Welcome to Beyond Co-Op, a weekly piece that talks about industry stories that may or may not be related to co-op gaming.
The stories for this week:
- Rockstar Under Siege?
- New Assassin's Creed Game This Year?
- Gran Turismo 5 Delayed in Japan
- December NPD Numbers...Nintendo Wins Handily
- Dark Void Lone Major Release This Week
Rockstar Under Siege?
Probably the biggest news this week are the myriad of accusations and some surprising truths about Rockstar from its sub-divisions. To start off the week there was a letter posted on Gamasutra from purportedly a group of wives from the Rockstar San Diego studio talking about the awful conditions their husbands have been living through during the development of the upcoming Red Dead Redemption game. Constant crunch time (working 6 or 7 days a week at 12+ hours a day), no cost of living raises and other things were raised. Now, crunch time happens with a lot of developers, but often it isn’t a sustained crunch time that gives the workers no off time. In regards to Rockstar San Diego it seems the workers are being worked to the bone and it may be affecting Red Dead Redemption as a product.
Then Joystiq and MTV Multiplayer looked more into the situation. Joystiq was contacted by a former San Diego worker who said the surprising truth that the people behind Midnight Club: Los Angeles were canned or didn’t join the Red Dead Redemption group after the game shipped. The source went further to state that there would probably be no more Midnight Club games coming out. The interesting this is that IP is Rockstar’s #2 moneymaker behind Grand Theft Auto. With the workers not taking up offers to join the Red Dead Redemption crew, this also points to working condition problems and may point to the game itself being in trouble of not being the AAA game it could be.
MTV Multiplayer talked to a former Rockstar New York (basically Rockstar headquarters) worker who stated that the Rockstar San Diego Wives’ Letter was pretty much true and that the New York office was basically like the Eye of Sauron from Lord of the Rings. They would put all their effort into getting the closest high-profile game out and once that is out they thrust all their effort into the next high-profile game. The problem is that they have ignored the other projects for months (or even years in Red Dead Redemption’s case it seems) with no meetings or milestone updates. They would then demand things to be changed and San Diego would have to drop whatever they were working on in order to achieve those demands. It’s a good connection as to why Red Dead Redemption has been delayed to April this year. Sad fact is it may be delayed even more.
If that wasn’t enough, later on in the week a former employee at Rockstar Vancouver contacted Joystiq (who has an open call for any Rockstar-related person to contact them for more info) saying Vancouver was having the same problems that San Diego was having with working conditions. Vancouver is working on Max Payne 3 which was also delayed from its original Fall 2009 release to a late 2010 release. The ex-worker said the last milestone month was August 2010 and that they recently started re-writing the game for the purported third time. With re-writing chances are content has to be changed as well and the ex-worker guesses they would have to have the content done by April/May in order to reach the August 2010 supposed release.
Rockstar did react saying that the pay and health benefits have not changed and that they take the complaints seriously. Also, a source from inside Rockstar had this to say about Red Dead Redemption: “It will take 5 million sales at full price to recoup the development costs of Red Dead. The good news is they [Rockstar] are not expecting to make money with Red Dead Redemption. At this point, that project is just supposed to prove that the San Diego studio can make a great quality AAA title.”
Now I tend to read between the lines with a quote like that. With that in mind I think that the game may not be the AAA title they want and San Diego could be closed after the release of the game. One thing is for sure, Rockstar New York or Take Two needs to take a long and hard look at the management dynamic inside of Rockstar or a once powerful company is going to crumble very quickly.
Source: Many different ones highlighted in story
New Assassin's Creed Game This Year?
From Ubisoft’s financial release this year some things came out. First one was that I Am Alive has been delayed to 2011 it seems. The other thing is that there is a new Assassin’s Creed game coming out that will star Ezio and include multiplayer in it. No word whether it will be AC3 or a different type of naming, but this is sounding like a full game done by the same group that did AC2. This is in addition to the DLC coming up in the next couple months to fill in the missing Sequences. I would love to hear more about this and whether it is a full release or more of an expansion to the last full game.
Source: Colony of Gamers
Gran Turismo 5 Delayed in Japan
Gran Turismo 5 was coming out in Japan in March, but it has been delayed. No word on why it was delayed and they are saying it won’t affect the European and American release date…which hasn’t been announced yet. Sony Japan had planned on a new PS3 bundle with the release of GT5, but those plans are most likely on hold.
Source: Colony of Gamers
December NPD Numbers...Nintendo Wins Handily
Nintendo dominated the NPD in both hardware and software in December. They recorded the largest selling month with 3.81 million Wiis sold in the month. The DS/DSi sold 3.31 million as well. The PS3 narrowly beat out the 360 with 1.36 million sold to 1.31 million. The biggest loser was probably the PSP with only 654,700 units sold.
On the software front Nintendo dominated again. New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Co-Optimus review) sold 2.82 million copies in the month. Nintendo took 6 of the top 10 spots including an instance of Mario and Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story on the DS at #10 with 656,700 copies sold (2k more than PSP’s sold). Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (on both 360 and PS3) as well as Left 4 Dead 2 and Assassin’s Creed II (360) were in the top 10. It was a good month for Nintendo, no doubt about that.
Dark Void Lone Major Release This Week
Another week where a lone game gets to succeed or fail on its own. This week it is Capcom’s delayed Dark Void starring the vocal magic of Nolan North. I wasn’t very impressed by the demo, but who knows maybe the game will be good. It looked so promising when first seen and it probably should have not had so many delays, but what can you do. Next week we move into the “busy” early season of the year.