The following is part of a series of anonymous feature blogs which have been written by a former member of the sports video games industry who wishes to remain anonymous. We have verified proof this individual is who they say they were and did work at a major publisher.
As I started to settle in and understand my role, it was becoming more and more evident that the things that made sense to me, didn’t necessarily fit into what the company’s expectations were. It was very important to me to provide a voice from the gamers point of view, and I tried to stress that in every meeting, conference call, and ideation session. Sometimes the powers that be were willing to listen, other times my ideas and request just fell on deaf ears. Honestly though, there were some opportunities to offer up new perspectives, and I took full advantage of them in talking to lead developers, marketing, management and basically anyone who would listen about incorporating public desires into certain titles.
At first, the feedback that I received seemed genuine, but if I am being honest, when I saw the execution of the ideas being implemented into certain titles, it felt like coders had heard only half of what I had suggested. Of course, I wasn’t privy to every meeting and to claim I was would be less than the full truth. I can’t explain why certain ideas were carried forward, and other ones were not, other than being told a simple phrase: “We just can’t do it that way.”
There were titles that I saw being developed that I instantly knew were going to fail, and had to idly stand by and watch as millions of dollars were wasted on an IP that would make its way to the bargain bin within two month after release. I also watched one same lead developer get opportunity after opportunity, when it was evident that their ideas and the consumers’ idea of what makes a good title were extremely different. I was amazed at how easily management would eat this garbage up, and couldn’t believe what ideas were deemed good ones, and which ones were passed on when it came time to putting the pen to paper with games.
A look inside of the gaming industry reveals that people making decisions sometimes just make bad ones.
As frustrating as it was, I at least knew that I had contributed in a positive way to some title development, but when you are not a lead developer all you can do is make suggestions and hope for the best. While it is easy to assume that certain ideas couldn’t work and thus, wouldn’t find their way into said titles because of budget constraints, that wasn’t always the case.
As much as game developers try to tell consumers that budget constraints make things impossible, I just did not found that to always be the case. Of course the budget constraints excuse is true some of the time, and other times it’s because of time constraints, or even of hardware limitations.
However, a lot of the times, features are left out because because the people who are making these decisions are simply making bad ones, and sometimes those same decision makers try to cover those mistakes up by throwing even more bad money on top of it.
It’s one thing to watch a company blow millions of dollars with very little regret, the same as you or I would feel about spending money at a fast food restaurant. It is something else to watch them do it, and watch team members getting laid-off and whole divisions closed because of the horrible business practices that were being carried through on a daily basis.
When I joined this industry, I knew that it was on a financial downturn, so layoffs and firings were not out of my expectations. When they are a necessity because the same mistakes are being made over and over, the passion one once had about their job starts to erode and evaporate, and that is what was happening to me at this point.
Stay tuned for part III later this week!