These words may not seem so synonymous with video game publishers, especially given several titles that have recently been released to the ire of many a gamer. As an example, just search “The Force Unleashed II rushed” to find reviewers and fans alike commenting on how the game reeks of poor quality most likely because of deadline pressures dealt to the developers. While we’re not saying outright that LucasArts set an unbelievably short deadline for The Force Unleashed II, we are nodding to a very real occurrence that forces great studios to make horrible games (for another example, search Krome Studios).
One of the biggest publishers in the industry, EA Games, riots against this phenomenon. Amongst comments on work culture and the extinct movie-game sub-industry, president Frank Gibeau gave the most logical explanation on how great games are made: if developers are given more time, they turn out better quality.
How did EA learn this as a company? With a somewhat newer and bolder title - Mirror’s Edge. While this was an exceptional game, we thought it could have been better. Gibeau thought the same.
“What I learned from Mirror’s Edge is that you have to execute,” Gibeau said. “[Y]ou have to spend more time on a game to ensure it’s polished, and you need to have the depth and persistence of an online game. First-person parkour across buildings is fun, but to be blunt, Mirror’s Edge’s execution fell short.” Taking a look back, he wished there was more time spent perfecting the story and massaging a multiplayer aspect into the title.
Now, here is where Gibeau and EA Games does something dramatic and out of the norm. Instead of shying away from new and risky intellectual property (IP) after Mirror’s Edge misses its mark, they spend more time with new IP; they nurture new IP and they use their failures as motivation to carry forward instead of pulling back their pocketbooks and siding entirely with the old and familiar — the very foundation of innovation.
Enter Dead Space. A new take on the survival horror genre, this game represented a shift for EA not only as an investment in new IP but also as a break from the movie-game biz, particularly the James Bond franchise. “Considering the total amount of money we have to spend on those types of James Bond games, and the total amount of man-hours we had to put into them, we thought, hell, let’s work on our own IP. The guys who made James Bond games for us, well yeah, they went on and made Dead Space.”
Like Mirror’s Edge, Dead Space got high marks here at Gamer Limit and for good reason. Dead Space had great presentation and an interesting premise ala Event Horizon meets the later Resident Evil titles done right. Again, with an eye for perfection, Gibeau noted some areas where the title had its drawbacks and assured gamers that the sequel will bare much more quality. “We looked at how to make it a better idea, how do we make the story more engrossing, how do we build Isaac as a character, how do we make this game a success online.”
Not to say it is the perfect publisher; any company the size of behemoth EA is bound to have its flaws. It is also understood that companies do have their deadlines and an accord between time and work has to be struck. However, it is truly refreshing to see the masthead of a company like EA call for developers to take their time with their projects, showing an honest appreciation for quality. The test for this philosophy will definitely come with the release of Dead Space 2.
Are there any games you wish developers would have taken more time on? Comment below.