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05-05-2012, 03:25 PM #1
Another tale of publisher abuse: Activision, EA, Lucasarts vs Free Radical
Free Radical vs. the Monsters
Activision suddenly cutting studios and people:
Meanwhile, Second Sight had finally entered full production. The project had changed hands from Eidos to Activision, and Free Radical were about to taste business Bobby Kotick style.
They decided they didn't like UK development anymore, they didn't like external development anymore, and they didn't like developer-owned IP anymore. Bad for us, because we ticked every box! On that day I think they canned ten projects and in the process put some companies out of business.
After TimeSplitters 2 EA had come sniffing around, and Free Radical was ready to listen. "EA Partners was this part of EA that was involved with third-party things," says Doak. "It was a bit like being groomed, you know. Here's all these friendly avuncular people that will give you all the love and attention you need to get your game out, and then after a while they go away and all the bad guys come around and it's like you're in borstal. Getting held down, beaten around the head with a cue ball in a sock."
The publisher demanded Future Perfect have a strong lead character in order that it appeal to the US market. "EA turned up with this stuff that was supposed to help us," says Doak. "And it was just big boards with pictures of Vin Diesel on them. Wesley Snipes was on one in his Blade outfit."
LucasArts began to press hard on other, less quantifiable, issues. "Stalling tactics," says Graeme Norgate. "If a publisher wants to find something that is wrong with a milestone, it's very easy for them to do so as there are so many grey areas within a deliverable. If the contract says, 'Graphics for level X to be release quality,' who can say what's release quality? And there you have it."
"LucasArts hadn't paid us for six months," says Norgate "and were refusing to pass a milestone so we would limp along until the money finally ran out.
05-05-2012, 04:14 PM #2
I read the full interview.
They all did a part on their downfall, but LucasArts just... my god, there are no words for what they did, bastards. I wasn't big on TimeSplitters myself, it felt like an "ok" shooter to me, but noone deserves that kind of treatment.
05-05-2012, 05:45 PM #3
That's just. Eugh.
You hear about these things happening, good dev teams going under, but to see it so clearly mapped out and the kind of grinding, crushing inevitability of it in the face of large publishers is just depressing.
Another notch on the "British development teams wrecked by large North American publishers list".
That list is depressingly long...
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05-05-2012, 06:08 PM #4
LOL @ "You don't seem to realise that I made Goldeneye."
A surprisingly entertaining interview actually. Which isn't to understate the tragedy and injustice of it all:
"What we found out in 2008 is that your contract is only worth as much as how far you can pursue it in court," says Steve Ellis. "Say the contract is, 'If publisher wants out, they have to pay X million pounds to developer.' Well, what if they don't? What are you going to do about it?"
The pressure on David Doak was unimaginable. "My role at Free Radical meant that I was simultaneously involved in these unpleasant 'high level' discussions with psychopaths who wanted to destroy us, and then the next day sitting with our dev staff at their desks trying to boost people's morale. Helping them to pass milestones that I knew would subsequently be manipulated to cause them to fail. It was the most depressing and pointless thing that I have ever been involved in. The dream job which I once loved had become a nightmarish torture."
"I found it impossible to reconcile that situation in my head and I had a nervous breakdown. I had to stop and take time off for the sake of myself and my family - ultimately I left the company I founded feeling like I had failed it."
Last edited by Rii; 05-05-2012 at 06:27 PM.
05-05-2012, 06:13 PM #5
- Join Date
- Feb 2012
- Stockton-on-Tees, UK
It's sometimes annoying that we need publishers.Irrelevant on further examination of the rest of the thread.