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VU Games Cuts

Vivendi Universal Games sends along the announcement of a reorganization, which is costing 350 people their jobs. The release specifies that Blizzard is not impacted by the moves, but it seems likely this is connected with recent speculative stories of the closings of Papyrus (story) and Impressions (story). Here's the word:

VIVENDI UNIVERSAL GAMES ANNOUNCES REORGANIZATION AND COST REDUCTIONS AS PART OF TURNAROUND PLAN

LOS ANGELES – June 21, 2004 – Vivendi Universal Games (VU Games) today announced another step in its turnaround plan to improve operating effectiveness, reduce costs and position for growth. The changes include a significant staff reduction in its North American based operations resulting in the elimination of 350 staff positions. The Company's Blizzard Entertainment studio was not part of the staff reduction.

"Restructuring the organization and reducing our cost base are necessary to improve our operating effectiveness and profitability," said VU Games CEO Bruce Hack. "This constitutes another important step in our turnaround plan aimed to better position the Company for growth."

With a global and more focused organization in place, VU Games is looking ahead to the second half of the year with several major releases scheduled for launch. VU Games plans to release World of Warcraft from Blizzard Entertainment, marking the Company's entry into the massively multi-player online role-playing games category. Other current and upcoming releases for 2004 include Crash Twinsanity, Leisure Suit Larry, The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, Van Helsing, Ground Control II, Fight Club and Spyro: A Hero's Tail.

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50. Re: I guess this means Evil Genius is canned Jun 24, 2004, 01:38 Bosco
 
PC Gaming is as dead as ronald Ray-gun

 
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49. Re: I guess this means Evil Genius is canned Jun 23, 2004, 05:20 Cadaver
 
On behalf of Elixir Studios, I can tell you that the status of Evil Genius is unaffected by this news. Development continues to go very well, and we remain on schedule for a fall release.

 
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48. Re: PC Gaming Is Dead? Jun 22, 2004, 20:32 Parallax Abstraction
 
I'll be quite happy to see companies that continue to dump crap on the game market go under. Good riddance, and I hope the "little people" get picked up by other companies who have some idea what the words "quality product" mean.

The gaming public are also to blame for apathetically sucking down broken games on release day and accepting the "ship broken/patch" later model of business. I pointed this out ages ago and got reamed out as a Chicken Little by people with zero foresight or knowledge of the past crash.

Your post is even better. And trust me, I know what it's like to get flamed for point out that if you buy the games that come out in an unfinished state, you are as much to blame as the company that pushed it out. However, I have noticed myself getting flamed far less frequently of late. I think many people are beginning to wake up and that if enough do, a revolution will happen in the industry. A friend and I are planning to develop a web site where this very subject will be discussed. Stay tuned.

Parallax Abstraction
Technical Consultant, Hardcore Modern and Retro Gamer, Video Game Historian
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
 
Parallax Abstraction
Geek Bravado | YouTube
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47. Re: PC Gaming Is Dead? Jun 22, 2004, 20:29 Parallax Abstraction
 
I just don't see a lot of innovation in today’s games. Yeah the graphics look better ever year but the game play is not as addictive. Maybe we are all like the junkies we see on the streets... we just can't remember when a little bit of stuff was good enough.

I don't think your post could have said it better. And I agree that I don't think PC gaming is going anywhere. Perhaps consoles will take the lead, but I don't think they will eve entirely replace the PC niche.


Parallax Abstraction
Technical Consultant, Hardcore Modern and Retro Gamer, Video Game Historian
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
This comment was edited on Jun 22, 20:35.
 
Parallax Abstraction
Geek Bravado | YouTube
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46. Re: Anyone else worried? Jun 22, 2004, 14:30 Brian Reynolds
 
"If history tells us anything, I expect VU will be putting enormous pressure on Blizzard to get World of Warcraft out the door even if it's nowhere near ready in order to reap the cash benefits"

Blizzard is nigh-invulnerable to this sort of thing now for three reasons:

1) They are the most consistent, sure-fire, HUGE money-maker in Vivendi's stable.

2) Their games are nearly always delayed significantly beyond what Vivendi or other publishers would like to see but the results ALWAYS prove that delay made for a better game and better profits.

3) Making a sequel or "franchise enhancement" is one of the best ways to insure profitability and Vivendi will not risk losing that by forcing Blizzard to rush things.

Vivendi will encourage and work with Blizzard to develop a workable schedule that will allow full marketing "synergy", but Blizzard is fully in the driver's seat.

...

The areas that Blizzard may have angst against Vivendi will stem from the areas that Vivendi could help extend their ideas into new territory that are overlooked. Blizzard pointedly wanted to explore the possibilities of leveraging the Universal Studios connection to create movies based on their storylines but that's still a prospect yet to be realized.

 
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45. Re: No subject Jun 22, 2004, 10:20 Beamer
 
I still think the PCs will be noted as superior and returned to, it will just take time.



The consoles are so much better managed, though. Go look at the developers of your old NES games. A decent amount of those developers are still around, 20 years later.

Now look at the developers of the PC games you played in the mid 90s. Very few of those are still around after 10 years.


Console developers get it. They realize the value of a good creative team. PC developers don't. They think of creating games as creating movies - parts are interchangable. But you can't swap one level designer for another like you can with a key grip or prop maker.

 
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44. Anyone else worried? Jun 22, 2004, 09:37 KezClone
 
If history tells us anything, I expect VU will be putting enormous pressure on Blizzard to get World of Warcraft out the door even if it's nowhere near ready in order to reap the cash benefits of the franchise's reputation and early adopters. Doing so would give them an immediate cash bump, even to the detriment of Blizzard's reputation for putting out stable, finished games.

Along these lines, I wonder if we'll be seeing Blizzard employees bleeding out the door as they get more and more disgusted and frustrated with the Suits telling them to shove the unfinished product out the door? We've seen this happen so many times before.

It's a MMORPG, folks. It's gonna be "sell it now, fix it later after we get the money".


____________
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43. Re: No subject Jun 22, 2004, 09:11 nin
 
If you listen to all the chicken littles, the sky has been falling on PC gaming for about 20 years now. Guess what? It's still here...

There is the theory of the moebius, a twist in the fabric of space where time becomes a loop time becomes a loop time becomes a loop http://www.loopz.co.uk/
 
http://store.nin.com/index.php?cPath=10
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42. No subject Jun 22, 2004, 03:57 Serpico
 
Some of the comments here kill me. Yes, it's sad that the PC market isn't making as much money as we wish it would. But to conclude that consoles make more money than PC games do simply because the unwashed masses are stupid is, well... stupid.

Yes, there are hack games that are cranked out for the consoles simply to make money. The thing is that the same thing happens in the PC world too (Deer Hunter series?). The fact of the matter is that there are lots of great, innovative, fun games that are out on the current console generation. I own all three systems, a GBA, as well as my PC. I'll go out and say that there have been many more fun games to play on the consoles since 2001 (Call of Duty, NOLF2, and Battlefield 1942 notwithstanding).

Bottom line is that I've played lots of great games on my Gamecube, PS2 and XBox. I'm currently enjoying Ninja Gaiden, the best (and most challenging) action game I've played in forever.

Yeah, I'm upgrading my PC to insane levels whenever Half Life 2 or Doom 3 go gold. But either way I'm not going to badmouth the console systems simply because they aren't for "mature" gamers. That kind of thinking will deprive you of some good times.

 
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41. No subject Jun 22, 2004, 03:03 Vipermmx
 
good example is Heroes of World War 2.....

The gameplay is RTS/Commando/Direct Control and COOP plus later addons for free like multiplayer vs and new units.

 
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40. No subject Jun 22, 2004, 02:18 Valtyr
 
I understand they are in the buisness of making money, as is every "good" company out there. Really, I do undrstand that.

But as a gamer reading this press release which ends with listing games on rather forgetable movies like Van Helsing, The Chronicles of Riddick and so on, all I have to say to that is Screw you VU


I also agree with what has been said already. Games just aren't original anymore, and I realize it's hard to come up with a totally new concept everytime a developer creates a new game, but there's always room to mix around designs and gameplay mechanics.

Today you just don't really see a lot of that anymore, but then, I don't see that happening with console games either. Yeah, there's some games that do something new or different for both platform every now and then. But they seem to be rare.

But I also remember a time before the PS2 and XBox etx. rolled around were plenty of people predicted the death of PC Games and I'm happy to say they were wrong. Back then anyways...
This comment was edited on Jun 22, 02:24.
 
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39. Re: PC Gaming Is Dead? Jun 22, 2004, 01:55 Camaro76
 
People are getting fed up with not being able to enjoyably play a game out of the box. Instead, they have to wait until patches finally complete the game they bought weeks or even months before. They see the ease of use of consoles games and their expansion into online and it sure looks attractive.

Bingo. The console is a toaster. You pop in your game, play a few hours, and that's it. The PC requires a larger time investment and money investment (you need to have a video card that can run your game, enough HD space, broadband to download patches, blah blah etc.).

And there's also the simple fact that a vast majority of Joe Sixpacks out there are computer stupid. The instant something bad happens they are shit out of luck until their mother's brother's friend's uncle's cousin twice removed comes over to have a look at the friggin' machine. I do so much damn tech support for my friends and family that I made up some business cards and turned my answering maching into a automated call center. Joe Sixpack does not download patches or service updates. Joe Sixpack does not read IGN game reviews. Companies are starting to realize that they can make more money from Joe Sixpack and his console, than Tommy 'Hardcore' Geek on his PC, with less hassle.

I am so glad I am not working in the computer gaming industry. The only ones with job security are the ones with the Armani suits. (Unless your last name happens to be Broussard or Carmack...)

---------------------------------------------
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mocking the TV-violence debate
 
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38. Re: PC Gaming Is Dead? Jun 22, 2004, 00:15 Hyperion_72
 
The shift to consoles is not a cause - it's a symptom. People are moving to consoles to avoid the things Paranoid mentioned (the lack of quality and innovation, piracy).

It's not just the kids moving to console, either. I'm seeing guys in their late 20s and early 30s picking up consoles (again) and tapering off their PC gaming. Unless the console market tanks, you won't see these people come flocking back to PC gaming unless radical changes are made to how games are produced (ie. finish them before you take our damned money).

The gaming market crashed for similar reasons in the 80s and it will do so again. This time, it's PC gaming, but there is a haven in consoles (until the ship now/patch later philosophy kills that, too).

People are getting fed up with not being able to enjoyably play a game out of the box. Instead, they have to wait until patches finally complete the game they bought weeks or even months before. They see the ease of use of consoles games and their expansion into online and it sure looks attractive.

I jumped ship 2 years ago. The few PC games I've bought since only reinforced my decision. I still play PC games, but I am very careful about buying new ones.

I'm not surprised to see another company cutting people loose. I'm not surprised it's the "little people" getting cut and not the guys who are the ones pushing unfinished games out the door, either.

I'll be quite happy to see companies that continue to dump crap on the game market go under. Good riddance, and I hope the "little people" get picked up by other companies who have some idea what the words "quality product" mean.

The gaming public are also to blame for apathetically sucking down broken games on release day and accepting the "ship broken/patch" later model of business. I pointed this out ages ago and got reamed out as a Chicken Little by people with zero foresight or knowledge of the past crash.

Just wait, it'll seem to get better when Doom3 and HL2 hit, but wait a few years and see how the PC gaming landscape looks. It'll be here, but it won't be nearly what it used to be.

 
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37. PC Gaming Is Dead? Jun 21, 2004, 23:53 Paranoid Jack
 
Bah! Not even close. You guys are looking at the small picture. The big picture is the fact that On-Line gaming and on-line sales is the reason EB has a smaller section. Though the store near me hasn't changed much. Some stores carry more PC over Console... some the opposite. Though Software Etc. was closed because they just weren't making enough bank for the owner.

Another reason they (EB, Funcoland, Babbages, and Software Etc.) are reducing their size is the larger chain stores (like BestBuy) and the discount stores (like Wal-mart and Target) are under cutting their inflated prices.

Yet another reason the games of today are selling fewer units is because as somebody already put it... they're all copying each other. So there are more games on the shelves, which sell few units at a lower selling point.

There are so many reasons for the decline in PC game sales. Piracy, poor quality, and cookie cutter game design are all factors.

Let's not forget the on-line gamer... who purchases fewer games and spends far more time playing those games on average when compared to the console and single-player PC crowd.

Hell, I have several games that are two years old I still play on-line. And several more single-player games that are years old, which I am replaying.

I just don't see a lot of innovation in today’s games. Yeah the graphics look better ever year but the game play is not as addictive. Maybe we are all like the junkies we see on the streets... we just can't remember when a little bit of stuff was good enough.


 
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36. I guess this means Evil Genius is canned Jun 21, 2004, 23:46 Exitium
 
Or does it?

 
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35. No subject Jun 21, 2004, 23:12 space captain
 
face it folks, its not just the PC games industry that is going to shit... ITS THE WHOLE FUCKING WORLD! "the future's uncertain and the end is always near..."

im just happy to breathe my next breath, and take every moment as it comes... sing while you may!

enter: the terminal kaleidescope
http://www.terminalkaleidoscope.com/

_____________________________________________
Give me slack. Or kill me.
 
______________________________________________
"When the bomb drops it'll be a bank holiday
Everybody happy in their tents and caravans
Everybody happy in their ignorance and apathy
No one realizes until the television breaks down..."

- SUBHUMANS
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34. Re: Ray of hope Jun 21, 2004, 22:03 Belmont
 
Psh no mention of Silent Storm in those European releases...

Meh if the PC Game market died it would come back shortly just because the sheer amount of PCs out there and even the thick skulled suits that only see green might actually learn that stifling creativity in an industry based on it will kill it.


 
"Choice and Consequence." Gareth 'Section8' Davies on the key ingredients of an RPG.
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33. Ray of hope Jun 21, 2004, 21:33 Istari
 
I hope this is the heyday of console games, much as the mid-late 90's was for PC gaming. That would mean a swing back into balance eventually.

There are two things which give me a little hope for PC games:

1) All these young console gamers will eventually get old like me (31 years old), and may want more sophisticated fare. That's a BIG market in a few years.

2) The Eastern Europeans have been kicking a-- the past few years - Operation Flashpoint, IL-2, with S.T.A.L.K.E.R. on the way. They seem to have the patience and lack of marketing suits to create rich, detailed games. I just hope they'll keep at it - if I could pick one game to transport back through time and land in my lap now, it will be Operation Flashpoint 2. Can't wait for that one!

Istari


 
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32. Re: No subject Jun 21, 2004, 21:14 Beamer
 
I think this is the heyday of console gaming, but I think the shift will be back to PC gaming.



It's significantly more versatile, and has a larger installed userbase. It's just not popular now, but it's time will rise again.

 
-------------
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http://www.hydrahead.com
http://www.painkillerrecords.com
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31. Re: No subject Jun 21, 2004, 20:15 Bucky
 
PC gaming was just starting to become something people talked about when I started gaming. Yet I enjoyed it as much then as I do now--I've always considered it a niche market so I guess the whole 'PC gaming is dying!' cry that is going up just doesn't faze me like it apparently should.

Long live computer games!

_________________________
Gameplay before graphics.
 
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