At E3 this week, after an unfortunate Steam leak before the show began, Avalanche and Square Enix announced the development of Just Cause 4, a sequel to the massively chaotic boat physics simulator Just Cause 3. Like many players, game developers and readers of Gamasutra have been inspired by the work and polish that's gone into the series' physics simulations.
But while the series' appeal lays in the physics-driven chaos, it's been YouTubers, press, and players uploading videos, gifs, and streams of their gameplay that's helped sell copies and communicate the appeal (It's regularly featured on Kotaku's Highlight Reel, for instance).
So while chatting with Just Cause 4 executive producer Adam Davidson this week, it wasn't entirely surprising to learn that those streams and videos have had a big influence on the development of this new sequel.
The topic came up during a broader discussion about how Avalanche began sifting through the feedback to Just Cause 3, where Davidson explained to us how the studio carefully looked at player reactions to different gameplay components, and what got an emotional response for better or for worse.
When quizzed about if livestreaming has changed how Avalanche makes games, he said "I don't think it can't influence [game] development now."
"There's no way that now, that this new movement of player visibility is upon us, like, we want to see how reviewers are playing our games, but how the guy on the street is playing it, and we never had a window into that like we do now," he continued.
Per Davidson, the launch of Just Cause 3 came at a time when streamers and YouTubers were expanding in size, and by coincidence, it turned out to be a "giffable" game. "There's a lot of compact little events that you can cut down to 10 seconds and are very funny or interesting or wild. And there was no way we weren't going to see it in the office."
Once those gifs, clips, and gameplay streams made their way back to Avalanche, Davidson called it like having "the world's biggest focus test," and every developer on the team has altered their thinking as a result of that. "There's no way a designer sees how someone's interacting with teh world in a way they didn't expect and they don't take into account when they begin working on the next thing," he said.
We'll have more insight from Davidson on the development of Just Cause 4 in a fuller conversation later in our coverage.