My partner in crime and I know a thing or two about immersive games like Majestic. What follows is the reply we sent to Chris Morris, the CNN Money editorial page, and to several other media sites. Special thanks to J. Brown over on the Cloudmaker Group who brought this to our attention.
We read your article entitled "PC Gamers Demand Something Different,
Then Promptly Reject It," posted at http://money.cnn.com/2001/12/19/technology/column_gaming/
12.19.2001. We find it hard to comprehend why you would champion such a poorly executed concept such as "Majestic" or overlook the fact that the launch of "Majestic" came on the heels of a much more well-executed, immersive experience in the form of "The Beast."
"The Beast", of course, was a well executed effort in immersive engineering which was built to virally promote the film "A.I.: Artificial Intelligence." It succeeded in all of the ways that "Majestic" failed. It contained a well written and in depth plot line, used multiple communications mediums to progress the narrative, and utilized elaborate puzzles that required collaboration with others. I'm eager to hear the kind of justification you have for claiming that this kind of innovation was dismissed, when you failed to even examine the very undertaking that has now set the standard for the online immersive experience.
"The Beast" made Time magazine's Best/Worst list.http://www.time.com/time/bestworst2001/tv.html
It made the New York Times list of innovations in the "Year in Ideas."http://www.nytimes.com/2001/12/09/magazine/09GAME.html
"The Beast" also made this month's Entertainment Weekly "Best of 2001" issue as "Site of the Year."
Care to elaborate how this type of innovation was "dismissed" as you put it? "Majestic" simply, in the end, had a poor and inferior product built off of a good idea. The fact that EA expected people to pay for this poor entertainment only sealed their fate; especially when an exponentially better experience was being had for free with "The Beast."
Jeff Brown, vice president of corporate communications for EA should not be apologizing for the concept. He should be begging forgiveness for EA's poor development and execution.
Even before "Majestic" launched, there were many people posting warnings on EA's own message boards that "Majestic" was flawed. These people warned that the slow progression and the "be dragged or pushed" linear narrative would not sustain an audience. Cloudmakers, the group of players who were involved with "The Beast", offered up plenty of warning that EA was not on the path to success. We even advised on how to fix it.
Jeff Brown claims, "the consumer didn't get it." He also boasts that in five years everyone will be using EA's model for Majestic. This is hubris and self-delusion of the highest order. The subscription model and game philosophy deployed by EA will not work. They will fail because EA has underestimated the intelligence of gamers who yearn for this type of experience. They will fail because, in pushing gamers forward with spoon-fed clues, they have eliminated the need for collaboration. Without cooperation, without the social bonding that occurs as players work through puzzles together, these games will not succeed. You may never be able to package this type of entertainment to a mass audience, but if the general sentiment at EA is as audacious as Brown's, EA certainly will NOT be at the forefront.
You say in your article, "Console gamers vastly outnumber PC gamers. A bigger part, though, is the flexibility consoles offer. PC gaming tends to be a solitary experience. Consoles tend to be a more social experience." This just needs an explanation.
To the best of my knowledge, no console to date has any kind of capacity for mass social involvement. Online role-playing and other styles of games for the PC have been allowing people to gather and communicate for years. Online communities form around these games and it is not uncommon for relationships to form offline, outside the gaming dimension.
In an article you wrote May sixteenth of this year, you state: "PC gamers have long had the ability to play against each other over the Internet." You also say that the number of PC online gamers is much higher than the number of gamers using the online option for the Dreamcast, the only console to offer online gaming at that time. Have things changed so much in the past six months? Our X-box consoles are as advanced as what is available out there and, unless you are privy to some news we are not, as of right now one still can't chat, send an email, or hook any other kind of input device to it besides the IR port for the DVD remote and the game controller. The most social experience from a console game I've seen is the ability to make fun of "Player 2" when you knock his/her player to the ice and they start to bleed.
Simply put, we consider your article to be unbalanced and poorly conceived. The failure of one horribly executed game like "Majestic" is in no way an accurate view of gamers' appetites. What gamers ARE quick to dismiss are games that provide a poor experience and expect continued revenue for a sub-standard product.
We recommend you revisit this subject. Just as there are alternatives to games like "Majestic", there are alternatives to Game industry news.
Josh Babetski, Randall Cremean
TaxiCafe MediaThis comment was edited on Dec 20, 19:02.