The business side of the gaming industry has been a volatile war zone
of politics and scandals for years. Most of the time, all of
that in-fighting is kept under wraps in the name of good press
relations with only an occasional rumor slipping out between the
cracks. Recently, however, it seems to be coming into fashion
for industry insiders and professionals to step up to the podium and
badmouth their previous jobs, or previous projects. And while
its accepted, and even expected, for the game-playing public to lash
out and criticize these titles, when an inside source fires shots the behavior
is unsettling, not to mention unprofessional.
Where did this trend get started? Industry backstabbing,
money-grabs and politics have always existed on some level, but for a
long time very few of these stories made it to the front pages of
gaming sites. Many point to the explosion of press, lawsuits
and bad blood that was released upon an unsuspecting public as a result
of the Activision vs. Infinity Ward scandal. In a time of
relative peace, the torrent of finger-pointing and name-calling was a
sudden wake up call for gamers as we were forced to come face-to-face
with the ugly truth that not every developer is in this business for
love of the game.
furor over that debacle subsided from the public eye others began to
crop up. One of the first was the recent downward spiral of style="font-style: italic;">All Points Bulletin
and its parent company, Realtime Worlds. Whether caught up in
the spirit of airing dirty laundry, or honestly feeling the need to
have their stories heard, former employees of the defunct development
house brought their statements to the public. In the process,
they cast aspersions upon the industry leaders that had been their
superiors, and called into question whether or not the company could
ever have turned their product into a success - all during the same
time that Realtime Worlds has been seeking financial assistance to keep
One former Realtime Worlds employee went so far as to state on href="http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2010/08/16/redundancies-at-real-time-worlds/#comment-491791"
target="_top">a public gaming site that the
sheer time spent and money it took to make style="font-style: italic;">APB is really a
product of fairly directionless creative leadership. And
that was one of the more kindly phrased of the accusations made in
their diatribe. Others included directly questioning the
business acumen of David Jones, Creative Director of Realtime Worlds,
as well as his basic common sense.
Now, I want to be clear here: I will not defend Realtime Worlds for their
apparent blunders in this situation. Any company that spends
$100M (reportedly) on the development of a title only to release an unpolished
product deserves the ramifications of their short-sighted actions. From the public. My point here is that the
inflammatory statements were seeing published are coming directly from
within Realtime Worlds' own personnel.
So, when did it become fashionable to burn bridges and badmouth your
boss on the internet? Or has this been going on for as long
as anonymity has allowed? Is this case but the first of many? And shouldnt we find it
unsettling that this former-employee
is being lauded for these statements instead of condemned for an
obvious lack of loyalty and professionalism?
As it turns out, the commenter known simply as Ex-RTW is not alone in
his/her criticism of former projects. Though this may simply
be a case of foot-in-mouth syndrome, Jack Emmert (CCO of Cryptic
Studios) has also recently come under community scrutiny for the
back-handed statements made toward his previous development projects, style="font-style: italic;">Champions Online
and Star Trek Online.
In a series of interviews surrounding the announcement of Cryptics new
Co-Op RPG, Neverwinter,
target="_top">Emmert was quoted as saying these
previous titles contained hundreds of hours of mediocre (or
worse-than-mediocre) content and that this new project represents a
huge departure from our previous efforts; we're focusing a lot on the
quality of each thing we do. Despite responding to the
backlash over these statements (and others), Emmerts attitude makes is
seem as though these past projects are no longer worthy of his
attention. In fact, hes frequently quoted on his belief that
...if you didn't have a feature at launch, you might as well never
have it--an attitude that flies directly in the face of any MMOGs
sole advantage over the vast number of stand-alone titles available on
PCs and Consoles--the ability to evolve over time.
alt="Ten Ton Hammer car in APB"
"Nice car, man."
Drivin' in style with the Ten Ton Hammer crew.
We can only assume one of two conclusions as to why Emmert has chosen
to make statements such as these regarding his own companys published
titles: Either in an attempt to ingratiate himself with the
public he chose to accept their point of view regarding his previous
projects and jump on the bandwagon of criticism that has already been
heaped upon both CO
and STO, or he simply did not think about the ramifications of the
statements he made and took a stance of looking forward to his next
project a little too far by allowing it to cloud his judgment of
existing games he has helped to publish.
Honestly, either are terrible choices to be made by a publicly
well-known leader of your company. Both harm the previous
projects and, whether knowingly or unknowingly, Emmerts statements
have already left a scar on the existing communities of both style="font-style: italic;">CO and style="font-style: italic;">STO, as well as
casting doubts upon his long-term commitment to style="font-style: italic;">Neverwinter. After all, if hes already willing to make statements such as
the ones above for games that he helped create less than a year after
they were published. What will his attitude toward his next project be
like a year further down the road?
As a journalist myself, I recognize that Im in a precarious position
by taking a stand against these practices. After all, Im in
a position to be incapable of practicing what I preach, and my career
can actually thrive off the drama and bad vibes that are caused by this
type of industry in-fighting. But as a gamer, I deeply care
about the health of this industry, and seeing it torn apart
from the inside by posturing, politics and greed really, truly hurts.
We may be in the business of making games, but that doesnt mean we can
play games with our business.
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our APB: Reloaded Game Page.