Thursday, February 01, 2007


Got some disappointing news last night: the folks at Sega and Sports Interactive have scrapped my current favorite game.

I mention this, not just because the game itself is so engaging and well-planned, it's to recognize the developers, who have apparently known that this was a definite event for a while now - but still worked extra hours to produce the latest game patch, to leave us all with the best possible product.

Sounds silly, doesn't it - gee, they made the game work, isn't that their job? - but in this case I want to recognize them for it. First, there are plenty of larger, more famous companies notorious for stranding people with buggy, inferior product and simply expecting that they'll deal out 50 more bucks next year for little more than a glorified roster update. To hide this, they toss in cockamamie "features" that add nothing to the experience except aggravation. (I hated the EA:NHL 'player cards' and their pathetic 'career mode' that only lasted ten seasons.)

Second, it isn't their job anymore. They've been working on Sega/SI's other titles for a month or more, but they still pushed themselves for us - and by "us" I mean maybe 8,000 worldwide. That's it.

So, business decision for unpopular, high-quality title to bite the dust. Again, it's a blinding flash of the obvious, right? Well - that brings me to the Rant Section of our little tale. Part of the reason for the sluggish sales has been game piracy. No-talent, cheapskate stooges put up mirror sites to download the demo version (free for half a season of the game); those sites got many more times the downloads of Sega/SI's legit site. Even if the full game hadn't been available, that's a bad sign; if people were planning on buying it they'd have downloaded the demo from Sega/SI in the first place, not a hack site. But the full game is also out there, thanks to Russian and Chi-com hackers whose activities are tacitly approved by their governments in a form of freelance economic combat.

So theft and dishonesty cost us future versions of a fabulous, fun game and the developers all get shuffled to other work - at least they were lucky enough to keep their jobs in this case. And I'm lucky enough to have a special place to let fly at these hacking jive turkeys, once Emily has finished typing. Break out the knobs for this one...

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