An Attempt To Contradict Myself Without Saying So
Why Jumping On The Fan Bandwagon Might Not Be Such A Bad Idea
Oh no! I was going to make this my very last rant against the LucasArts (LEC) fan community, but then something extraordinary happened... I actually started to sympathize with them.
Yes, that fair-weather bunch of gamers turned out to have a point when it comes to one thing: canceling Sam & Max: Freelance Police was Ė and currently remains - a disastrous decision.
Sure, I still hate everything there is to hate about LEC fans. Theyíre mostly a bunch of socially retarded nerds with the width of Hoagie, the insanity of Laverne and the ineptitude of Bernard (all from Day of the Tentacle) rolled into one. But when dorks are right, you listen to dorks!
In the past, I defended LECís endless onslaught of Star Wars games. Sure, I might not have played many of them, and in fact the only ones I bought in the last few years were from the Jedi Knight series and more recently Knights Of The Old Republic. But I gave my support (however pointless it was) to the company and the endless milking of its cash cowís nipples.
However, the reason I thought LEC was right to keep churning out faceless game after faceless game was that the company would remain innovative. In my own naÔve way I defended the corporation because I thought theyíd take the money they earned from the Star Wars games and use a little to make creative, enjoyable games for the fan-boy and girl market.
LECís answer? NO.
Itís becoming a clichť already, but LEC is very much about money, money and more money. And then more. And, just to make absolutely sure, a fistful of dollars on top of that. Fine, we all know businesses have to be about profits. If they donít make them, they fold, and then you get no games at all, never mind a promising adventure game.
But come on, Mr. Nelson, doesnít the company already make enough money to risk releasing your first adventure in four years? Isnít there a point where youíre making so much in profit it becomes almost pointless? Just what are you going to do with all the money youíll save from not marketing Sam & Max: Freelance Police? Develop a plague of Star Wars: Episode III games?
If that is the case, and youíre saving all your cash for endless tie-in games for that movie, let me point out something. If those games all sell well (or at least break even) then what next? Wait for the very unlikely future of more Star Wars sequels? Just what are you going to do once Episode III is over and done with?
If youíre really a company that looks to the future and is concerned about what the right gaming market is, then try looking past the summer of 2005. Your non-adventure games devised since about the period of Escape from Monkey Island have been, with rare exception, hit and miss at best. The ones developed in-house have been miserable.
I remember the sad, homeless-dog-on-death-row look the guy at E3 2003 had when he was chatting about Full Throttle 2. That look of desperation as if to say ďHey, donít blame me, I donít think itís too good either.Ē When the top selling point of a game is the mind-blowing chance of moving forwards and backwards, you know youíre in trouble.
But Sam & Max: Freelance Police was different. Remember at that same E3? That video screen you had with a bunch of trailers for your upcoming games? Did you blush when people actually laughed at Full Throttle 2 and Gladius? Did you bashfully bow your head when people stopped, grinned and celebrated the all-too-brief clip from Sam & Max? If not, you should have.
I know the game is rapidly turning into the Holy Grail of the nerd world, but what do you risk by continuing with production? No publicity is bad publicity. Youíve inadvertently created such a fuss about the game that its release is going to get more attention than your apparently inept marketing department could ever have hoped for. Itís not much to ask for, especially when the only reasons customers have been given for not going ahead with the game are that ďUh, we donít know how to, um, sell this game, so, eh, itís finished.Ē
LEC has come under a lot of flak from the dork armies for some time now, under accusations it sold out to the Star Wars franchise. As Iíve said, I didnít much care, because we still got promised a few original games. But your latest move is foolish in the extreme. Instead of restoring a good chunk of consumersí goodwill by releasing Sam & Max, youíve gone in entirely the opposite direction.
Sure, you probably couldnít care less what Joe Q. Gamer thinks about LEC personally. I know I donít, because I only really care about myself. And now Iím working out, I do look pretty hunky. But thatís beside the point. Iíd believe those geeks who say theyíll never buy another LEC game again.
They may not have much individual clout, but 10,000 pissed-off geeks refusing to buy a $40 game just because itís by LEC means $400,000 lost for starters Ė almost 20 per cent of what some people are saying Sam & Max had already run up in production costs. And as much as I hate online petitions, about 10,000 have signed the one for Sam & Max.
Mr. Nelson, youíre LECís Vice President of Finance. You do the math.