seriously considered. Making a single-player game is still very different from making a multiplayer game and we really wanted to focus on making the best single-player experience possible, which was already difficult enough as it was. »

Concentrate on a solo game, after a Absolver with somewhat crazy online ambitions for a small studio that had just launched, it was a directive that Sloclap had already set itself in September 2018, when Pierre Tarno answered questions from Gautoz and Pipomantis on the show In Dev With . Yes, set aside the infrastructure and online features ofAbsolver relieved the team of a weight, but it did not make Sifu a game easier to create for all that, objects Pierre Tarno. ” There are other challenges that have arisen, particularly in the area of ​​design or technique. I am thinking of the management of the AIs which have much more advanced systems in Sifu than in Absolver. There are also, for example, storytelling and narrative design issues that we hadn’t touched on very much with Absolver and that we had to deal with on Sifu. »

With Sifu, Sloclap was also confronted with another even more delicate problem. WhileAbsolver took place in a fictional world and did not summon any culture in particular, the cinematographic and referenced Sifu has not escaped accusations of cultural appropriation, with some assuming the mistaken assumption that the game was made without the help of any Chinese consultant. ” We have made many efforts to make this game as respectful as possible of the culture from which it is inspired, therefore Chinese culture and Kung-fu culture in particular. We worked with a Chinese composer based in Beijing. Thanks to Kowloon Nights, we also have many partners based in Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai who allowed us to do very advanced cultural reviews following which we changed a lot of things in the game, whether it’s the look of the main character , details in environments or text corrections. There has been a lot of work done at this level. “, sums up the producer.

Besides, Sifu having sold particularly well in China, it was not the returns from the Middle Kingdom that were lacking. ” And overall the reaction from the Chinese players and the Chinese media was very, very positive, which made the team very happy, because these are subjects on which we are vigilant and sensitive. So seeing reviews from Chinese media saying that the game is very authentic and respectful, it made the team happy because that was really our goal throughout development. »

Ruthless when it comes out, Sifu became a little more accessible to ordinary mortals with the addition of the Pupil difficulty mode. A week after the game’s release, PlayStation trophy statistics showed that only 34% of PlayStation players passed the second tier and its fearsome batting boss, while 6% could claim to have seen the final credits. A year later, statistics show that players have mastered the mysteries of Pak Mei a little better: 47% of PlayStation players have broken through the wall of the second level and 23% have defeated the painful final boss of Sifu. Let it be said, Sloclap does not seem unhappy with this data, so in the absence of a new boost, you still have training and resilience. ” Yes, I think having a quarter of the players who finished the game is a pretty good number. »

The good news is that this week’s release of the Arenas expansion gives more than ever a good reason to relaunch the game to practice on the 45 challenges and the 5 game modes of this free update. Should we consider it as the final bouquet of a now complete roadmap? ” No, we still have at least one last update that will be released in a few months with additional arenas and challenges “recalls Pierre Tarno. What’s more, this dedication to the community of Sifu does not prevent Sloclap from moving forward in the greatest secrecy on its future projects. Yes, plural.

The Parisian studio, which had around sixty employees a year ago, now claims a workforce of approximately 80 people and will continue to grow. In fact, Sloclap already operates two production lines: the team in charge of the updates of Sifu and the one working on Sloclap’s next game, which is currently in pre-production and appears to be a new license, judging by this job posting. What can be revealed is that after having creatively retreated for years Sifu, Pierre Tarno will be back at the controls of the next Sloclap. ” Yes absolutely, I’m actually the one running Sloclap’s Project 3, so after concentrating on the executive production of Sifu and the development of the box, I’m going back to a position that is actually more related to the content. »

The interested party will not reveal anything about the nature of this Project 3, but confirms that the start of construction of a Project 4 is already in progress, and the latter will undoubtedly be launched once the chapter Sifu closed. Contrary to what one might think, the fact of having greatly exceeded commercial objectives with Sifu and its 2 million sales did not particularly enhance the studio’s ambitions with its next games. ” I would say that it mainly allowed us to continue with the objectives we had set ourselves and therefore in particular the fact of soon having two production lines. This is even already the case since we have a Project 3 which is in the pre-production phase while we continue to work on Sifu. But we will soon embark on a Project 4. »

Founded by martial arts fanatics, Sloclap is therefore a studio that knows where it is going and where it is stepping (often in the face, yes). However, there is nothing to say that his next games will always revolve around martial rigor. ” I think there are other things to do in the martial arts register, but we don’t at all refrain from changing the theme for our next games. », Comments Pierre Tarno, remaining just as evasive as necessary. Similarly, it might be tempting to see Sloclap as a kind of French FromSoftware, namely a studio iterating on similar gameplay principles and making difficulty its trademark. After Absolver And Sifu, can we really imagine Sloclap flourishing in more relaxing experiences? ” We don’t forbid ourselves anything, but I think that in the DNA of the studio there is this notion of making games that are pushed in terms of design, rather third-person action games – in any case, games of action – with depth and challenge. Sifu was indeed particularly demanding, especially when he left. Will this be the case for our next games? Only the future will tell us. What do you want, a master in martial arts, he also handles the art of dodging.

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