Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Exclusivity Isn't Always What It's Cracked Up to Be

Sometimes, honouring your agreements is more painful than expected.

Like I said yesterday, I don't want to keep harping on Microsoft as the bad guy ... it just so happens that they are it in this story, to an extent, but bearing that in mind I wouldn't be surprised if other places could be swapped in and work just as well. With that having been said.

If you run in RTS circles then the title Skulls of the Shogun may ring a bell. It's a recent but very well received RTS that has you playing as an undead commander controlling armies in an attempt to become the shogun of the underworld. Very recently the game has been announced for Steam, and the reason for this way that until now the game had an exclusivity deal with Microsoft, and as such only appeared on Xbox 360, Windows phones and tablets, and Windows 8 computers.

Apparently though, the deal is something that the developer, Borut Pfeifer, regrets making. The quote “I personally would like to go back in time and kick myself in the balls. I’d just like to have that year and a half of my life back.” springs to mind as somewhat definitive proof of that regret. But it also impels the question: what were the issues?

From looking over the article the two largest points of contention came down to funding and just what sort of exclusivity. The second is explained by the fact that regardless of whether or not it's actually good or not (I'm not getting in on that debate, by the way) Windows 8 was not as strong of a seller as Microsoft had anticipated, nor where their iPad alternatives. Perhaps in part because of those issues, the money that Microsoft had promised to help the game along was very late in coming.

“We thought ‘well, it’s Microsoft, they have bankroll, they can afford this stuff.’ But because of their processes seeming so fucked up, they couldn’t actually do that. Even though they were partially funding the game to completion, we had to take a loan to cover the fact that they hadn’t yet paid us what they were supposed to.”

It seems a rather odd thing, but perhaps it stands as an important lesson to learn; no matter who you have behind you as a backer, you may end up having to rely on yourself and only yourself. It does sort of bring up the question then of "why bother getting a backer in the first place?" and that's something that Pfeifer may still be asking himself now.

Hate is probably a strong word to use regarding the developer, and I think that even Pfeifer would not go that far, however, when he has no problem making a statement like, “When people call Microsoft ‘evil’, while I don’t want to defend them, it’s kind of an undeserved compliment. To be evil, you have to have vision, you have to have communication, execution… None of those are traits are things that I would ascribe to Microsoft Studios.”

You can pretty much tell that he's not exactly too keen on them either. I find it paradoxically hard and easy to believe that a company as big as Microsoft has the kinds of problems that he's attributing to them, but if recent events regarding their PR people saying completely different things about the Xbox One are taken into account, suddenly the entire thing becomes a lot more feasible.

I get the feeling that Pfeifer might have been displeased with any exclusivity deal, although then again the way Microsoft conducted itself probably didn't help matters very much at any rate. Still, with the past behind him perhaps he and the rest of the team can move on to greener pastures.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.