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12/6/02 Microsoft Looking to Buy Sega

Microsoft executives have paid several visits to both Sega of America and Sega of Japan over the past 6 weeks.  They are embroiled in high level negotiations for the software giant to purchase the Japan-based software publisher.  Although both companies are not commenting, moles within Sega of America have informed us they have seen Microsoft execs touring the San Francisco facilities of Sega of America over the past weeks.

An acquisition of Sega by Microsoft would undoubtedly give the Xbox exclusive Sega content, such as their 2k series of sports games, the trademark Sonic brand games, and high profile fighting games like the Virtua Fighter series.  This could be what Microsoft needs to swing the tide of the console wars in their favor--though they still have a lot of catching up to do.

12/6/02 Angel Studios Sold to Rockstar

Angel Studios in Carlsbad, CA was sold to Rockstar and will now be known as Rockstar San Diego.  The high budget studio can now suckle at the teat of Rockstar’s successes with Grand Theft Auto for years to come.  But we all knew that already.

What has apparently happened here was the deal that was signed between the two companies, which promises huge royalties to the former Angel Studios employees should their game make it to into the exclusive 1 million+ units sold club.  Supposedly this deal is a one-of-a-kind.

Look for future overachieving attempts from Rockstar San Diego.

12/6/02 Solworks Suffers Layoffs

A few weeks ago, Solworks let go about half of its staff (10 out of 22 or so people), due to its deal with Sony Online for going south.  They were working on a PS2 project that was spinning its wheels.

Apparently most of those let go were deadwood and expensive engineers, but the studio also let go the few females working there, save for the receptionist.  Those staff remaining were forced to take pay cuts.

12/6/02 Circus Freaks Cutbacks

Circus Freaks, an Infogrames funded art team, recently cut some members.  Word has is that the evil Cruella D’Ville producer herself hired 3 much lower paid artists to replace those laid off.  In addition, many on the team were tricked into not taking any pay for a few months and working long hours with the understanding that they would get equity in the company.  When Cruella got what she wanted (Superman completed and shipped), she let staff go.

Shady dealings, for sure.

12/6/02 Nintendo Going Cheap

With the release of the new Bond movie Die Another Day, Nintendo hosted the big premiere of the movie in LA.  They invited only select media from the LA area to it.  But what about the large media crowd based in San Francisco?  It’s just a short plane ride away.  But apparently Julia Roether, Nintendo’s PR mistress, couldn’t be bothered with SF-based media.

11/6/02 Sony Exec Gets Bad Rap

At a recent big industry party in Hollywood, a Sony/SCEA/989 Studio executive was sucker punched by bad boy rapper Sean "P. Diddy" Combs.  The party was held in an effort to promote 989’s new GameDay product, but there’s no word on whether Puffy didn’t like the game or the shiny suit man!

The assault took place during a celebrity game event in front of several Hollywood types including Britney "Oops, I did it again" Spears.  Maybe, P. Ditty is still angry about GameDay 99!

11/6/02 Codemasters Colin McRae Rally 3 Delays

Gamespot recently ran this article about Colin McRae Rally 3 from Codemasters.

Codemasters announces that the PS2 version of its rally driving sequel will be released two months later than on Xbox.

Codemasters has announced that the PS2 version of Colin McRae Rally 3 will now ship in February 2003--some two months later than the Xbox version which is scheduled for release on December 10.

Codemasters has stated that the reason for the delay of the PS2 version is to ensure that the graphics and gameplay are fully optimized before release which, given that the game was released in Europe last month, suggests that it's just a matter of converting the game from PAL format to NTSC. For more information, check out our previous coverage of the game.

But could the delay be due to the walking out of most development team members to join a company across the street?  It could very well be.  Would anyone from Codemasters care to comment?

11/6/02 Poof... N-Space is Gone!

On occasion, good things do seem to happen in the game industry.  There was a small developer in Orlando FL called N-Space, which brought us blazing pieces of shit like Die Hard Trilogy 2, Danger Girl, and Duke Nuke'm: Planet of the Babes (just to name a few).

After an attempt to see what bowel movement was on the plate for these losers, we found their website empty.  Now it is simply a cover page which states "where there is fear, there is hope".

In their case... We doubt there is any hope.

11/6/02 More on Infogrames Layoffs

We reported on 10/24/02 that Infogrames might be laying off up to 65% of their staff.  It’s not reported that, a large portion of that will be from the Dallas-based Paradigm division.  They've been working on IMF for more than a year now and it's been commonly referred to as Impossible Meeting Force and Itsa Monkey Fuck for one hell of a long time.

This is a turd of a project that has had the most incompetent people managing it from day one.  Upper management has now started placing as many scapegoats as possible between them and the soon-to-be-swung-axe.  Most, if not all, of the regular people wish this shitball would get canned so that the pain would finally end.

Here’s your pink slip.  Would you like another?

11/6/02 UK's M4 Gone

UK-based M4 is said to have gone bankrupt last week.  They were working on Mission Impossible for the Game Boy Advance.  It’s not sure where this will leave the project, the dev. team, or the company.  But the game is said to be 90% completed, so perhaps M4 will retain a programmer or two to wrap the game up.

11/6/02 MCV UK Under Fire

One of the UK's main industry computer game trade presses, MCV, is under fire for promoting a Kaboom studios game about lap-dancing called Private Dancer.  In MCV issue dated October 25, they ran a full page ad asking readers to email in a slogan for advertisers, such as, "A game you can play with one hand."  Naturally, irate letters poured in.  Some complaints, "please consider the message you are sending to customers, retailers, distributors and developers when you use its resources to promote this sort of tasteless trash."  And "I thought you would have a bit more respect for your female readership.  Apart from anything else, the four advert creative ideas are very, very weak."  It gets more interesting when you note that MCV’s online portal hosts ads for Private Dancer -- is this a case of buying editorial space in exchange for advertising revenue?  Maybe the Private Dancer ad slogan should be: "This girl will do anything for a $10 bill, a bit like MCV!"

10/24/02 EA Paying Off Editors?

We heard this from several sources, so it could quite possibly be true.  There are those who are whispering about the sleazy public relations department within the mega-corp Electronic Arts.  Some have said the company is paying off gaming sites for good reviews of EA & EA branded games.  It would explain why the larger game sites, such as Gamespy, AVault, and GameSpot, seem on the whole to rate EA games higher and more positively than the "upstart" gaming sites who receive no advertising money from EA.

An except from mail sent to us:

oh, and btw--EA sux...horribly. frankly, I wonder how they manage to turn a profit. bribes and subliminal/deceptive advertising, anyone?

No, not deceptive advertising.  Just advertising and lots of it.

10/24/02 Infogrames to Cut Staff

Rumor has it French game company Infogrames is about to cut staff by about 65%.  Affected will be all divisions of the company from product development to marketing to sales.  Pack your bags, froggies, the chef is servin’ up frog leg specials soon.

10/24/02 Cryo Interactive Liquidated

Cryo Interactive was a second rate publisher based in Paris.  They had about 8 subsidiaries worldwide (2 in North America, 2 in Asia, and the rest in Europe) when they filed for chapter 11 on July 3 this year.  The court ordered the liquidation of the company three weeks ago.

Inside word is that the offer made by a trio of industry execs and involving at least one, maybe two, publishers (1 in North America) was accepted recently by the French Commerce Court.  Details are still sketchy, but the deal likely includes all licenses and assets of Cryo (including brands like Dune, Dracula, Agassi/tennis, Frankenstein, etc.)

Since the online group went into liquidation 6 weeks before Cryo, it does not include its assets.

10/24/02 The Big Guy Terminated for Harassment

Mike Rubinelli, a long-time industry exec and most recently VP at THQ, has reportedly had his services dispensed with.  While THQ isn’t saying specifically, insiders within the company say he was terminated for sexual harassment.  Apparently he said "yes," she said "no," and HR came in to settle the match.

But if you don’t believe us, check out the company’s management team listing on their website.  Sure enough, he’s missing:

10/24/02 They Can Eat a Cow in Less Than 5 Minutes

Piranha Games is tempting quality developers with their pipe-dream designs, yet they turn around and pump out budget titles.

- started an XBox game with no contract, hired 3 developers for it, then canned it because they couldn't get it signed
- start a new project without a publisher, both owners go on holiday for 2 months, come back, fire an artist who they hired for that project, go on a camping trip, come back, fire an animator
- they have promoted a guy who is now a lead, a gifted developer unfortunately he makes the place so uncomfortable that his friend left the company because of him

9/9/02 Come Get Your Walking Papers

Namco of America, in San Jose, CA, recently on laid off about 40% of their workforce.  To save face, the president of the American studio stepped stepped down.  Jesse "Teflon Man" Taylor, the head of R&D, stayed true to his "Teflon" nickname by taking a large paycut but remaining an employee.  He was demoted to external producer.

Blamed for the layoffs was the $5 million budget overrun of the studio’s latest game, Dead to Rights.  Even though Microsoft was rumored to have funded 75% of the game’s $1.75 million budget, the cost overruns appear to have doomed much of the staff.

9/9/02 Sunstorm Interactive Turnover

FatMoleyMole-MoleJr. reports the shop that was able to make the Deer Hunter series for Walmart is losing people faster than shit through a goose.  In just six weeks they've lost five level designers (Leaving 1 to finish their current game for Infogrames), and their lead artist just walked out after being docked a few weeks pay for a family emergency (Can ya blame him?).  Their top Bird Hunter programmer walked out last week.  The owner "Tony" doesn't seem to want to deal with the issues he's created there, so he turned over management of the company to Tom the producer of his hunting titles while he stuffs dollar bills down strippers G-strings all day and night at the local titty clubs.  (Can ya blame him?)

It's truly a sad place, and it's sinking fast.

8/26/02 Massively Incompetent?

What is going on over at Sony Online?  The Sony owned development group called Verant continues to have problems with their upcoming line-up of massively multiplayer games.

We've heard the news that Star Wars Galaxies has been delayed until February 2003 and that the initial game won't ship with any of the in-space features, so no flying around in your fancy X-Wing fighters.  However, a source very close to SWG has said there's no way the game will even be releasing before the summer of 2003, and most likely not until the September/October 2003 timeframe.  Ouch!  Quite a delay there.

Along those lines, Verant has said almost nothing about their massively-multiplayer real-time strategy game Sovereign.  The baby of Brad McQuaid and John Smedley, this game disappeared off the radar following a very poor showing at E3 in 2000.  Verant insists it's not dead yet, but much like the Black Knight, it appears to be suffering from quite a bit more than simply a flesh wound.  Look for this one to be DOA, if it ever A's.

And what of the massively-multiplayer 10-Six rip-off Planetside?  That sucker is still delayed with a release date that continues to be pushed back.

Good thing Verant has that cash cow EverQuest to continue to pour money into their coffers, otherwise they'd have been closed down long ago and Smedley would be out on his ass.  Too bad EQ's success couldn't save McQuaid, who has managed to sweet talk Microsoft into a publishing deal for his next massively-multiplayer game.

Sigil's webpage

8/26/02 Westwood's Earth and Beyond

Beta testers for the upcoming massively-multiplayer space game from Westwood Studios, Earth and Beyond, seem to be done with the game.  In a game where levelling is quite easy, there is no player vs. player combat, and lacking completely in any unique qualities, the game that's been in development for over 4 years is said to be dead before it's even released.  Testers have been reportedly quitting in droves, with EA/Westwood even offering them the ability to bring their beta test characters over into the official release version, once it hits stores.  A sign of desperation?  You decide.  But with competitors Star Wars Galaxies and EVE: The Second Genesis looming on the horizon, the future does not bode well for Earth and Beyond.

8/5/02 Disney Interactive Stealth Layoffs

Disney Interactive has recently conducted some stealth layoffs.  Some ex-employees have speculated that this could mean the end of the Interactive division, or at least the end of the PC development side.  This is due to the disappearing sales of Who Wants To Be a Millionaire Game with no successor to take its place.  It sold oodles and oddles, despite being lame.

Between the last round of layoffs and this new stealth one, they’ve reduced their PD staff to almost nothing and put the whole PC side under an alleged moron from some Canadian studio they brought in a couple of years ago.  Word is that he’s completely incapable of running a development group and as a result is pissing off the few remaining PD staffers, mismanaging everything else, and running what’s left into the ground.

It figures though, as word from another Disney source says the president of DI is jumping ship to start a new division and she’s eager to bail out of the sinking ship she pretty much deep-sixed anyway.  But Disney’s got problems all over, so it might not be all her to-do.

Who knows what this spells for Tron 2.0.  We’ll have to wait and see.

8/5/02 Infogrames to be Sold?

Infogrames seems to be making ink these days, although not the good kind.  Word on the street is that Infogrames is on the selling block, as their collapse in the stock market, combined with the huge amount of debt they are carrying, has brought the company to the brink of ruin.

The likely buyer, believe it or not, is Sega.  Which makes sense, since Sega has long wanted a presense in the PC market, which they have been unable to achieve.  They would also acquire some strong brands such as Alone in the Dark, Test Drive, and Driver.

8/5/02 Strategy First Cutting Back

Rumor has it that the Strategy First office in Ottawa, Canada is proceeding with a round of pay cuts and layoffs.  The pay cuts are around 30% for the people who survived the layoffs, and to justify it, supposedly they are closing the office on fridays each week so that people can't come in and work.

Well... gives them some extra time in a week to start looking for a job that won't screw them without lube.

8/5/02 Raven Soft to Develop X-Men using Alchemy

Word has it Raven Software has licensed the Intrinsic Alchemy middleware solution to develop their upcoming first person shooter game based on the X-Men license.  One has to wonder why Raven, so familiar with the Quake III technology, would try something totally different to do essentially another Quake-style game.

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