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.