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Sim Bin goes barking mad at Slightly Mad
I think Marcus Ling, Executive VP at Sim Bin Studios in Sweden has completely lost the plot.
In a strongly-worded release sent to a number of games websites including GamaSutra and Joystiq, Ling stated:
The statements in question appear to have been made in EA’s official announcement of Need for Speed Shift, a more-realistic take on the Need for Speed franchise than the game’s traditional arcade-style roots. The description reads:
I’m guessing here that Sim Bin’s problem is that Sim Bin itself claims credit (understandably, because it developed them) for GT Legends and GTR 2. So if Slightly Mad Games is claiming that it made the game as well, Sim Bin could see this as damaging to its business prospects.
Well, frankly, tough.
May the best brand win
I think that this is an early indicator of a major shift that is happening in the games industry. For a long time, gamers have known that the publishing label is not as important as the developer brand (think Blizzard versus Vivendi, Maxis versus EA, Firaxis versus Take Two).
Developers are about to discover that their brands are not as defensible as they think. It will be the people and teams who made the games that will matter to consumers.
When you go and see a movie, you don’t care which production house got the movie made (could you even name Stephen Spielberg’s production company? Ridley Scott’s? John Wayne’s?). But you might care that this movie was “From the director of X-Men” or “From the writer of Knocked Up”
And I believe that this spat is the an early salvo in the battle for what the public careaabout: is it the development studio or the development team.
Eidos and Sega have already had an initial skirmish, when Sega agreed to publish Football Manager from developers Sports Interactive, which to the fans in the know was “From the team that brought you Championship Manager“, while Eidos kept the name Championship Manager, but not the developers. In the fanatically-tribal environment of football, the fans followed the team, not the name.
In a response to the peculiarly-public complaint from Sim Bin, Ian Bell, MD of Slightly Mad, is reported as saying:
If that’s true, it’s hard for SimBin to deny it, and hard for them to say that the statements in EA’s press release are untrue. Slightly Mad (and its staff) are simply saying that they are only as good as the products they’ve worked on, and those were some damn good products.
Given how big game development teams have become, this could get very confusing. How many developers could claim to have “worked on” The Sims, for example, or Call of Duty? There will be more confusion and conflict over claims such as this over the next few years.
But I expect to see marketing material for games emblazoned with “From the designers of AAA title” very, very soon.
BTW Spielberg’s production company is Amblin Entertainment, Ridley Scott’s is Scott Free, John Wayne’s was Batjac.