Jump, dev, jump!

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We should have sympathy for the developer out there. It’s not an easy gig and comes with a lot of pressure – specifically from the publisher who signed you. But we should also give a nod to the publishers that throw lots of money at potential big-hit games – and lose quite a lot when a game wobbles or folds.

So what are we supposed to think when this happens and the developer either just goes on with business as usual? Or perhaps they decide to form a new studio? This seems to be the case with Reto-Moto, coming to the world courtesy of the folks who made Hitman and the disappointing Kane & Lynch.

Granted, who really knows what the deal was and if the people behind IO Interactive are still liable for what was certainly a big loss for Eidos? K&L cost a lot of money (not to mention a decent marketing budget), but it didn’t sell much more than half a million units. Maybe the game failed due to publisher interference. But when I communicated my concerns with Eidos, after playing beta code, staff there admitted that the publisher was concerned about the very things that eventually kept K&L from blockbuster heaven. Unfortunately the developer wouldn’t budge on the suggested changes.

Perhaps this is why the new studio’s CTO said the team was “Fresh from the global success of Hitman.” Kane & Lynch didn’t work and from where I’m sitting that looks mostly like IO’s fault. I could be wrong, but say I’m not. What happens then? Who is liable? Can developers just up and open a new shop, shrugging off the expensive failures of the past?

Hey, that’s not a bad living, but then can we really complain that publishers resemble factory lines? They’re the ones taking the big gambles…

Hmmm, it’s been a while since ‘success’ was in the same sentence as ‘Hitman‘.

Last Updated: April 16, 2008

James

A total movie glutton, nothing is too bad or too obscure to watch, unless it’s something like The Human Centipede. If you enjoyed that, there is something wrong with you. But bless you anyway – even video nasties need love…

  • The disappointing Kane and Lynch? That was a outstanding game!
    This game might not have sold as well as hoped, nevertheless this does not alter that this is an actual work of genius. I personally feel it had a lot to do with the whole gamespot spectacle.

    Evilredzombie’s last blog post..Am I maybe the evilblackzombie?

  • JimBob

    K&L sold more than a million, so it wasn’t a commercial failure by any means.

    Advertising and review scandals aside, it’s also not quite as bad as the haters make out.

    For me, a solid 7/10 game, though the last couple of levels are frustrating and there are control issues that could’ve been sorted out before release (a simple ‘stick to cover’ button would’ve made a lot of people like the game a lot more).

    I see it a lot like the original Hitman: a flawed start to a potentially great franchise. I expect the problems will be ironed out over time.

  • JimBob

    PS, just in case you guys don’t trust VG Chartz’s numbers (which put K&L at 1.6 million copies), here’s another link

    http://www.next-gen.biz/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=8616&Itemid=2

  • Thanks jim I was about to go looking for those numbers. Not a bad number by any means! It says one of two things, either it’s not that bad a game, or paying off websites during Xmas pays off. 😉

    doobiwan’s last blog post..Breaking BS: Microsoft to buy EA?

  • it rocked!

    evilredzombie’s last blog post..Am I maybe the evilblackzombie?

  • James Francis

    Then why does this article put K&L at less than 600k?

    http://www.next-gen.biz/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=9639&Itemid=2&limit=1&limitstart=1

    The million could to total global sales, in which case is still pretty poor. The 600k figure is for North America and Europe. You need to hit around a million in those two markets to claim success. You need to hit a million in the US alone to claim true blockbuster status.

    Thus, K&L performed poorly, especially since you have to split those global sales to accommodate all the different currency values, the varied marketing across the countries, not to mention distributor cuts, which is arguably less lucrative for the publisher than in the territories where they wield more direct control.

  • JimBob

    Since when has a million in global sales for a new franchise, especially mid-tier game like K&L been bad? I don’t think anyone ever imagined that K&L would be trading blows with Halo 3 and CoD4 and SMG in the blockbuster stakes, after all.

  • James Francis

    Well, technically it’s not. Going on VGChartz, COD 4 sold four times as many copies as K&L on the PS3 and five times as well on the 360. The smallest gap is with Super Mario Galaxy, which is six times better than K&L’s total. K&L might have the weight, but it’s not in the same ring.

    But we’re talking about sales. Sure, a million used to be good. Now obviously Eidos is taking the safe route here, as Midway did with Stranglehold, Ubisoft with Far Cry and EA with several new game franchises – a lot of money goes into a pilot project, largely to establish a long-term engine, whether its proprietary or not, thus you cut down drastically on the price-tags of future project.

    Still, that game should still perform. Okay, taking all that into consideration, 1.6 million is not bad. But it’s not great and I wonder what it spells for the fortunes of Eidos, which is struggling at the moment.

    I think it’s a great game – as in, if IO bothered with a cover system more like Uncharted, Gears of War, Vegas, Rogue Trooper, Cabal… instead of sticking to an inferior model, the game could have hit 5 million. That design choice sat with the developer. Since this is a pilot franchise, I’d guess Eidos paid advanced IO royalties and takes the knock for engine development, so in this scenario the publisher gets hurt.

  • Abe

    I also enjoyed it, not the most graphically intense game, but with a solid story line, engaging gameplay and a dificulty level that keeps you peeled, I thought it was a good game!

  • James Francis

    It was. I’m not making a critical judgment here, just a practical one. It’s worth noting that in order to REALLY sell a game, it has to appeal to a crowd larger than the core gamers that are intuitively more patient and engaging with a game. K&L’s problems can be glossed over, but not when you deal with the more impatient mass buying market. I believe the cover system and high difficulty on easy frustrated most people who tried it and hurt the game’s real potential.

  • I was a huge fan of I/O’s Freedom Fighters( Wish they would release nr 2 ) and K/L was build on that game. I realy did not have any problems with teh controls. However with sales like that im pretty sure we will see a K/L 2

    Evilredzombie’s last blog post..Am I maybe the evilblackzombie?

  • how do you guys get the avatar?

    Evilredzombie’s last blog post..Am I maybe the evilblackzombie?

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