1) Messier takes the company $19 BILLION into debt; and he gets a 17-MILLION-dollar layoff package!! Just goes to show you how broken corporate systems are right now. The average CEO gets something like 150 - 1,000 times the pay of the average worker (CBS had a special on this recently I believe); and although his/her "high" pay in the old-days (back when it was only 20 times the average) was because of the "risks" and "responsibilities" - today CEO's get huge severance deals in their contracts before they even join the company. All they have to do is claw their way to the top, and they are set for life no matter what. There's incentive to may the stocks look good; but there's NO incentive these days to actually make the company successful in the long-term.
2) Lots of us at Sierra and WON.net-Berkley-Prize Central-Flipside.com (to illustrate one example) saw what Vivendi was doing - everytime a company started losing lots of money, Vivendi (or Havas) would buy up a new company, merge it with the old company, and hide the debts in the acquired company's books. They compounded the issue by also trying to throw management from the merged companies together into one leadership team; but this just usually resulted in territorial battles and office politics. That, of course, is seperate from the accounting; but you can imagine that it usually didn't help the companies succeed by adding that to the mix.
3) Yes, Sierra has had some great games since the Vivendi buyout - and a LOT of its blunders (*cough the entire TRIBES franchise *cough*) are its own fault. Its long been a middle-management-heavy company; and relied on publishing quantity over quality to even out the profits and losses through the 80's and early 90's. But that technique no longer works in today's market - and sometimes good games don't sell well enough to make a profit, even when hardcore gamers like them (like Ground Control and Tribes 1). Today's top games cost MULTIPLE millions of dollars to make; and only 3 - 5% of ALL games ever go on to actually make money. Its very easy to spend yourself into a corner if you don't have a "mega-hit" (to pay the bills) often enough (as has been pointed out, its now been 4 years since HL released). So in short, some of Sierra's problems are its own, some are Vivendi, and some are just plain bad luck.
4) Don't idolize or demonize any company entirely. Within EVERY company - from small developers to giant publishers, to whomever - there's always a wide range of quality people, adequate people, and people that get by with hanging onto the coat-tails of others. You can criticize a company like Vivendi for getting into a market it had no understanding of, or Sierra for directing a game poorly... But remember that inside every company there are at least a few people working really hard for what they believe in; and also remember to judge people as individuals and not by the company they work for.
This comment was edited on Dec 12, 20:46.