It doesn't matter how many people complain about the barrage of zombie games that pile into our industry year-by-year -- the undead refuse to go away.
While some franchises choose to include specific zombie-based game modes as part of a fuller package, Sniper Elite studio Rebellion Developments is going all-in on the genre, releasing a zombie Sniper Elite spin-off at the end of this month.
Nazi Zombie Army, due for release via Steam on February 28, is a standalone download set in the Sniper Elite universe, and consists of a single-player/co-op campaign featuring the franchise's lead protagonist Karl Fairburne, as he battles an army of the undead led by Hitler.
The idea of spinning off a main franchise into a smaller, cheaper side title to keep appetites whet for the main series line is becoming increasingly common at the moment, and an avenue that Rebellion CEO Jason Kingsley believes will be pushed to the forefront even more in the years to come.
"And why not?" he tells Gamasutra. "It's the gamer that benefits in the end because it plays to strengths of independent studios. In the case of Nazi Zombie Army, it allowed us to do something new with Sniper Elite, something fun, and give players a new campaign at a fraction of the cost - and risk - of a full retail release."
He adds, "Games on digital platforms tend to succeed on their own merits too, which means independents can learn quickly about the kind of games people really want to play."
The title is based on the Sniper Elite V2 tech, although it doesn't require the original Sniper Elite V2 to play it -- plus, it adds four-player online co-op, where V2 only offered two-player.
"We wanted to be able to offer something new and a little 'meatier' for fans - something they could play with friends who might not already own a copy of Sniper Elite V2," explains Kingsley.
"We knew we already had single player DLC in the pipeline anyway, so when the team started playing around with the idea of a fully-fledged spin off, we thought 'what's stopping us?'"
The game takes Sniper Elite V2 and tweaks it to accommodate the new enemy types, giving the overall tone a more action-based feel, rather than the serious historical angle that the main series goes for.
And in creating this spin-off, Rebellion has been able to tackle an angle that it would have found tricky with DLC: teamwork.
"It's about crowd management," notes Kingsley. "We knew we wouldn't achieve that in the production plan we had for the DLC."