Shoot From the Lip: Into the Fray
If there’s anything that 2007 taught me, it’s that you can easily start a blog but you’ll be struggling within weeks to try and update it. I suppose the greatest thing about a weblog is not having a deadline, so you can post whenever you want or simply throw the entire idea away without consequence. Of course, no deadlines creates laziness, but I’ve never been one for them. In fact it’s put me off the idea of writing a column, or series of articles because I’m not organised as much as others. I missed the last posting date for Australia before Christmas, so instead of spreading the festive cheer I found myself making an expensive phone-call to the other side of the world to apologise for returning the kind gesture of a Christmas card, blaming my job for forgetting. I work in a shop, shops get busy at Christmas, you work a lot. It’s a fool-proof white lie that I have used many times in my short but colourful life.
I’ve read many articles on the self-submission news site Digg from “analysts” (read: bloggers) who seem to think that once a game misses its Christmas deadline the developers may as well shut up shop and forget about the rest of the project. It seems to be a common theme that Christmas is the only time of a year that a game will sell, probably because of the gift potential, and anything that slips will either be delayed until the following year or face poor sales. But I cry foul to that notion, for 2008 will see perhaps the biggest post-festive season release calendar in, well, history.
The Xbox 360 has seen a plethora of titles delayed since the newly revamped E3 back in the spring, with the blockbuster Grand Theft Auto series being the most high profile Christmas absentee. Then there’s Criteron’s Burnout Paradise, which seemed to slip off the radar all together, Rockstar’s Bully and the long awaited shock-fest Alan Wake. Then you have the European release of Rock Band along with World in Conflict, Dark Sector, the previously Sony exclusive Devil May Cry 4 and long awaited sequel to the senseless Mercenaries. I’m starting to forget about the hype surrounding Halo 3 with all these releases.
It isn’t just these so-called industry analysts that are at fault, some publishers believe we all only have money in our wallets during one period of the year. Creative developer Harvey Smith on Blacksite: Area 51 described the process before release as “so ****ed up” , after which the title was released in what many see as Midway trying to make a quick buck. Smith told many press sites that he believed in “personal accountability” rather than bite the hand that feeds him as he went on with his rant. The game’s status went from alpha to final so quickly that there wasn’t any time for polishing, which Smith labelled as “completely reprehensible”. It’s not often that a prominent member of a developer will come out and agree with critics on low review scores. Pro Evolution Soccer 2008 was another game that could have done with a few more months in development, with an online mode that is still very poorly executed across all available platforms.
We often lambast companies for letting titles slip back a few months, but after the hectic year of 2007 which saw the Halo trilogy wrapped up, the Call Of Duty franchise revamped and a smattering of new IPs, slipping deadlines looks set to make 2008 a year-round treat.