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Denki Lays Off Workers As Quarrel Fails To Find 'Right' Publisher

Denki Games is undergoing "major restructuring" as its word game, Quarrel, originally announced for Xbox Live Arcade, has failed "to find the right publishing partner."
Dundee, Scotland-based Denki is in the midst of "major restructuring" after its completed word game, Quarrel, hasn't "been able to find the right publishing partner," according to a blog post by managing director Colin Anderson. He did not reveal how many positions were affected. "Despite the game being finished, super polished, and everyone who plays it having great fun with it, we’ve slowly been remembering why we got out of the traditional games industry for so long and escaped to interactive television in the first place: this industry doesn’t value good games," Anderson wrote. "Players do, but the games industry doesn't." He continued, "Instead [the games industry] values low risk games – not even 'calculated' risk games, just low risk. And that leads to bogus sweeping generalizations such as 'Gamers don’t play word games.'" Denki was founded in 2000 by former employees of DMA Design, now known as Rockstar North, which is responsible for creating Grand Theft Auto and Lemmings. Anderson said that this is the "first time we’ve been forced to take such extreme measures" during the company's 10 years in business. Denki also created TV-based games for Sky Television in the UK. Quarrel is a competitive word-based game that is inspired by board games. The basic premise involves a scramble of letters, and players face off against each other with the goal of coming up with a higher-scoring word. The game was originally announced as Denki's first Xbox Live Arcade game, slated for release in 2010. One way or another, Denki will be releasing the game this year, Anderson said. "We’ve tried to play by the rules and take Quarrel through the industry the old-fashioned way, because we realize how important good marketing support, etc., is – but you know what? It just isn’t worth the hassle any more," Anderson said. He said that smaller game studios need to be selling their games directly to consumers instead of relying on the industry's cash-rich decision makers. "My advice? If you’re an independent developer, and you’re not selling games directly to customers yet, start worrying, because this industry is changing beyond all recognition," Anderson added. "From this point on we’re going straight to the people who play games and value games, focusing on platforms that don’t have arbitrary gate-keepers who periodically change the requirement goal-posts halfway through development," the managing director said. Gamasutra emailed Denki for more details about the restructuring and the future of Quarrel.

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