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Interview
July 10, 2000
Sanity Level Craziness Level
  Page 3
Monolith's CEO, Jason Hall - by The Joker
Topics:
Sanity, No One Lives Forever, Shogo, Blood 2, etc.
Company website:
http://www.lith.com


Jason Hall's answer continued from previous page:

I decided to have Monolith focus on other things that had the potential of making the company money. Game making may be fun, but it is a business nonetheless. Sometimes, tough business decisions have to be made to survive.

I knew that if we attempted to fix Blood 2, Monolith would run out of money and go out of business. We simply did not have the money to do it. It would have cost Monolith close to $105,000 a month to fix Blood 2 properly, and we were looking at 3 months minimum. NO WAY. Why would I elect to go down that path? If GT (the people who own Blood 2 and the whole franchise) weren't willing to spend that money to support their own product, why would I spend that money (and risk people's job security) to support THEIR product? It doesn't make sense.

You see, what gamers don't understand is that Monolith never received a single dollar from any Blood 2 sale. NEVER. Monolith did not take any gamer's money for Blood 2. Monolith did not put Blood 2 on the shelf and collect the fee. That was GT. If Blood 2 sold through the roof, GT would have made all the money, not Monolith. Our royalty was never going to see the light of day (this is the bad side of the business coming through). Maybe we would have made some money off of Blood 2 after it sold its 600,000th copy, but I knew that there was no way that was going to happen.

So Blood 2 didn't get "fixed" by Monolith on Monolith's dime. Now, if we OWNED the Blood franchise this entire story would be different I assure you. Business models start making more sense when you are the owner. (For example - we own the Sanity and NOLF franchises).

And guess what? Based on that solid business decision (and many others to follow), Monolith is still here today making games. Monolith has never missed a payroll, and everyone who has ever worked productively at Monolith and stayed for a reasonable amount of time has had his or her salary only go up! Monolith has been around now for more than half a decade, and I've seen MANY development companies come and go, not because they made bad games, but because they lacked a good business sense, and were unable to successfully navigate the tough decisions.

I agree that it is certainly nobler for a company to fix a product despite the fact that they are losing money hand over fist because of it. I agree that companies that do that should be appreciated by the gamer and cheered on. I agree that it is a noble idea and it should be something to aspire to in our hearts - BUT I will tell you that a philosophy like that can end your business fast if you are not careful and smart about it. KNOW THIS - Monolith has many new employees working for it that have come from a bunch of these "noble" business that have gone out of business or had severe staff layoffs.

The world can be harsh sometimes. As CEO, part of my job is to be able to look the people I work with in the eye and tell them that their paychecks won't ever bounce, and that they can be confident in the company's financial stability so, "go ahead and buy that house..." The people of Monolith (LithTech included) are my friends and my family and I will do everything I can to ensure their future and give them the opportunity to make great games and technology.

Fixing Blood 2 on Monolith's dime would have killed Monolith. This is a fact. - And for what? To make GT Interactive slightly more money? The answer was "No."

I feel really bad for the gamers that bought Blood 2 and were unable to have fun with it due to bugs. I wish it didn't happen this way, but there was nothing I could do. GT wasn't interested in paying for more development, and I was not going to send 65 families to the unemployment line just so that a minor few could have smooth internet multiplayer, or AI that didn't get stuck in corner, etc.

Basically, Blood 2 just needed more time. Time costs money, and Monolith didn't have a business model with the Blood 2 project that could justify additional work - GT needed to step up, and really they should have because it is their game that they sold.

To be honest though, I don't blame them for dropping it. The overall interest wasn't there for the Blood franchise (except for the Blood community, which r0x0rs).

So there it is (in over simplified fashion). Monolith has certainly taken its lumps for the whole situation, and GT has, well, gone out of business basically (for many reasons), so there you go.

The whole point of this discussion is that Monolith has learned a great deal from this whole fiasco, and has taken many steps to ensure that something like this NEVER HAPPENS AGAIN. This is being accomplished by having a strong partner like Fox, who is not trying to rush things out the door, but instead working closely with us to make sure we have the time and MONEY to get everything done right.

Because we have learned so much and come so far, and have a great partner like Fox who is only interested in putting out higher and higher quality product, the game community can rest assured that Sanity and No One Lives Forever are getting thoroughly tested, and well polished!

I can only hope the game community understands this. I'm sure that there will be some people out there on the net who are going to try to rip apart everything that I say here, and turn this whole explanation into a "let's all hate Monolith festival," but I don't really care.  Really though, I don't expect everyone out there to just blindly believe what I'm saying, the new Monolith products, Sanity and NOLF, are going to have to speak for themselves, which they will, LOUDLY.

The Joker: Phew!! Note to self: Never ask Jace any question related to Blood 2 again. :)

   
Continued on Page 4


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