May 18, 2005

Derek Smart's baaaaack...

Derek Smart, developer of one of only two games I have ever returned to the store (the second being "Shrek" for the Xbox), is back in the news. It seems there is yet another publisher he can't get along with.

I'm going to posit a few potential hangups that 3000AD may have had with DreamCatcher. I may be right, I may be wrong, who knows?

1) DreamCatcher signed off on the gold master for UC:AWA back on 4/15, but decided to hold the product for a better launch window. It sucks when it happens, but it does happen in this industry. I've seen it several times where a product is finished and just sitting in the wings waiting for the proper launch window. Simulation games generally sell best in late August through early October when parents pick up games for themselves after sending their kids to school.

2) 3000AD signed off on the gold master, but DreamCatcher didn't. This also happens quite often. It's very possible that DC found a metric shit-ton of bugs that they didn't want to have to support. Technical support is expensive. A single support call back at Microsoft Game Studios on Golf 2001 would completely wipe out the profit of two sales. That's why publisher QA has to be a bunch of hard-asses...if they weren't, support costs would eat everyone's lunch.

3) The gold master may have been approved, but contractual issues stopped production and distribution of the title. These issues probably ranged from royalty payment levels to payment periods to marketing commitments. Marketing probably played the biggest part in this, as I wasn't aware that another 3000AD title was coming out. DC was probably doing the smart thing and waiting for Smart & Co. to finish the product before starting to market it so that they wouldn't have three years of "Derek Smart will make you his bitch" ads before the release of the add-on pack.

Well, I'm glad I don't work for the man.

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