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Will there be a Stellaris 2?

Stellaris has been released in 2016 and so cannot be called a young game anymore. Not many blockbuster-games can claim to have a shelf-life of more than 2-3 years of attracting new players. So will we see a Stellaris 2 anytime soon?

Paradox Interactive, the studio behind Stellaris, has an impressive history of long-term support for their games and just recently released its newest free upgrade along another fresh add-on (DLC) to keep the game interesting.

History shows that Paradox does and will keep updating and enhancing Stellaris 1 until the code-base gets too old to be improved upon any further. And firstly, Paradox would develop a newer game-engine – Stellaris is already based on Paradox’ actual game-engine “Clausewitz”, – and release new versions of its older blockbuster games first. Paradox long-term content business model is too good to risk, and the studio also has to allocate developer resources for all the titles they have to keep updated, so they have to use their resources strategically. That means: For many more years to come, we will see upgrades and DLCs for Stellaris 1, but no Stellaris 2.

And this is good news! Your investment in Stellaris 1 should be a good one for several more years!

Upon my request, the studio does not comment on the idea of a Stellaris 2, and does so pretty strongly:

Hi Dan,
Thank you for the e-mail.

We don’t comment on any projects that do or do not exist, or are or are not in development, if they are unannounced. In other words we have no comment as to a possible Stellaris 2 at this time.
Best regards
Paradox IR Team

Why we won’t see Stellaris 2 for years

But there are several more reasons why we will not see a Stellaris 2 for a long time.

Support for multiple platforms

The game has just recently been ported to consoles, which in my opinion makes no sense if Paradox were working on a new version. The more platforms (XBOX, PlayStation, Linux, Mac, PC) to support or code for, the more effort and maintenance work is necessary.

So a new version would have to be developed not only for the original three platforms (Linux, Mac, PC) but for at least five (+PlayStation and XBOX), more if Paradox decides to also release a version for the older versions of XBOX and PlayStation.

Why keeping Stellaris 1 makes economic sense for Paradox Interactive

Developing a new game is risky and very expensive. Game Studios invest millions, for big games even dozens of millions of dollars, into the development of a game and can only hope that enough people are going to love and buy it after release date.

This is very similar to the movie industry, only that the costs of developing a game has long surpassed those of shooting a movie. Today, the decision for the development of a new game is very much a financial and business decision, more so than ever before.

Stellaris 1 is a “cash cow”

Stellaris 1 on the other hand already is a huge success for the studio. In 2020 sales breached 3 million copies, so Stellaris has a huge standing fan- and user base and for sure has earned its development costs for Paradox multiple times.

Each dollar made today selling DLCs and Stellaris itself, minus the cost for developing DLCs and free updates, is profit for the company.

Paradox’ Post Content Model

So in my opinion another reason why we will not see a Stellaris 2 anytime soon is the economic value of this existing huge user base, supporting Paradox’ “post-content model”: Meaning Paradox supports their games long term with free – sometimes massive – updates, while also selling roughly one Add-on (DLC) to the game per year.

By that, Stellaris 1 keeps adding to the companies bottom line.

This way, Paradox on the one hand supports the free updates and keep the game interesting for existing players, adding fresh content. On the other hand, Paradox monetizes its fan base again and again, without having to invest a huge sum of money into rebuilding the game – and fan base.

This is a fair and clever model and a win-win for players and Paradox alike. The players receive free updates long-term and can renew their interest in the game with fresh paid-for content whenever they feel the game gets stale for them.

Economically, this model makes a lot of sense for the developer, too. Paradox Interactive is a business, they need to pay their developers, and they are a publicly traded company. So supporting a game this way long-term and selling to the user base reminds me of a subscription business. Good business model.

To not risk this user base, it makes absolutely sense that there will be no Stellaris 2 for years to come.

Stellaris 2 makes no economic sense at the moment

As we have seen, economically it makes no sense for Paradox to risk their existing customer base and invest a lot of money in the development of a new – unproven – game with no guarantee that existing customers or new will buy the new version and love the new game as much.

Also, developing a new game comes with high-risk of disappointing just about everyone: Some gamers will expect big changes, some players will want everything to stay the same, many will be disappointed … no, developing a new game comes with many risks and high expectations for Paradox.

And the high risk to ruin this working “subscription-business” model.

Stellaris 2 will only come when the code gets too old

So economically, I argue that Stellaris 2 only will see the light of day when upgrading the game with DLCs becomes impossible due to technical limitations of the coding.

Paradox has several games to take care of

Also, Stellaris does not exist in a vacuum. Paradox has several games to support and keep up-to-date. And to keep the software development costs low, Paradox bases their games on their self-developed, shared game engine, “Clausewitz”.

Since Stellaris is already based on one of the latest version of Clausewitz, other Paradox games are probably more in need of a big upgrade. Another Paradox blockbusters comes to mind, Europa Universalis IV? It is 3 years older than Stellaris.

Software Development Resources

Since developer hours are a very scarce resource, I assume that Paradox plans to update the engine and games sequentially. So before they will start to touch any Stellaris 2, they will have worked on a new engine version and first upgrade the older games.

Now, with the release of Imperator: Rome in 2019, Paradox actually has presented a new engine called “Jomini”, but it is no replacement for Clausewitz, but an addition. Its job is to improve map-graphics and modding options.

So another reason why I do not expect a Stellaris 2 anytime soon is the order of game updates within Paradox.

Paradox has a history of long-term support for games

Though Europa Universalis IV is three years older than Stellaris, it still receives updates and new DLCs over 8 years after its release, showing the long term commitment and the aforementioned post-content strategy.

Which is a good sign for Stellaris’ longevity and the long-term plans Paradox has with its games.

No Technological Need For Stellaris 2

Above, I argue that launching Stellaris 2 only makes sense when the costs for updating and upgrading the game become too high or new DLCs even become technologically impossible.

Or over the years the software-code becomes too old, and the game experience becomes slow for the gamers. Actually, since Stellaris’ inception, some complaints are heard about the game slowing down during the endgame. Perhaps this lagging one day becomes the bottleneck forcing Paradox to release a new version of the game?

Also, my argument above still stands, creating a new game is risky and expensive and success is not guaranteed. It is a much better business model to cater the huge existing crowd.

Conclusion: Will we see a Stellaris 2 anytime soon?

We claim above that as long as Clausewitz can be updated, patches released and new DLC sold, we will not see a Stellaris 2 for above-mentioned reasons.

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