Eidos Montreal Boss Quits, Blames Square Mismanagement

By John Walker on July 24th, 2013 at 9:00 am.

More hints of troubled times at Square have appeared, via the resignation of Eidos Montreal’s founder and general manager, Stephane, D’Astous. Describing “irreconcilable differences” to Develop, he let loose with a tirade about a “lack of leadership, lack of courage and the lack of communication”. And he was just getting started.

D’Astous’ initial statement, sent to Develop, read:

“Since last year’s financial short-coming performance of Square Enix Europe, we (HQ London and GM Eidos-Montreal) have had growing and divergent opinions on what needed to be done to correct the situation. The lack of leadership, lack of courage and the lack of communication were so evident, that I wasn’t able to conduct my job correctly. I realised that our differences were irreconcilable, and that the best decision was unfortunately to part ways.”

Polygon then caught up with the man, and found out much more. After a bad financial year, D’Astous claims that execs “almost started to panic” (I’m not sure what that looks like – someone putting their arms above their head and being absolutely ready to wave them about as they scream) and it seems he believes leadership was lacking.

This all may seem odd to an observer – like me – who sees Square releasing a solid list of generally decent games. But the former boss says that Square “has some things to learn about how to sell their games.” Despite names like Tomb Raider, Hitman and Deus Ex in their line-up, none of these proved to be massive successes. And the reaction to this relative failure seems to have pissed D’Astous off rather a lot.

After the financial troubles, and the resignation of president Yoichi Wada, D’Astous suggests that attempts to reorganise and restructure were done with far too much secrecy, and not working in tandem with their studio leads. While he wouldn’t go into the specifics, he did point fingers at Square Enix Europe CEO, Phil Rogers. He then went on to explain that the company is still distinctly divided between Square and Eidos, citing a lack of communication between the Japanese owners and the Western developers. However, after spending months trying to get Square to change its strategies, D’Astous has now given up and left.

And then of course there’s Thief. First rumoured in 2008, and then confirmed in 2009, almost nothing was seen of it for a very long time. And then what was seen hasn’t hugely impressed. Then came the real worries, with strong hints that the demo Adam played wasn’t reflective of the reality of development, and stories of a game in real trouble. D’Astous defends the game, and the team making it, saying that those issues were “a long time ago,” and that some of the negative stories had been “blown out of proportion”.

“The new team and producer has turned the corner and they’re doing a good job. That is one of my biggest regrets, not to be at the head of the studio that would deliver Thief.”

From the outside it just seems perplexing that Square should be in trouble. With titles like Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts and Dragon Quest all reliable non-stop releases from the Japanese side, and huge licenses like Tomb Raider, Deus Ex, Hitman and Just Cause in the West, they should be in prime position to be succeeding. But then their “coming soon” list isn’t too impressive just now, with Deus Ex: HR’s re-release and The Fall coming to Android not exactly inspiring forward bounds, and Thief looking ever-more likely to slip beyond 2014. Final Fantasy XIV and XIII should bring in some cash, but it’s troubling to see the complete lack of new IPs or announced projects for the rest of the big licenses.

D’Astous explains these confusing failings by poor management. And the lack of many interesting titles announced cannot be helping. Which is a damned shame, since Square – and especially Eidos Montreal – have been responsible for braver, more interesting decisions than most. Here’s hoping things start to fall into place pretty soon.

, , .

83 Comments »

  1. Premium User Badge

    RedViv says:

    So I guess he rather leaves because they wouldn’t get rid of the… being… that thinks 3.4 million copies sold of an AAA game in its first month are not success? I can see how the latter might start that spiralling into the weird oh-shit-we-need-to-dishonor-Garrett attitude the newest Thifourf demos suggest.

    • Robslap says:

      It took me an inordinate amount of time to work out “Thifourf”.

    • Cinnamon says:

      Games can be expensive to make. If 3.4 million copies does not make a meaningful profit then the game is not success. If it sells 10 million copies and doesn’t make money then it isn’t a success but I guess that sort of problem is for next gen or later.

      Isn’t there a rumour that at least one next gen console game has 1000+ people working on it? It’s nuts.

      • tnzk says:

        And that is probably the crux of their issue. Was it an editorial on RPS? Because I’m not the only one that has noticed that if you’re selling several million copies AND NOT making a good profit… you need to rethink your strategy.

        To help with any confusion, I want to elaborate on the “games are expensive to make” idea:

        Games are expensive to make, if you’re trying to aim for a large demographic, and therefore have to spend money on expensive production value, marketing, and manpower to stand out on shelves along side other games that also had expensive production, marketing, and manpower in an effort to stand out on shelves along side other games that also…

        It’s a vicious, scary cycle if you have a narrow strategy such as the above. There have been not-so-secret repercussions of this problem. Not all games need to be loud and expensive to succeed, and I think RPS has more than a few entries about these un-blockbustery titles.

        • Premium User Badge

          RedViv says:

          It’s mostly the PR budgets these days, and if they blunder up THAT, as suggested by D’Astous, the developers get dragged down due to an entirely different party.

          And that’s what I was more on about, some genius thinking that this title could easily sell eight million copies. This isn’t Call A Doody. Suggesting such incredible sales for a reboot of a not quite amazingly selling franchise (the last title selling around 2.6 million in the first three months) shows an incredible lack of understanding of the market, of the appropriate marketing budget (which really is the thing makes 200 million bucks not enough), and makes apparent the awful miscommunication within the non-development structure, exactly as D’Astous claims.

          • ohminus says:

            “it’s mostly a PR issue” – the problem IS that it’s mostly a PR issue. The problem in games, or in software in general, has been for a while that they believe that solid marketing can be substituted by a strong PR focus. That works once, maybe twice, but at the end of the line, you’ve p****ed off customers royally and destroyed your credibility.

            Solid marketing would include a market analysis that tells them what number of sales they can expect. And it could tell them roughly what price the market could bear – or what the market would expect for a given price.

            THEN they can see if they can make it happen at that price.

            Suggesting fantasy numbers and then believing that with just enough PR, you are going to achieve them is shooting yourself in the foot, if not in the cranium.

      • Premium User Badge

        RedViv says:

        Thank God for him.

      • The Random One says:

        “Jim Sterling did a good video”

        Ha ha ha ha, good one… almost had me there, you card!

        • Mctittles says:

          Well at least there is someone out there attempting to do a half ass job at actually researching stuff in the game industry. Thank god for Jim, I just wish there were more like him with a bit more knowledge as well. Hundreds of game sites written by casual/non-gamers.

    • Baines says:

      No, D’Astous seemed to have no issue with the sales expectations themselves.

      “We are in a situation that we have great games that could have sold more” — He’s not saying the expectations were too high. He’s saying that the games should have sold more copies than they did.

  2. Premium User Badge

    JR says:

    With THQ’s implosion, Microsoft’s 8 stupidness, and now Square Enix’s “mismanagement,” 2013 is rapidly seeming like the year AAA development caught fire.

    • Premium User Badge

      TheApologist says:

      Yep – this. This is human fallout (and frankly not the most important – see all the jobs lost by ordinary folk in studio closures around the world) from a model of development the economics of which are just wrong-headed.

      If Square Enix can’t make a profit on the sales they have had, the model doesn’t work. If you release four games a year and it only takes one relatively minor underperformance to drag the company into making a loss (see THQ last financial year) the model doesn’t work.

      • Premium User Badge

        DrScuttles says:

        Yeah, it’s an argument I’ve heard before, but it bears repeating: spend less money on a game, design it for fewer people, market accordingly and don’t expect to sell 10 million copies ever. A publisher can knock out an occasional big ‘franchise’ sequel to keep things ticking over smoothly, but don’t make that the norm.
        It can be frowned upon to compare the game and film industries, but can anyone imagine a games industry comprised entirely of Iron Man 3′s, Man of Steels, Star Trek Into Darknesses and Fast & Furious Sixes all year round? That seems to be what publishers want.

        • AngoraFish says:

          But that largely is what the movie business has become. Once upon a time there were indie movies, B movies, and blockbusters. Nowadays there’s only indie movies and blockbusters.

          At the end of the day, the movie production houses have worked out that throwing hundreds of millions of dollars at a movie is a more reliable way of making squillions.

          Of course, the system occasionally looks a little shaky when we see a big budget bomb, but that’s show biz, and consistent across the entertainment sector the economics of the alternative are even worse.

          For better or worse, big budget production values turn people out in droves, even when the reviews are disastrous.

          • Correa says:

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BH0N-kgMUbA

            Ahead of it’s time this show :(

          • Premium User Badge

            DrScuttles says:

            But then we come to the issue of what defines ‘indie’. A quick google search broadly defines indie film as “technically, an indie filmmaking endeavor on a budget of less than $4 million” which is pretty useless; I think the term can be much broader than that. Regardless, outside the blockbuster seasons (where Jaws and Star Wars were traditional summer fare, there window to launch large films like that has admittedly expanded), there’s a wealth of cinema at varying levels of budget, competence and acclaim.
            Fox released A Good Day To Die Hard and The Internship, but they also found it in themselves to release Trance and Stoker.

          • AngoraFish says:

            For what it’s worth, per Wikipedia, Trance budget: $20,000,000, gross after 8 weeks $17,608,288. Stoker budget $12,000,000, gross after 10 weeks $9,356,992.

            Nobody’s argued that there aren’t exceptions, but neither of these films has yet broken even on the back of their cinema releases, which might tend to support the argument that there’s not a lot of money to be had playing in this space. …but maybe the DVD release is going to be the equivalent of a Steam sale?

            Regardless, I’d agree that the $4 million definition is too narrow. These movies are clearly aiming at a niche rather than mass market, and that’s close enough to be the same as ‘indie’ for my purposes.

          • Premium User Badge

            DrScuttles says:

            I’d be amazed if they didn’t break even on home sales eventually. Hell, it Waterworld 15 years but it made its money back eventually. If the ecosystem needs big films like Iron Man 3 to offset the short term losses of wee arty things, then that’s okay by me. But not at the expense of them.
            Anyway I have to admit that I’m not sure how the business side of it all adds up with C20th Fox and Fox Searchlight being technically separate and all that.

          • AngoraFish says:

            I’d be amazed if Tomb Raider, Hitman and Deus Ex didn’t break even eventually. ;-)

          • The Random One says:

            AngoraFish, you are correct, and that is why Hollywood is heading towards a very similar crash. Everyone is going for the calladoody audience and everyone is sinking… except Paradox, whose weird, niche-focused catalogue just might be the only viable publisher business model in the future.

          • TsunamiWombat says:

            Except the way financial incentives work for the Hollywood film industry is wierd and not at all like any other business. If a movie bombs it can be written off on the taxes, thereby INCREASING the profits a studio can make. Films are MADE to bomb, to fill space and reduce profit burden on the films that will succeed.

          • Lev Astov says:

            I don’t know. I pretty much guarantee that spending $1M each on 100 movies from various and wildly varying directors will make way more money than spending $100M on one movie. At least one of those 100 movies is going to be a huge hit and most of them will at least turn some kind of profit.

          • jonahcutter says:

            There are still b-movie equivalents today, but they go directly to dvd. Or increasingly released through the internet.

            They rarely get seen in theaters. And when they do it’s generally a single showing or extremely short run in a small theater that specializes in art, horror and obscure films.

        • Screamer says:

          Whats wrong with Into Darkness? Oh I forgot, it has more than one explosion, doesn’t have subtitles and is in color. So it MUST be shit!

          • Premium User Badge

            DrScuttles says:

            STID was passable entertainment. And I really liked Iron Man 3. My point being, what if those film were all that were put out there?
            And Star Trek 2 had more than 1 explosion, was in colour and was ace.

          • Nick says:

            Nah, it has a shitty plot, some incredibly stupid scenes and AWFUL fight cinematogoraphy. But nice try.

          • Tacroy says:

            There’s so many things wrong with Into Darkness it’s not even funny. It’s like the writers had no idea about the actual size of space, or military procedures.

            Like: After a terrorist attack, the heads of Starfleet meet. In a room. With a huge window. At the top of a building. With absolutely no security, because someone is able to bring a friggin’ gunship to the party.

            Like: Scotty manages to walk in the front door of a top-secret prototype starship fab. Without anyone noticing.

            Like: The top-secret prototype starship and the Enterprise have a fight. In Lunar orbit. Without anyone noticing. While Starfleet is on a war footing.

            Like: After having a fight in Lunar orbit, the Enterprise somehow manages to get caught in Earth’s atmosphere. The Earth is very very far away from the moon – it would have taken them weeks or even months to cross the distance, given how exploded the Enterprise was.

            It completely broke any suspension of disbelief – stuff happened purely because the plot demanded it, not because it made sense or anything like that.

          • Premium User Badge

            Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

            If a movie set in London suddenly had someone getting off the Tube and going to the top of the Empire State Building it would be rightly derided and mocked for its incoherence and inattention to basic detail.

    • Snargelfargen says:

      Square Enix is kind of a special case, as the mismanagement has been going on for well over a decade. Their Japanese studios are famous for having enormously bloated concept art and cg departments that constantly pump out content, never to be used in a game. This is also the studio that released a universally panned mmo… and then invested another two years remaking it (FF XIV). That’s almost a solid decade of work. No telling when they’ll recoup the costs from that fiasco.

      The big budget AAA game model is clearly struggling to survive in today’s market though, but I think that’s the least of SE problems at the moment.

      • Wedge says:

        Hell it all started with Square putting themselves out of business with FF: Spirits Within, which was what led to the Enix merger. You would’ve think they wouldn’t have let those idiots keep running things after that.

  3. tnzk says:

    They had batshit expectations of how much their games should sell. Sleeping Dogs, Hitman, and Tomb Raider all sold really well by any measurement… except Square-Enix’s. It’s true that they have very good games, but after their constant disappointments, it’s as if every one of their titles has to be a GTA or Call of Duty killer at retail.

    It’s stupid, and their learning it the hard way.

    • Premium User Badge

      JR says:

      I’d have to imagine a lot of that deals with profit/loss. Their games might sell twice as good as a competitor, but if the cost was four times as much to make then it’s a loss.

      It wouldn’t surprise me if this was true, especially if Stephane’s complaints here are towards mismanagement.

      • tnzk says:

        Yeah, I know, and I know business people who think that spending big money will guarantee them big results. It almost always fails.

        There was big hype in little old New Zealand about a new local TV production which was using the same technologies that were used to shoot the James Bond movie Skyfall. These guys were spending big (almost) everywhere, hoping for some sort of success that we rarely see.

        It was a bit shit. And it blew a hole in our yearly funding.

        Back to gaming, WoW wasn’t huge because Blizzard simply spent big, they just knew how to make good games. CoD didn’t become a success because Activision threw money at it, it became one because IWard did something right that no one else did back in ’07.

        I pity suits who can’t see why things become successful, but I can understand it somewhat. When you’re up there managing the entire business, things can get a little foggy.

      • Captain Joyless says:

        You have the right idea but what you said is wrong, or, at least, not necessarily true.

        If it costs someone $10 million to make a game, and it generates $30 million in sales, they make a profit. If my game sells twice as well ($60 million) but costs four times as much to make ($40 million)… I still make a profit.

        It may not compare well for investors, but it is not, as you said, “a loss.”

      • ohminus says:

        Those are issues you should figure out BEFORE making the game. What number of sales do I have to achieve to break even? What price can I ask? What will people expect to find in a game achieving those sales numbers at that price? Can I make that game profitably?

  4. Premium User Badge

    Gap Gen says:

    Carrément.

  5. tellrov says:

    Too bad that despite all of this, Thief will come out and get a 8-9/10 IT’S OKAY from most review sites. Even if there were no problems at all I doubt the game would’ve looked much different than what we’ve seen so far. Nothing of what was said in the hands-on article striked me as a result of troubles in the company, but simply more of what’s the norm nowadays. Shame.

  6. Liudeius says:

    They “have to learn some things about how to sell their games?”
    I suppose I never hear as much about Square-Enix games as I do others, but if that means they don’t waste tens of millions on advertising, I don’t see how that’s a bad thing.

    I think the problem is more that they make B-grade AAA games, and actually don’t do too much sequel abuse.
    From what I’ve played and heard about their titles, they always seem to be a bit less polished and well thought out than prior releases or more mainstream franchises (Sleeping Dogs/Just Cause 2 vs GTA, Tombraider vs Uncharted, Hitman Absolution vs Blood Money)

  7. Aether says:

    Well that was D’Astous’.

    Edit: On a more serious note it’s never fun to be ignored by those who are supposed to be ensuring stability and income. This is definitely something that I have experienced personally and it is a completely unacceptable form of treatment.

  8. Post-Internet Syndrome says:

    If developers and publishers just would have the guts to sacrifice just a teensy little bit of that AAA graphic fidelity and instead focus on the game they could probably bring development costs way down. Games have been looking spectacular for several years now, why are they still pushing towards smaller and smaller increments in screen bling when it quite obviously is doing them no good.

    • Premium User Badge

      RedViv says:

      But games must get ever closer to movies despite being inferior in any of the cost-exploding specifics they try to mimic! It’s a scientific law, Cage’s First!

  9. Premium User Badge

    lowprices says:

    I expect we’ll see more big developers/publishers crash and burn over the next couple of years. It seems like AAA games development is becoming increasingly unsustainable.

    EDIT: Reply fail. Was meant to be a reply to Post-Internet Syndrome.

    • Pich says:

      To be fair the AAA games started this gen, and probably will die with it.

      • Premium User Badge

        lowprices says:

        Really? I’d say it started as a regular thing during the ps1 era (though there are probably plenty of examples from before that I’ve missed). I think it’s from around then that you start to get a class of games that have a lot more money poured into them and are expected to bring in a much higher return. I’d say it’s just this gen where AAA stuff has become the sole focus of mainstream publishers, as production costs have gotten so high that B productions that don’t make huge profits aren’t attractive to shareholders.

      • Creeping Death says:

        Would you not call Half-Life 2 or Halo a triple-A game? Both from last gen. Hell, I’d consider Crash Bandicoot 2 and the original Metal Gear Solid triple-A too.

  10. tellrov says:

    Cutting down on marketing costs and generating hype would probably help more with that.

    • KenTWOu says:

      Because when people don’t know about the game they will definitely buy it.

      • tellrov says:

        The ones that matter will, yes.

      • Correa says:

        There’s the internet and youtube to reach to many for next to nothing? And not showing off some shitty CGI or other nonsense.

        Actual in game gameplay and showing what to expect. It’s hardly rocket science to know you’ll get coverage without the glossy spread in some magazine or spending millions on a crappy tv advert.

        • KenTWOu says:

          I admit they obviously didn’t spend money very effectively, they have serious problems explaining their games (btw recent Tomb Raider didn’t have that problem IMO), they spent too much on CGI trailers, but we don’t know the exact amount of people that know about the game for the first time because of them and will buy the game because of them. And actual gameplay costs money. You need to have working build right now, while devs team still tweaking AI and difficulty levels, but you need to show something to the fans, to the journos, to get more coverage. That’s why we have heavily scripted vertical slices. But we still need them, because devs used them even for internal control. So I’m not so sure about ‘next to nothing’.

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        A lot of marketing these days involves some sort of cross-product advertising, whether its tie-ins with the Super Bowl or Mountain Dew or paying Valve to feature your designs in a TF2 promo. That’s the kind of wasteful shit that pushes budgets over the edge, and it only reaches a more unfocused audience when compared to traditional advertising like standard print or storefront banners.

        When it costs a publisher $100-150 million to push their latest game, they’re doing something wrong. To be fair, it’s as much the fault of the advertising firms as it is the pubs.

  11. Megakoresh says:

    This is what you become when you milk your customers or release cash-in iterative franchises like FIFA over and over and manage to sell them to the same dumb people buying the same game over and over again.

    All these companies, all of them, including SE have done that. They did that with FF, and they think they can do it with everything. When you become so bloated that your revenue amount does not fit on the screen in calibri 11, you turn to thinking that “The more money I spend, the more money I get” and also “If I make a game and call it Tomb Raider, people will buy”. That is really clouded vision as a result of these companies being so big they stop taking investment seriously.

    Tomb Raider, although it had pretty much nothing (aside from the main character name) to do with all of the previous Lara Croft games, was a known franchise so they thought “We gonna sell a shitload of copies if we tell everyone that this is a new TR game”. How they are gonna do that? By spamming everything, including buses, metro stations, malls public transport stops, streets, radio and TV with “LOOK WE MADE A NEW TR GAME!!!”.

    No. You are trying to sell to HARDCORE gamers here. We are not some dumb 10 year olds or casual gamers who can buy things for a name or buy the same game every year. We know the value of the game. We know what matters.

    I didn’t buy Human Revolution because it was a Deus Ex game. I bought it because it was an amazing non-linear game with one of the best level designs in history, great characters, story and atmosphere.
    I didn’t buy it because it was built on a modded Quake engine or because it was in partnership with AMD to support some super wide screen feature I don’t give a shit about.

    If they knew a little bit about their audience and the actual games they are selling, they would have communicated the things which actually matter for that audience.

    • The Random One says:

      Human Resources would’ve worked better if it wasn’t Deus Ex. The conspiracy bits are shoved in at the end. There, I said it.

    • vinny_v86 says:

      I would contend that they’re NOT selling to what you term ‘hardcore’ gamers, simply because that’s not a large enough demographic on which to make the kind of revenue that they’ve forecasted.

      The ‘hardcore’ (or as I prefer, enthusiast or well informed market) will take care of itself and buy what it wants. The real money comes from selling to the every day, or even ‘casual’ gamer. That’s where the swing votes are.

      • Megakoresh says:

        SE sales figures seems to largely disagree with your assessment.

        • doozer667 says:

          “SE sales figures seems to largely disagree with your assessment.”

          Because you have an accurate demographic analysis of their sales data and know what portion of their purchases came from “hard core” gamers?

          There’s no denying that their marketing and sales expectations have been absurd but the rest of what you wrote is the same lie that we’ve all been telling ourselves to feel good for years. “Hard core” gamers are not the majority of the consumers in the gaming sphere whether you want to believe it or not.

      • Misnomer says:

        Everything I have seen says that ignoring the hardcore gamers is actually the way to go if you are trying to make a AAA game. They will purchase it anyway, moan later, but purchase it anyway. Internet whining and sales don’t actually correlate (there is a nice Battlefield Heroes presentation about this).

        If you are an indie game, you should really pander to the hardcore or your community because you won’t be able to draw the masses most likely (Minecraft obviously different). Therefore you need the hardcore base. If you are SE and you have franchises, you know the bases will show up regardless so you just need to bring in more casuals.

        You would think that hardcore gamers would love the big advertising budgets. Those budgets mean that they aren’t relying on “watered down” gameplay to sell the game as much. They are hoping that spamming the advertisements will take the place of a couple million friends telling friends about a cool game.

        SE seems to be making games that hardcore gamers are liking, but somehow they get less success than 2K games (who I see as in a very similar market space). That reeks of mismanagement and not this gamer fallacy of “great gameplay = great sales.”

        • elsewhere says:

          i like this comment. there was shit flying at irrational prior to bioshock infinite’s release, but the general internet didn’t take this as some harbinger of mediocrity like it has with thief.

        • ohminus says:

          “You would think that hardcore gamers would love the big advertising budgets. Those budgets mean that they aren’t relying on “watered down” gameplay to sell the game as much. They are hoping that spamming the advertisements will take the place of a couple million friends telling friends about a cool game.”

          Hardly. Hardcore gamers already know about the games in development. Throwing big advertisement budgets at them is nonsense.

          Quite the contrary: Big advertisement budgets suggests that the emphasis in spending is on hype rather than substance – or at least finding out what people want.

      • Sparkasaurusmex says:

        But the “hardcore” set up the feeling of word of mouth. Let us down and the casual gamers will end up hearing that Deus Ex has stupid boss battles, Tomb Raider isn’t Tomb Raider, and Hitman is just silly. They are bad games. Yes that is subjective, but if you haven’t played them that is overwhelming what you will hear. So Mr. Casual goes to buy a game, remembers the negative talk about Square Enix games and does not buy them based on the trickled down views of the “hardcore.”

        • Misnomer says:

          That is true to a point. No one actually cares what the hardcore say about a Call of Duty or Halo game. Probably don’t care what someone says about a Final Fantasy game. It is all about scale of the audience. Tomb Raider is arguably a well known enough franchise that it should be able to overcome that area where hardcore word of mouth dominates.

          As the post above points out, Bioshock Infinite had plenty of detractors and hardcore were divided, but it still did well. Far Cry 3 is another example. Many of the games coming out of SE are of comparable quality, but either mismanagement of the brand or goodness knows what in the business side of things is preventing these games from becoming massive successes for SE. This ex-employee rant may shed some light on it.

          • Sparkasaurusmex says:

            Ah but wasn’t it the Call of Duty developer that went to redit to find out why they were spreading bad word of mouth? (the famous “dinosaurs” thread)

          • daemonofdecay says:

            Mismanagement is the key here. A good or mediocre game, with a reasonable budget, would be a fairly decent investment in this day and age – the digital medium helps to reduce physical costs, so as long as you are not grossly overspending on the games development or you completely misjudge the market, you have a good chance at making a profit.

            But that is only true as long as management is competent. Bureaucracy can cause exponential increases in costs by demanding changes and slowing development down, which costs money. The reason why you see many rushed games is because a game that is rushed can still make some money back – if you have to scrap what you have and start again, its a total loss.

            So if SE is as mismanaged and afflicted with communication problems as this man claims, you could see other costs that aren’t readily apparent sucking up profits. Some of the smallest changes have huge consequences. Like anything, having redundant or confusing layers of leadership can cripple a company by slowing development down and increasing costs beyond what is expected.

    • MacTheGeek says:

      Calibri 11 is for hipsters. Arial 10 forever!!

  12. JackShandy says:

    What does this mean for Eidos Montreal, and the Deus Ex franchise? Does anyone know what’s happening with that team now?

  13. Tei says:

    I think the movie industry gets money from the long tail, because a movie that is 6 years old is still “playable”, while a game that is 6 years old will almost always have lowpoly graphics and large usability problems. This is not a problem that the industry can fix, but is a problem that will fix itself wen the “race for realism” is dead-dead.

    The movie industry sell toys and other stuff, and the game industry don’t do that (with the exception of supermegahits like Angry Birds). Part of the problem is that politicians and journalist has been making money selling moral panic, destroying the image of videogames. This is another problem that the industry can’t fix, because these people (politicians and journalist) have more power than the industry, but I think is another problem that will fix itself.

    So I think If publishers can stay alive a few more years, things will get better for them.

    - Avoid Microsoft technologies. Use standards. Think futureproff.
    - Make games, not hits. Make games people will want to play in 5 years.
    - Survive long enough to build a long tail that one day can sustain you in periods between releases.

    But I can be horrible wrong, and it will be very sad.

    • KenTWOu says:

      - Make games, not hits. Make games people will want to play in 5 years.

      I don’t know how but make moddable games or games with at least basic user generated content, with simple map editors like Far Cry 3/Portal 2.

  14. Lev Astov says:

    Sounds like a crushing bureaucracy at Square. I’m glad D’Astous called them on it and left. They won’t change unless their CEO wises up and starts beating some sense into upper management.

  15. jonahcutter says:

    In my fantasies, they sell off the Hitman and Tomb Raider franchises to someone who wants to make smaller-budgeted, but actual Hitman and Tomb Raider games.

    Throw Thief in there with that.

    They did well with DXHR, because while not exactly the same as earlier entries, they kept the same basic structure, gameplay and atmosphere, while adding depth (that wasn’t just more ways to kill baddies). DXHR also had more room to be different being a significantly earlier (in the games’ timeline) prequel with a different protagonist.

    Hitman: Absolution, Tomb Raider and seemingly Thief are unpleasant marketing-based mutations of previous franchises known for their distinct gameplay and characters. They were built with unwelcome “re-interpretations” that required bloated budgets that then demand unrealistic sales.

    The developer passion and visions that drove the original successes gets lost in chasing blockbuster payoffs. The games sell millions but are still financially unsuccessful. And from a gameplay/game universe/character perspective are amongst the worst entries of their respective series.

  16. Sparkasaurusmex says:

    You know why they can’t sell big numbers of Tomb Raider or Hitman? Because they didn’t make a tomb raider or hitman game.

    • jonahcutter says:

      They did sell big numbers though. Just not ridiculously huge, unrealistic numbers.

      Unfortunately for their bottom line, they based their expenditures on the latter. And while doing it, they marketed their way right into arguably the two worst entries of each series.

    • noodlecake says:

      Well Tomb Raider was a marked improvement over the old ones. Just very dry. Too too dry. I wasn’t a fan but I liked it more than the previous games.

  17. rustybroomhandle says:

    Tell me more about this “Just Cause in the West” game of which you speak.

  18. Strangerator says:

    I wish they would have expounded on the “lack of courage” part, I wonder if that is a comment on the “mainstreaming” of Thief?

  19. bill says:

    There was always going to be a big disconnect between square in Japan and Eidos in the west.
    The games market is totally different in Japan, the media marketplace is totally different, consumer expectations are totally different, and management style and structures are totally different.

    I think it’s good that a few Japanese studios are starting to look outside japan (they’re being forced to by the market situation), but I’d guess they are going in almost blind, so there are likely to be a lot of hiccups along the way.