Gamer Hate

Belligerently lacking in remorse.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Things Are Changing!
Why Bad Game Companies Survive For So Long

Sometimes you have to wonder. How can an incredibly shitty business continue to survive when everyone in the world knows that they are destined to continually crank out failure after failure? Is it their business savvy that allows them to survive? Their huge stockpiling of cash from old successes? Their amazing ability to keep talented individuals that can move a project forward?

No, it is none of those things because they do not have any of them. They’re typically financially crippled, incompetent when it comes to business and have no ability to recognize a talented individual, let alone keep them interested enough to stay for the entirety of one of their miserable projects. No, indeed, the one thing they do have is an ability to promise more than they can deliver and then work their employees to death trying to get close to that promise.

Yes, these companies are fueled by dreams (or really nightmares) of being able to produce a quality title with an extremely limited budget and in a ridiculously short amount of time. They constantly and consistently work their employees until they’re red in the face angry and most who have any sense of what is right and wrong in the world will up and quit. Many don’t, and they end up perpetuating the cycle continuously until they are burned out and quit the industry altogether.

You see, the reason that these companies that absolutely suck at making games are able to continually survive is because of us. By us I mean developers. The game designers, the artists, the programmers that make up the life’s blood of a game company have been propping up and operating these monumental shit golems for many years. And for what? A paycheck… Is any amount of money worth staying at work 12 hours a day for weeks on end just to release a product that’s crappy because the company that is slave driving you can’t understand the difference between a good and bad game and only cares about meeting some stupid milestone requirement so they get their money? If you answered yes to that, then you shouldn’t be in the game industry. There are many other fields of work that will reward you much better for putting in that kind of effort into something you don’t really believe in.

So how do these shitty companies keep getting deals to make new games? They should be long dead given their track record so far, right? Yet somehow, they score new deals with slack jawed publishers at least once a year.

Well they’ve got quite the assortment of tricks and tactics to fool these poor unsuspecting publishers into giving them another deal. Let me go over them one at a time for you.

1. A fancy slogan for no longer sucking!

That is to say, they adopt some new program that they say they’re going to follow and they trick everyone into believing this will somehow miraculously solve all of their past problems and allow them to release an awesome game as opposed to the crap they just shat into a box a few months ago. The best example of this is Foundation 9’s TQI, or Total Quality Initiative. You might be surprised to know that TQI is something they came up with in the 70s. The primary principle behind the TQI is that the quality of the product is inherently linked to the motivation of the employees making the product. If they are motivated and allowed to make a good product, it will have quality (yes, this is a slight oversimplification).

The problem is that absolutely nothing has changed at any of the Foundation 9 companies that involves TQI. It was merely a publicity stunt to make publishers THINK that things are changing for the better. In fact, things have never been worse for the employees as raises have been stunted across the board and the general impression is that the company wants to bleed out people so they can hire cheaper alternatives. Yet somehow they continue to land publishers. Are these publishers so stupid that they were tricked by the Total Qualitive Initiative bullshit spewed by Richard Hare? Perhaps they were, but they won’t be for long, so these crappy companies reach back into their bag of tricks and pull out…

2. The Name Change!

Recently Shiny and The Collective merged to form one company. Realizing that both companies now have a long sordid history of crapping into boxes and putting it onto store shelves (see Golden Compass, Da Vinci Code, Mark Ecko’s Getting Up, etc) they decided to pretend to make it a whole new company. Now it’s called Double Helix, but guess what. NOTHING HAS CHANGED! It’s the same people, the same bad direction, the same poor business choices… Literally the only thing that has changed is the name. They’ve pulled the toothless stinky crack whore (who has aborted more than her fair share of fetuses) off the street, named her Lexus and are now attempting to pimp her as some sort of virginal Goddess that has done no wrong.

Sorry folks, but you can name your shitty company whatever you want. It’s still a shitty company.

3. The Large Employee Pool!

Misrepresentation is a common tactic as we can see from their other tricks, but this one is probably the most devious. When a publisher brings their game to the table, they want to know that they’re going to have a large amount of talented people working on it. So when the publisher asks how many people will be working on a project these shitty companies bring out their whole roster of developers and make it seem like every single person at the company will be making their game. The sad truth is, they’ve probably (through more trickery) already got 1 to 3 other projects already in the works. That pool of developers is going to be divided amongst those titles.

Does the shitty game company tell this to the publisher? HELLLLLLLS TO THE NO!! They let them think that everyone will be on their project, so when the publisher asks for something ridiculous for the 3 month milestone, what is the game company going to do? They HAVE to deliver it or they have to admit that they lied about how many people were on the project. So the publisher is expecting a pool of 100 people on their game when in fact it’s more like 30 and the frustration builds as the shitty game company now works those poor 30 people straight into early graves because they won’t admit they lied to the publisher. Fucking evil…

4. Make promises they can’t keep to employees!

This is probably the most insidious part of these shitty companies. After a long and grueling project you finally decide that you’re going to get the hell out of dodge and go to a company that actually gives a crap about its employees. Yet all of a sudden you start hearing things about the next project. They’re totally going to do something awesome and make a real quality product (of course they’ve used the three methods above to score this project so it’s destined to fail). But you stay and listen, and they promise you other things. They’re not going to make you work overtime. Everyone is going to get a raise and comp time equal to the actual hours they’ve put in. They’re getting a water fountain that dispenses Mountain Dew!!!

Well they somehow manage to snag the project, but guess what. They promised something they couldn’t deliver so you’re going to spend the next grueling 12 weeks cranking on a milestone that will be nowhere near what it needs to be to live up to what they told the publisher. You’re not getting a raise because they’re worried about this milestone and possibly having to lay people off, and hell, if you quit they can just hire a junior out of a design college to replace you for 1/3rd of the price (of course they need you to quit so they don’t have to pay severance). They also need to get this project out ASAP, so you can’t even use the paltry 5 minutes on the hour comp time they did give you. You have no choice but to grit your teeth, bare down and try to forget about the Mountain Dew Fountain that never seemed to materialize.

I liken creating a game to the birthing process. Squirting out a baby is a mind numbingly horrible experience for everyone involved. The first year of taking care of that little monster is filled with shit (literally), 2 hour sleep cycles, and an endless amount of screeching. Yet somehow, after the first year and a half, people start talking about having another baby… So developing a game at a shitty company is a lot like that, except that you attempt to disown the poor turd baby you just crapped out and run from the mother publisher as fast as you can while you hide your face in shame.

But I digress…

I realize of course that these companies are just trying to survive. I just wish they’d go about it in a more honest way. You can change your name every week but that won’t improve your games. You can spout off about Quality until you’re blue in the face, but if you don’t actually change your business model or the way you treat your employees, your products can only get worse. You can lie to publishers as much as you like, but… Well, actually you’ll get money for it so I guess that works, but EVENTUALLY you will run out of publishers and because your top business management guys never change, they will recognize your stupid face the next time you try to sell them on a product.

As to the people who work at those companies. You’re kind of like the battered women we see on tv. “But he loves me!” Wake the fuck up people. You CAN do better. Just because you’ve worked there for some amount of years doesn’t mean you owe them anything. They are a corporate entity, and if it suits their business interests, they will put you over a barrel and ass fuck you until you bleed out.

Don’t let them ass rape you anymore, get a job at a good game company. You deserve it after what they’ve put you through. 😉

posted by CommanderHate at 2:05 pm  


  1. Subtle and understated as always Commander.

    Comment by Blackshirt — May 2, 2008 @ 3:05 pm

  2. I feel like I’m seeing puzzle pieces match together.

    It all makes sense now!!!

    Comment by Kohyunu — May 2, 2008 @ 3:50 pm

  3. Right on, I worked for Amaze up in Seattle, otherwise known as “Lets promote the fucking mormons before we promote the actual talent”.

    Comment by BlackAngelsDeathSong — May 2, 2008 @ 5:41 pm

  4. Wait… Mormons, or morons? Are you saying they’re a religious cult?

    Comment by CommanderHate — May 2, 2008 @ 6:02 pm

  5. Or you could just quit the games industry altogether. Just because you like games doesn’t mean you’ll like making games. And the games industry seems to be a few years behind the rest of the tech industry in terms of project planning and design, and salary and benefits too.

    Comment by Aaron — May 5, 2008 @ 5:29 am

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