An article by Gabez, posted on July 22. 2004.

Dear LucasArts,

I noticed some time ago that you made a startling “correction” to your web site. Strangely, instead of announcing yet another Star Wars game or a half-arsed attempt to cash in with another movie licence, you instead saw it fit to erase the memory of Sam & Max 2 from your web-site... forever.

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Web-sites can reveal a lot about a company’s attitude towards their fans. You could learn from this, LucasArts...
I am of course referring to the fact that the Sam & Max cancellation statement is no longer documented in your Press Release section. An unjust funeral for a game that deserved a lot more – metaphorically speaking, you not only murdered the game, but urinated on it too.

Your reason for doing this is, of course, simple: a company that wants to become the “most creative, innovative and insanely great interactive entertainment company in the industry” obviously has no place for a lovable white rabbit and his suit-clad dog friend, or, indeed, even the indication that such a duo once existed. Negative reminders from the past must be eliminated. OBEY OBEY.

And what about Full Throttle II? Yes, LucasArts, I haven’t forgotten what you did to that game. I figure that if you can kill off a game protagonist who “so perfectly symbolizes our legacy and yet has just the right mix of attitude and edge to appeal to a new generation of game players”, then surely no game character is safe – including, of course, Guybrush Threepwood.

Despite your attempts to rub out the cancellation and pretend it never happened, the plain reality is that it did happen - you did cancel such a promising looking game, thus also jeopardizing the future of the Monkey Island series. Your exact words are obviously no longer on your site, but luckily I have a spare copy right here. Let’s have a look at it, shall we?

"After careful evaluation of current market place realities and underlying economic considerations, we've decided that this was not the appropriate time to launch a graphic adventure on the PC"

You speak of “current market place realities”, which are incidentally mentioned again by you in this internal memo, where you vow to “make insanely great games that are the right insanely great games for the marketplace”. It seems clear from your choice of words here that you will only release “insanely great games” if they conform to what the consumer wants. So, therefore, what you are essentially saying is that Sam & Max 2 just isn’t what the marketplace calls for.

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Another scan from PC Zone... the picture speaks for itself, really.
But there’s more – not only do you seem to dismiss Sam & Max, but you also appear to rule out adventure games in general, as you say that it’s “not the appropriate time” for them. To summarise, then, you are stating that adventure games are dead.

Er, doesn’t that ring any bells? Was the genre so alive and kicking when you released Grim Fandango; or when Escape From Monkey Island came out; or was the “marketplace” even ready when you essentially created the genre over a decade ago? No, of course it wasn’t – but the “marketplace” accepted these games because they were “insanely great”, not because they were necessarily perfect for any so-called realities.

Just look at the Role Playing Game. Back in the 1990’s, the industry perspective was that RPGs were dead, usurped by the more sophisticated adventure genre, but that didn’t stop Black Isle from reviving it by taking it to new heights in Baldur's Gate. As a result, everyone started either making RPGs or using RPG features in their games, until eventually RPGs came back as numero uno. Now the adventure game is in the decline, and you have abandoned it simply because it isn’t doing as well as it was in 90s.

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I included this piece of hate art that Serge did for you. I hope you like it.

Well of course it bloody isn’t. I mean, you can’t expect a type of game to consistently be right for the “marketplace”, or whatever metaphor you choose to use in order to hide a gutless decision. If the Black Isle people had accepted “current marketplace realities” and made a shoot-em-up instead, then they would have most likely have gone bust, because they would have been doing something that they’re not as good at.

I put it to you, LucasArts, that your most “insanely great games” have been adventures, and that abandoning the genre, as your cancellation statement seems to suggest, is sheer lunacy.

But I’m not going to debate you. If you want to make “Battlefront, Galaxies, KOTOR II, Mercenaries, Republic Commando and the Episode III games the best that they can be”, then so be it. Just don’t expect your fan-base to follow you.

"Games appeal to a very small audience right now, and if we're going to make them accessible to "normal" people, we need to start thinking about things differently." - Ron Gilbert, offering an alternative to cancelling everything.

End quote!

Not that we need you anymore – the quality vacuum you’ve left will no doubt soon be filled by another adventure game developer. Don’t believe me? Just look at The Longest Journey II or Beneath a Steel Sky II – okay, it’s a small start, but it takes only one Baldur’s Gate to revitalise a genre.

“Ah, but companies are there to make profit”, you say, “not to satisfy a fan-base”. Oh come on, LucasArts – take a look around. Did Black Isle go “sod it, we know the fans want more Icewind Dale but we don’t think the marketplace is really up for it”? No, instead they released Trials of the Luremaster, an add-on pack designed especially for their fans, adding 10 hours of gameplay, twenty new areas and even more items. What’s more, they gave all this away for free.

Or look at Revolution Games – instead of being selfish bastards, they instead gave Beneath a Steel Sky and Lure of the Temptress away as free downloads, as well as announcing the sequel for BASS. Take that for “careful evaluation” – not of the marketplace, but for the people who matter most: the fans.

So that’s what your competitors have been doing - now let’s look at what you’ve done. Whilst Revolution commended the ScummVM team for “all their hard work in bringing the game [Beneath a Steel Sky] back to life”, you instead tried to sue the ScummVM team, simply because they were doing your job for you. Apparently there’s no room in the “current marketplace realities” for continuing to support old games.

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This scan from PC Zone illustrates the anger from the general gaming public at you, LucasArts

And let’s not forget that you also shut down two harmless fan-projects, the Fate of Monkey Island and Legends of LeChuck – because of course when people play those games they’re obviously going to be less inclined to buy the series that inspired them!

Not that you haven’t tried to support your fan-community. It’s a little known fact that you did indeed once contemplate setting up a “community” section on your web site, the idea being to promote some of your fan-sites. The only problem was, you couldn’t control what your fans actually thought of you, and after seeing a sprinkle of negative comments on Mojo, the idea was promptly dropped.

That’s the problem with you – a good community/company relationship comes from communication, and instead of just cancelling games, perhaps you should instead listen to what the fans have to say. After all, that’s what all your competitors do, and they end up producing “insanely great games” because of it.

And would it really hurt you so much to let people download the first two games for free? Or, if that’s too radical for you, then you could have at least bundled them Escape from Monkey Island. It’s little acts like that which say “I care”, which would be a refreshing change from your current message of “if it isn’t Star Wars then we’re not interested”.

"The first Longest Journey game has sold over half a million copies, simply because it’s an “insanely great game”, so stick that up your current marketplace realities and smoke it." - Ragnar Tornquist (quote may be fictitious).

End quote!

Oh, but you think that the negative feelings towards you are limited to this little community? Well, LucasArts, you’re wrong. Being an avid subscriber to PC Zone, I’ve noticed that they’ve had a lot of Anti-LEC press in literally every one of their issues since the news that Sam & Max was cancelled, and it shows no sign of lessening as time goes on. The current issue (#144), for example, has no less than six letters sent in by gamers to the magazine’s mailbox, and this must only be a small fraction of the stuff that they’ve received. Here’s a quote from one of them: “How can LucasArts justify canning Sam & Max 2 when it has such a loyal fanbase?” - a viewpoint that incidentally sums up what I’m trying to say to you here.

Then again, you may not be planning to abandon the genre after all – it has to be said, you’ve told a few lies in your 22-year lifetime, such as “there are no plans for a Monkey Island 4”. Maybe the cancellation of Sam & Max 2 was just because, er, you had too many games to release at that time, and you had to cut something. Maybe you will make Monkey Island 5 in a year or so, when, uh, things in the “marketplace” are different. Maybe I’ll wake up and this whole adventure “wrong time” business will all just be a horrible nightmare.

Or maybe not, but the point is that I’m still not sure you were totally honest when you suggested that you won’t be making any more adventure games. It might just take other companies to pick up the mantle and prove to you that adventures can sell, or it might just be that “the most creative, innovative and insanely great interactive entertainment company” has run out of ideas and needs to milk to Monkey Island cow again.

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A screenshot from the critically acclaimed hate-em-up game “LEC Killer

Are you going to make Monkey Island 5? I think your answer will be “yes”. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow... but some day. I reckon we can be sure of that. But what we can’t be so sure of is whether your fan base will be so accepting of the game when they know that you may very well cancel it at any point during development. And that’s not just me, or indeed just the people who visit the site – but all serious gamers. Every single one of them. What comes around, goes around, LucasArts.

Gabez, anti-fan

P.S. Below are some of the opinions of other Monkey Island fans...

Next week: Gabez goes on holiday, but he’ll be back soon with more articles to entertain and educate. Stay tuned!

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Arczangel August 06. 2004

I agree with many of these comments, but essentially it will be difficult to get LucasArts to see this from any point other than the financial angle. Therefore, I am reduced to writing this...

(apparently that's what it seems to come down to for ya'll)

I believe Adventure games CAN sell well. The problem lies in the marketing of them. If you're trying to maket adventure games to the same market as you would a shoot-em-up game, then you're obviously doing something wrong. Adventure games can appeal to a larger audience, simply because it's essentially about telling a story, an interest that has no bounds. Fact is, about 80 percent of the people know about games like Halo, Doom, Quake, etc. They've been introduced to those games and know whether or not they are interested. About 5 percent have been introduced to an adventure game (in case there's any confusion, that's pathetic). I've attempted to force adventure games on to a few people now (who were all non-gamers previously) and, SHOCKINGLY, THEY ALL ARE PLAYING ADVENTURE GAMES NOW. Yep. Every. Single. One. Of. Them.

The adventure gamer is looking for different things than a action gamer. An action gamer wants technology and graphics. The adventure gamer wants smooth graphics, puzzles, and, most importantly, a STORYLINE. Trying to focus on only technology and graphics and skimping on the story will only lead to a BAD GAME. Making GOOD games, on the other hand, will lead to better sales. If adventure games sales have been bad, it's probably at least partially due to the quality of the games.

I don't think anyone will ever read this. However, in case anyone does, just know that adventure games are NOT dead. They appear dead because they're being marketed to the same core of gamers, most of which are looking for brainless activity. The shoot-em-ups, RPGS, etc, etc...everyone has tried those. They've met their full potential and that's great. However, adventure games still have room to grow.

The writing of this is not completely selfless. It's not for the good of the company or even the good of your fanbase. The fact is, I love the old classics, Grim Fandango is amazing, and I want more. I am BEGGING for you to TAKE MY MONEY so I can have a great adventure game. Please?

Many people think LucasArts has had its golden age. At this point, I'm tempted to agree. Why? Because it feels like you've stopped trying. Why try to broaden the market when we can stay in the safe zone of what everyone else is doing? Why create when you can exploit? And in the short term, that's great. Great plan. In the long run? Well, let's just say, when your sales keep shrinking, don't forget: the greater the risk, the greater the reward.


Oh, last note, I'd just like to point out that even though it might be hard to see the benefit of having a loyal fanbase ("Will a fanbase pay my bills?"), fans=free publicity, and when a game or a whole company falters a little, they'll stick by you.

- Jenn

Behind July 27. 2004

Gabez, I love this article purely because you managed to get my two favourite games series ever mentioned in it. Yes.

monkeymadman July 26. 2004

There is no question about it, the Monkey Island series should carry on for as long as possible. Apart form being a life long fan I feel Monkey Island has to be the best game in its genre and will beat any game in the comedy section!

Monkey Island back in 1990 got me into computer games and it boosted all games of its kind.

Killing this game would be killing the genre all together. And Sam & Max is a superb touch. Come on LucasArts u've done a fantastic job in the past dont stop there, your Monkey Island series has been exceptionally brilliant. Dont let the cheap knock offs like BROKEN SWORD : SLEEPING DRAGON take the stage. BRING ON THE MONKEY ISLAND AND YOU ARE ASSURED A HIGH PLACE ON THE MARKET!

theiceman0013 July 24. 2004

Great letter, I whole heartedly agree.

Frankly, LucasArts hasn't put out a good game in quite some time. The only decent game has been KOTOR, which as Remi0 pointed out, was developed by Bioware far more than LEC. LEC has essentially resorted to cloning every game on the market and slapping a Star Wars logo on it. When they aren't doing that, they're milking every character from the substandard prequels and turning it into equally substandard games.

I have no problem with the company downsizing a bit to focus on a few games at a time to make those games decent games, but no matter how solid a game they are, the Star Wars franchise has been done so much that they've flooded the market. Back off a bit, bring back some of the old fans with a revival of some of the greatest games ever, and then make a few insanely great Star Wars games.

And the adventure game market is going strong, with games like Broken Sword, Syberia and the Longest Journey. But they lack the charm, the fun and the humor that old school LucasArts used to bring.

After KOTORII, I can't see me buying another LucasArts product unless these new directions in the company are reversed.

MrManager July 23. 2004

ToonPhreak - I saw some sales numbers a few years back, and the Star Wars numbers weren't that impressive. Very solid, certainly, but still more in the league of EMI and not the huge blockbusters.

More recently, it's certain that KotOR made a lot of money, but seeing that LEC really didn't develop that game, I'm not sure how much they made from it. RTX and Armed & Dangerous both bombed saleswise at least, and it looks like whatever they made from KotOR couldn't offset those losses.

I don't know... I'm not much into economy, but I'm sure reviving some old franchises (Sam & Max springs to mind

Dr. Ond July 23. 2004

Let's not forget one VERY important thing in this whole LEC-matter:

Because of LEC f*cking around a little too much, many of their programmers have decided to go their own ways. As I'm sure plenty o' people here know already, newly started company Autumn Moon Entertainment has started production of the adventure game "A Vampyre Story", which are supposed to look much the same as MI3. If I'm not mistaking, some of the AME-programmers are the ones from the early MI-years... (Correct me if I'm wrong...)

So, LucasArts scr*wing up has eventually made some good things happen as well... Let's just hope that "A Vampyre Story" lives up to the tales I've heard so far.

By the way, great article Gabez!

Mr Flibble July 23. 2004

This article sums up everything the fans feel.

The problem is, if you think they'll actually read it, you've got another thing coming boy.

Game Vault July 23. 2004

Lucas Arts have signed their own death warrant here!!! Gabez has all the facts straight and I cant wait till Star wars blows up in their "Marketplace friendly" faces and they realise that they have no new fans left so JOIN ME in boycotting every and all Lucas arts game which they newly bring out, contact me if you agree on Dungeon_hacker@msn.com or talk to me on msn messenger!!! GABEZ KICKS ASS!!!

Krazy July 23. 2004

mje123 I don't think you really understand just how crap LEC have become. Great article Gabez! WOOH!

mymipage July 22. 2004

This comment was deleted by the user.

Gabez July 22. 2004

Yeah, Jayel - Valve are so great with their community. I mean, instead of shutting down stuff like Counterstrike they actually realsied the potential of it and used the mod themselves, until it's now a game in it's own right. Or with Gunman Chronicles, another mod that they made into a game. And when Valve needed the help of their community in tracking down the hackers, boy did they help, and the hackers were soon caught because of it.

mje123 - the point of the article wasn't to neccesarily say how LucasArts could improve themsevles (that's up to them to work out), but instead to just give my opinion on how I thought they were failing on the community side, and of course to say whether I thought Monkey Island 5 was likely even after the recent developements.

Jayel July 22. 2004

I love this article. I agree with everysingle word of it.

LucasArts is totally at fault for the utter lack of rapport between LucasArts and the fan community.

Companies like Ion Storm, Revolution, Bioware, 3D Realms, Valve, etc. maintain excellent relationship with the fans via web forums and frequent e-mail exchange. LucasArts does nothing of sort.

When fans of Half-Life made the fan game Project Gordon, Valve supported it and even allowed other fans to download it via their Steam system...
When fans of Monkey Island make their fan games, LucasArts shuts them down under a threat of lawsuit...

I don't believe LucasArts is doing this to protect their IPs or even to make more profit. They have everything to lose by alienating their only fans like this.

LucasArts is just stupid.

Udvarnoky July 22. 2004

Gabez totally wins.

LucasTones July 22. 2004

Brilliant! I love the Revolution / LucasArts comparison image. Genius!

bgbennyboy July 22. 2004


MrManager July 22. 2004

Best Gabzo article ever. :~

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