I was saddened to hear the news about Denki this week, http://www.denki.co.uk/2010/04/05/black-easter-monday-at-denki-towers/. The difficulty in finding a publisher for their new game Quarrel has meant Denki has had to lay off a lot of their staff.
Co-founder Colin Anderson said in the article: "Players do [value good games], but the games industry doesn’t. Instead it values low risk games – not even “calculated” risk games, just low risk”
It seems to make sense for publishers now to just go for a ‘safe bet’ rather than something innovative. How many Modern Warfare games are there? 7? It seems that publisher’s pump money into games already proven to sell, in return they might take a chance on one new IP and all of a sudden they say ‘we reward innovation’.
New IP walks hand-in-hand with high risk; high risk walks hand-in-hand with uncertainty. I can understand publisher’s need to invest in games that are on their 5th instalment as they know will fly off the shelves, reading a lot of fans comments on sequels the feeling that comes over is that gamers want to love something new as well…
Lately there has also been a lot of coverage of Jason West and Vince Zampella (Ex-Infinity Ward bosses) in the news about their legal battle with Activision. These two pieces of news have made me think a lot about publishers and their relationship with developers.
The ex-IW bosses’ lawyer said: "None of the false claims of insubordination or breach of duties had any negative affect on Activision — none.” If this is true then it paints publishers like EA and Activision as soulless companies who just want everyone to have a perfect perception of them. CEO of Activision Bobby Kotick said (after speaking about Activision’s ethos) “It’s almost the opposite of Electronic Arts, which has commoditized development. It did a very good job of taking the soul out of a lot of the studios it acquired." This just gives me a vibe of a politician, trying to portray a perfect veneer for their own ends and to use any opportunity to tar a rival with a negative slant.
Regarding the legal battle with Messrs West and Zampella “In fact, Activision said the whole sorry situation has cost it dearly, with extra resource assigned to MW3's development, plus a stack of legal fees, not to mention the overall controversy.” Surely then just drop the whole saga and you want have any more legal fees, other than the ones originally incurred? I would like to know the truth of the whole situation but I don’t think anyone except those involved ever will…