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Op Ed

Massively - Learning from the 38 Studios disaster.
It's said that Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning needed to sell three million copies for the studio to break even on its investment, but we all know that's not practical because even the best games rarely reach that number quickly enough to pay back a government loan less than three months after launch. Bethesda and Blizzard aside, selling three million copies of a game to break even is quite a risk for any studio. That's literally gambling on the livelihoods of hundreds of people working on that project. You can't take risks at that level of investment, which is exactly why small indie studios are thriving right now. People don't care as much about pretty graphics and realistic voice-overs as they did five years ago. People want to have fun. The end.

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30. Re: Op Ed May 27, 2012, 00:28 Fion
 
NegaDeath wrote on May 26, 2012, 23:34:
Tried the demo a couple months ago. Found it boring. Incredibly boring. This type of game is usually right up my ally but this felt so by the numbers my brain turned off. I wish the former employees well but I couldn't see this breaking 3 mil.

The demo is the tutorial, and yea the tutorial was crap. Not till you get a good bit farther into the game, unlock some new skills, get fateweaving, that the gameplay becomes decently fun.
 
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29. Re: Op Ed May 26, 2012, 23:34 NegaDeath
 
Tried the demo a couple months ago. Found it boring. Incredibly boring. This type of game is usually right up my ally but this felt so by the numbers my brain turned off. I wish the former employees well but I couldn't see this breaking 3 mil.  
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28. Re: Op Ed May 26, 2012, 21:36 Mr. Tact
 
panbient wrote on May 26, 2012, 16:05:
Am I the only one getting all sorts of Ion Storm deja-vu with this fiasco?
It's worse than that -- at least Ion Storm wasn't your tax dollars at work...
 
Truth is brutal. Prepare for pain.
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27. Re: Op Ed May 26, 2012, 21:24 Jerykk
 
Alamar wrote on May 26, 2012, 20:45:
Jerykk wrote on May 26, 2012, 19:06:
It didn't help that the whole setting and storyline in the game is just so damn generic. All this huge talent from a variety of industries and they went with a typical 'evil elves trying to take over the world and you, a nondescript soldier must become the ultimate hero to defeat them.'

This. If you're making a new IP, you need to make sure it stands out. Generic fantasy does not stand out.

I saw this complaint a bunch, but I wonder, how is it more generic than Skyrim.

-Alamar

Well, for one, Skyrim's setting has some pretty heavy Norse inspiration, which isn't something you see very often. Also, the Elder Scrolls lore is pretty deep and there's a lot of interesting history there. There's also a great diversity of races. In Amalur, there's nothing really notable about the setting and there are basically two races: humans and elves. There's nothing interesting about the lore or the politics. The fact that the next Amalur game was going to be an MMO really comes as no surprise, as the generic setting is all too standard for that genre.
 
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26. Re: Op Ed May 26, 2012, 21:10 xXBatmanXx
 
Prez wrote on May 26, 2012, 19:49:
It was a console release too, wasn't it? 3 million units isn't that unrealistic if you factor in Xbox and PS3 sales, since even mediocre games sell a bunch on them it seems.

Still, that is probably setting the bar a little high for a new studio's first game. Not to mention that just on basic principle it seems crazy that selling 2 million units of anything wouldn't even come close to yielding a profit.

Yea I find it a little pathetic with the marketing and other names involved that it only sold about 330k (retail) units in the US across all 3 platforms. Ouch. One would think 3 million over 3 platforms should be an "easy" task....
 
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25. Re: Op Ed May 26, 2012, 21:03 killer_roach
 
I wouldn't say indie studios are thriving... some indie studios are, just as some AAA studios are. I'd say the failure rate of indie studios is likely far higher, but that would cut against the argument they're trying to make.

Simply put, to use a baseball metaphor (something the company's founder might know a thing or two about), 38 Studios took a home run cut on a first pitch change-up in the dirt. To get the funding they wanted quickly, they made promises that simply were impossible to meet, and as a result, the studio should be faulted (for setting those expectations) as should the state of Rhode Island (for thinking that said expectations were based in reality).
 
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24. Re: Op Ed May 26, 2012, 21:01 Cutter
 
Prez wrote on May 26, 2012, 19:49:
It was a console release too, wasn't it? 3 million units isn't that unrealistic if you factor in Xbox and PS3 sales, since even mediocre games sell a bunch on them it seems.

Still, that is probably setting the bar a little high for a new studio's first game. Not to mention that just on basic principle it seems crazy that selling 2 million units of anything wouldn't even come close to yielding a profit.

That's why I thought it was insane that they built this game for the 360 first and foremost, yet they thought this would somehow draw in PC gamers for it and the MMO?? Antiquated graphics, poor control scheme - couldn't even jump! - recycled generic underwhelming content. They went for style over substance in a big way and the style wasn't that good. Curt was always going on about this 10,000 year history Salavtore laid out. And what the hell good was any of that when you were focused on one moment in time? Just so many bad decisions all around on all levels of this game but they thought they were too cool for school.

 
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23. Re: Op Ed May 26, 2012, 20:45 Alamar
 
Jerykk wrote on May 26, 2012, 19:06:
It didn't help that the whole setting and storyline in the game is just so damn generic. All this huge talent from a variety of industries and they went with a typical 'evil elves trying to take over the world and you, a nondescript soldier must become the ultimate hero to defeat them.'

This. If you're making a new IP, you need to make sure it stands out. Generic fantasy does not stand out.

I saw this complaint a bunch, but I wonder, how is it more generic than Skyrim.

-Alamar
 
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22. Re: Op Ed May 26, 2012, 19:49 Prez
 
It was a console release too, wasn't it? 3 million units isn't that unrealistic if you factor in Xbox and PS3 sales, since even mediocre games sell a bunch on them it seems.

Still, that is probably setting the bar a little high for a new studio's first game. Not to mention that just on basic principle it seems crazy that selling 2 million units of anything wouldn't even come close to yielding a profit.
 
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21. Re: Op Ed May 26, 2012, 19:06 Jerykk
 
It didn't help that the whole setting and storyline in the game is just so damn generic. All this huge talent from a variety of industries and they went with a typical 'evil elves trying to take over the world and you, a nondescript soldier must become the ultimate hero to defeat them.'

This. If you're making a new IP, you need to make sure it stands out. Generic fantasy does not stand out.
 
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20. Re: ahuh? May 26, 2012, 18:07 jdreyer
 
Shataan wrote on May 26, 2012, 17:41:
"People don't care as much about pretty graphics and realistic voice-overs as they did five years ago."

Keep telling yourselves that.

Try convincing all the peeps who are buying new 680 GTXs, or the new 690s. We don`t upgrade to play games with crap visuals.

Yeah, I don't care about visuals, that's why I "only" bought a GTX 670 instead of a 680. =P

There are two things going on here though:
1. Core gamers still care about graphic fidelity as much as ever. But
gaming has spread from 5% of the population to 50%. Most of those participating in the industry are casual gamers who aren't necessarily looking for a realistic immersive experience, but just a fun time-waster.

2. Most AAA titles these days are cross-platform, and the ancient hardware in the xBox and PS3 are really holding back the graphics of PC games. Case in point is Crysis, which despite being made five years ago, is still one of the best looking, highest fidelity games out there, unsurpassed by all but a few games like BF3.
 
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19. Re: Op Ed May 26, 2012, 17:52 xXBatmanXx
 
ASeven wrote on May 26, 2012, 16:12:
Apparently RA Salvatore is receiving $5M for not having done a single thing for the game.

Wasn't it based off of his characters? I don't have a problem with him getting paid up front. Maybe he had the forsight to realise it wasn't going ot make any money and wanted to be paid up front instead of a % of profit?
 
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In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. / Few men have virtue enough to withstand the highest bidder.
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18. ahuh? May 26, 2012, 17:41 Shataan
 
"People don't care as much about pretty graphics and realistic voice-overs as they did five years ago."

Keep telling yourselves that.

Try convincing all the peeps who are buying new 680 GTXs, or the new 690s. We don`t upgrade to play games with crap visuals.

The reason we see crap dated visuals in new releases, is cause Devs are too freaking cheap to educate their team to utilize the power of the newer GPUs.
 
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17. Re: Op Ed May 26, 2012, 17:18 Agent.X7
 
jdreyer wrote on May 26, 2012, 14:37:
I think the biggest tragedy is the loss of Big Huge Games which had a good pedigree and put out decent games.

People don't care as much about pretty graphics and realistic voice-overs as they did five years ago. People want to have fun. The end.

Well, looking at the buying frenzy that surrounded both Skyrim and Diablo III, I don't agree with that statement. AAA games will sell millions, but I don't think that's the case with a first run game. 38 studios should have followed in the footsteps of the Trine or Torchlight teams, building a small initial high quality game to build hype and name recognition, and improving on it in round 2. Also, too: "Reckoning: Kingdoms of Amalur"? Really? Skyrim, Torchlight, Diablo, Battlefield, all one word titles.

Skyrim has the longest title of any of the bunch that you name. It's not Skyrim. It's The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

And plenty of people refer to it as Reckoning. One word. The title had nothing to do with it not living up to their expectations.
 
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16. Re: Op Ed May 26, 2012, 16:40 Cutter
 
Sepharo wrote on May 26, 2012, 14:43:
xXBatmanXx wrote on May 26, 2012, 14:41:
Wasn't part of the downfall of 38 that they had way to many employees? Thought I read somewhere they had close to 400!? Seems high.

They had to create a specific amount of jobs to receive all that tax payer money.

I still haven't heard how many actual jobs were created. My understanding was that they were already fully staffed and were just relocating to RI. So 100+ million down the tubes, no jobs created or taxes paid.

xXBatmanXx wrote on May 26, 2012, 16:12:
Anyone even play the game? Weird it got pretty decent reviews. Sounds as though they fell prey to doing a horrible job of setting realistic expectations.

Most reviews weren't that great and even less so from gamers. It wasn't like it was bad, just meh. I got about just about 1/2 way through it before I quit it out of boredom.
 
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15. Re: Op Ed May 26, 2012, 16:31 space captain
 
deqer wrote on May 26, 2012, 16:17:
"Reckoning" ? Reckoning what? Why make me think about it?

This title "Reckoning: Kingdoms of Amalur" is absolutely terrible because it's absolutely boring and already taking a toll on my brain and I haven't even started playing the game yet. Ugh...


maybe you should go back to digging in the ground for grubs with a stick.. its more your speed
 
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14. Re: Op Ed May 26, 2012, 16:24 Fion
 
I agree Deqer. It didn't help that the whole setting and storyline in the game is just so damn generic. All this huge talent from a variety of industries and they went with a typical 'evil elves trying to take over the world and you, a nondescript soldier must become the ultimate hero to defeat them.'

There were interesting parts, like the fateweaving was an interesting mechanic, but other than that it was all so.. done to death by other games over the years. (Not to mention that's also the storyline for every single Bioware game every made. As good as their games can be, the storyline is identical in every single game..)

Still, I do recommend the game, especially if it's like on a steam sale for $10 or something. It's quite fun, the combat is some of the better 'action rpg' combat I've seen and the monsters are fun to fight.
 
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13. Re: Op Ed May 26, 2012, 16:17 deqer
 
jdreyer wrote on May 26, 2012, 14:37:
"Reckoning: Kingdoms of Amalur"
No kidding.

I mean, really... Do I really want to learn about a place called Amalur? Why would I give a shit? and "Kingdom" ? There's a Kingdom of Amalur that I need to learn about now? and "Kingdoms" with a plural? So, there's now multiple kingdoms I need to learn about? Oh god... just get to the fucking game/fun already.

"Reckoning" ? Reckoning what? Why make me think about it?

This title "Reckoning: Kingdoms of Amalur" is absolutely terrible because it's absolutely boring and already taking a toll on my brain and I haven't even started playing the game yet. Ugh...

Way to fail the whole project just by bad naming, 38 Studios.
 
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12. Re: Op Ed May 26, 2012, 16:14 jdreyer
 
panbient wrote on May 26, 2012, 16:05:
Am I the only one getting all sorts of Ion Storm deja-vu with this fiasco?

Nah. Kurt Schilling never said he was going to make you his bitch.
 
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11. Re: Op Ed May 26, 2012, 16:12 xXBatmanXx
 
Anyone even play the game? Weird it got pretty decent reviews. Sounds as though they fell prey to doing a horrible job of setting realistic expectations.  
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In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. / Few men have virtue enough to withstand the highest bidder.
Playing: New dad
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