What’s Going On With Ghostbusters?

By John Walker on June 19th, 2009 at 12:21 am.

We used to be looking forward to this.

If you’ve been trying to keep up with the development and publishing of the Ghostbusters game, then you’ll be understandably dizzy. Victim of the Hadron Collider’s experiment to merge Activision and Blizzard (I think that’s how it happened), thrown between publishers like a radioactive ball, eventually picked up to be part of the misadventures of Atari, and then at the last second swooped in on by Sony like a mad buzzard, it’s been a deeply peculiar process. Then it got weirder. It’s currently on sale in the US on all formats. And in the UK and Europe? Due out today, it’s on PS3, PS2, and er, nothing else, the PC and other console releases pushed back to October. Then another twist – the Americanly released PC version turns out not to include the multiplayer features. What the cripes is going on?

Well, it seems it’s thanks to the Sony deal. Or indeed thanks to Atari’s continued troubled ways. GI.biz reported the Sony deal earlier this month, during which they speculated the deal was another sign of Atari’s financial woes. This prompted a response from Atari to defend their decision that at this point is rather stinging with irony. VP of Atari’s worldwide marketing, Jim Wilson, explained,

“Atari is committed to maximising the launch of the Ghostbusters videogame across Europe. In partnership with both Sony Pictures Consumer Products and Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, we have a unique opportunity to add new game products and expand marketing opportunities to reach Ghostbusters fans in Europe.”

According to the RPS abacus, releasing the game on only two of the six planned platforms doesn’t quite maximise the launch. We’d go so far as to suggest it somewhat minimises it. Although it probably works out quite nicely for Sony, who have it exclusively until – in what might be the strangest deadline of all time – the PSP version is finished. Um, right. So once it’s ready for the flailing handheld, PC, Wii, DS and 360 players will be allowed a go, four months later.

The irony of this ridiculous situation is only deepened when you learn the PS3 port is the poorest version of the game on the current-gen consoles. Eurogamer’s 360 vs. PS3 face-off article reveals that the PS3 version is extremely compromised, runs more poorly, and doesn’t offer the same resolutions as the 360 (and therefore we also assume PC) build. Richard also talks about something called “quincunx” which has to be about the rudest word I’ve ever seen.

So what about the PC version and its missing multiplayer? Because when you think PC, the last thing you think of is multiplayer, right? Apparently this was the case during development, as the explanation offered to Big Download appears to suggest. They spoke to CEO of Threewave Software (the company hired to create the multiplayer for the game), Dan Irish, and asked why the world’s largest online platform doesn’t include online gaming.

“Multiplayer for the PC version of Ghostbusters is something that Threewave and Terminal Reality always wanted to do. However, our focus was on making the console version the best that they could be – an experience that allows multiple players to re-live and re-fight many of the themes from the movies. When we looked at the resources necessary to pull off multiplayer on the consoles and the PC, it became a question of what could we do and still be excellent in our execution. We couldn’t do all versions with multiplayer simultaneously with the resources that we had available – there was simply too much to do. Something would have to suffer. Therefore, we kept our focus on making the console versions deliver on the promise of being an integral player on the Ghostbusters team.”

Which seems to be quite openly saying that they considered the PC version to be the least important, so ditched it. Whether they will find time to create a PC version post-release has yet to be established. Nor indeed whether the four-month-delayed European version will have given them a chance to get it done.

It’s hard to imagine a more ludicrous route from initial excitement to disastrous release mess. (Unless you count poor Brutal Legend of course, with Activision now suing EA for planning to release the game.) And it’s hard to give a shit about Ghostbusters any more. Once we were all hyped up about the possibilities for a continuation of the films’ story, written by the original team. Now it’s been ensured that all UK reviews are of the weak PS3 version it’s already got a bad name, and by October we’ll all have forgotten about it in the mix of the big name releases at the end of the year.

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106 Comments »

  1. Michael Rose says:

    Sometimes the world of gaming politics amazes (saddened) me.

  2. Taillefer says:

    “Publisher taking developer Double Fine to court over EA Partners game it passed on after Vivendi Games merger…”

    So Activision are actually suing Double Fine …right?
    I like Tim’s response.

  3. Howard says:

    It is such a shame that they have cocked this up so badly, particularly as, having played the PC version, I can say it is really quite a good game. Oh well =(

  4. j c says:

    It’s not like they’re charging full-price for the PC version and pretending multiplayer is in there.

    Rather, it’s only $30, which to me seems a perfectly reasonable price to ask for a quality single-player game.

  5. Serondal says:

    Someone obviously crossed the fucking beams on this one.

  6. Persus-9 says:

    Not to mention the fact they haven’t bothered to scale the graphics to support computers with anything that has less than 512Mb of VRAM and that’s still about 35% of steam users. Compare that to Dragon Age: Origins, that will support 128Mb cards or Far Cry 2 that supported 256Mb and it looks like a decision that wouldn’t have been made if the PC version was anything but an afterthought. My diagnosis: this game is suffering from chronic consoleportistis.

    Personally I was already tempted not to buy it on principle. I as excited as everyone else but they can’t have their cake and eat it. They can’t make me wait an arbitrary four months extra compared to PS3 owners and then still expect me to still buy their product.

    Having said that if they spend the next four months doing extra developement work and make the PC version the Ultimate Edition or something and better than the PS3 in more than just the graphics department then I might forgive them.

  7. Schadenfreude says:

    Should also mention that anyone who wants this for his XBox can quite happily import from the States. It’s one of the few 360 games that isn’t region coded; which I see as a not too subtle ‘F**k you’ to Sony’s European exclusivity.

    Dunno what the deal with the multiplayer is but surely if they had it running on XBox 360 it would hardly be much work to port it to PC, even if it meant using Windows Live (Which I would assume works very similarly to XBox Live)?

    Such a clusterfuck.

  8. Miguel says:

    I will add give a 30$ good single player game instead 50$ game with multiplayer nobody uses more than once. If you ask me the PC version is the one to get.

  9. Patrick says:

    No doubt sony will take a leaf from the “Fox entertainment” book of talent management, and use the disasterous PC sales/reviews as proof that it was the right decision.

  10. Persus-9 says:

    @ j c: I wasn’t aware of that, if they release it at the £20 mark over here then that would also go quite some way to regaining my good graces.

    Really I’m not sure why I’m moaning. I’ve got a more than four month backlog of games to play, a 512Mb graphics card and I don’t actually care about multiplayer but it’s the principle of the thing dammit!

  11. SteveHatesYou says:

    I shudder when I think of the mess the developers must have had to go through on this. We’re probably lucky that the thing’s even playable.

  12. JKjoker says:

    it’s Atari, you might as well assume they dropped support on release, at least i have not heard of too many gamebreaking bugs, be thankful about that

    the funny thing is that by delaying it so much in the European market they might as well start preparing a landfill to bury their shame because everyone exited to get it will pirate it or completely forget about it in these 4 months

  13. drewski says:

    Nice thing about PC games – no region coding! Import away!

  14. Paul Moloney says:

    Will anyone under 35 be bothered about this game? I thought Murray would be more well known for “Lost in Translation” among the young uns.

    P.

  15. runcrash says:

    Can’t PC Gamers in Europe just proxy in to D2D and get it?

  16. Ginger Yellow says:

    I went to Play Asia and imported the 360 version this afternoon. I had been planning to get the Wii version, as apparently it’s pretty damn good, but delay and region locking means no sale thank you very much. And no multiplayer on the PC rules that out too. Atari really are the shittest publishers in the world, even with Phil Harrison on board. And to think I used to be an Atari fanboy.

    “In partnership with both Sony Pictures Consumer Products and Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, we have a unique opportunity to add new game products and expand marketing opportunities to reach Ghostbusters fans in Europe.”

    Say what? Why do games companies insist on talking in corporate gobbledegook?

  17. jalf says:

    I don’t think Atari had much choice. They’re basically broke. They couldn’t afford to be at E3, they couldn’t afford to finish developing PC multi, and they had to sell the publishing rights in Europe to Sony.

    Pretty obvious that they had to release now, under these conditions.

    The real wtf is Sony. I mean, do they actually imagine that this will boost their sales on any platform?

  18. LewieP says:

    Sony have to do something with all that money they are overcharging for their consoles. Makes sense to use it to prevent other gamers from playing games.

  19. Saul says:

    Through my eyeglass I can see the biggest fleet of pirates in the history of the world, gathering on the horizon…

  20. Swainy says:

    Wow. Hype up the PC gamers and then slap not only everyone but particularly the Europeans in the face.

    I’ve never pirated a single game in my entire gaming history but now i think i’ll go do just that.

    Fuck you Sony.

  21. Nill says:

    @Paul Moloney:

    Nah, Groundhog Day and Ghostbusters it is, even for us not yet thirty-five. Especially the former. I probably need to watch Lost in Translation though, since I haven’t — thanks for the tip. :-)

    As for this game, I don’t think it ever even entered my radar. I did notice it briefly when it was first announced, but it has been rather quiet since. Plenty of other very exciting games around to steal its thunder though.

  22. Adam says:

    Being a big fan of all things ghostbustery I just got a handy yank to gift me this via steam, and honestly the budget pricepoint here is preferable. I’d rather pay half price and miss out on mp that no one will be playing in a month, and still get to enjoy the supposedly very good singleplayer.

  23. Neil says:

    I had no idea RPS were such graphics whores. And having a cheap, feature-light PC version that actually has the best visuals of any version seems better than no PC version at all.

  24. Redford says:

    Eventually the combined screams of gamers will be too much and multiplayer will be released in a later patch for the PC version, probably after the hype for the other versions calms down.

    Patience, dear prince.

  25. The_B says:

    Yeah, PC gamers can of course get it on import. But seriously – I was quite looking forward to the bloody co-op to be honest. The lack of multiplayer is pretty much a flabbergasting kick in the face for the PC.

    (And also – there’s apparently the same DRM as was on Riddick on the PC version as well. Err… sorry to RPS for bringing up that particular sore spot.)

  26. Adam says:

    @The_B:
    I am hearing (from yarry sources) that the Steam version actually doesn’t have any DRM, I can’t confirm this yet as my copy hasn’t downloaded, but this is what i hear

  27. qrter says:

    So this’ll get pirated up the ying yang, which ofcourse will come as a huge surprise to the publishers.

  28. 678 says:

    Reminds me of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed failure:
    - same “new chapter in the story”, as told by creators.
    - multiplatform release, all versions were mediocre.
    - same PC problems; lack of PC version.

  29. Tom says:

    What a fuck up. If the multiplayer was good this could have been up there with Left 4 Dead i recon. Further proof that Sony still haven’t quite cotton’d on.
    I’ll still buy it though, the single player sounds awesome.

  30. Crescent says:

    I was never planning on buying this game anyways, movie-based games are almost always bad and this release mess shrugs off even the slightest bit of interest I had in this game.

  31. Veotax says:

    Something that needs to be noted is that Sony is hardly the bad guy here. Atari, being the douchebags that they are weren’t planning on releasing the game on any format over here for another four months.
    Sony just snapped up the publishing rights for the Playstation versions. They aren’t impeding the PC/360 release over here, Atari is.

  32. Frosty840 says:

    Any links to support that, Veotax?
    Not disputing your claim, but it’s too early in the day for me to go looking for stuff. Thinking is hard :(

  33. TheSombreroKid says:

    played this on pc last night seems decent but not sure if it’s worth a buy.

    incidently Blizzard are not and never have been a publisher for this game or any other game, except maybe the original warcraft, you’ve succumbed to activitsions clever marketing by calling vivendi blizzard all the time.

  34. Biz says:

    lol threewave
    what happened to them being the multiplayer masters

  35. Wedge says:

    I was wondering why this appeared out of nowhere on Steam for the cheaps…

  36. The Fanciest of Pants says:

    Fustercluck. Good thing I was never particularly excited for this.

  37. Owen says:

    Jesus Sony, you are some seriously bitter and twisted individuals. You’ve lost my sale no matter when you tossers decide to ‘allow’ us to play your game.

  38. frags says:

    I blame poltergeists

  39. Dreamhacker says:

    To much 80′s for me!

  40. Dante says:

    Apparently Atari just don’t bloody release PC versions over here any more. I’ve still yet to find a copy of Riddick in any games store in Birmingham, the steam version is US only too.

  41. Ravenger says:

    It’s not the same DRM as Riddick – it’s securom with 5 activations and a revoke tool, which at least makes it less ‘evil’ than Riddick’s Tages DRM which doesn’t allow revokes.

    I’d buy the Steam version if it were available in the UK at a decent price. I’ve loved Ghostbusters since the film and C64 game came out.

  42. Wisq says:

    Personally, I suspect that the lack of multiplayer on the PC version may have less to do with “PC as an afterthought” and more to do with “we can patch the PC version a lot easier than the console version”.

    Granted, the reason doesn’t make it suck less, but it might make it a bit more understandable if they’re really in financial crisis.

  43. DMJ says:

    Apparently we European PC gamers are to be punished for our insolence.

  44. RC-1290'Dreadnought' says:

    “Which seems to be quite openly saying that they considered the PC version to be the least important, so ditched it.”

    Not necessarily, it could also mean they think it is a lot easier to satisfy the console people.

  45. Dexton says:

    So I guess this leaves EU players with the choice of downloading a pirate copy *now* or waiting 4 months for the only version of Ghostbusters without multiplayer, when online multiplayer is one of the most compelling reasons for a (morally ambiguous) PC gamer to buy the game proper in the first place.

    Atari encouraging piracy of their own game?

  46. MultiVaC says:

    Hey, fuck you too, Threewave. They’re not even making the entire game, just the multiplayer part. Who else gets away with only doing 2/3 of their job? But I’m sure the insult won’t stop here, when the PC version sells like a lead balloon Atari will cite “piracy” as the issue. Sometimes I wonder if these companies just don’t have a clue, or if they’re actively trying to screw things up for some reason.

  47. Super Bladesman says:

    Is it actually any good? It’s hard to believe it could be after these baffling shenanigans.

    One thing’s for sure – I can stick two fingers up at them just as much as they can at PCs. I won’t be getting it, however good/bad it is.

  48. Crispy says:

    Serondal (5th comment) wins the thread.

  49. Premium User Badge

    oceanclub says:

    “Apparently Atari just don’t bloody release PC versions over here any more. I’ve still yet to find a copy of Riddick in any games store in Birmingham, the steam version is US only too.”

    I have Riddick on order now from sendit for over a month, with still no word – supposedly they can’t get it from the supplier. I’ve heard people who’ve ordered online from other sellers also have similar problems.

    So They(tm)’ll whine ’til they’re sick about piracy, but then do absolutely nothing about supply problems like this.

    P.

  50. Howard says:

    @Super Bladesman
    Astonishingly it is really quite decent. Th only problem I haVe found with the PC version is a slight mouse bug where the view whips about to fast sometimes, but that aside its all good fun. Good script and voice acting from the cast, good graphics with a flatly pretty impressive physics engine behind it and the way they have expanded current Ghostbusters cannon to make the actual ghost catching interesting deserves a little respect. All in all it’s definitely worth the low price for a solid, single player, Ghostbusters themed romp