Lorne Lanning of Oddworld Inhabitants has savaged publishing giant Electronic Arts, cancelled all current projects and will be leaving the games industry, it emerged last night.
The shock news came in the form of an interview in the Hollywood Reporter in which Lanning expresses complete disenchantment with an industry of which once he was a shining light.
“[Stranger’s Wrath] wasn't advertised or marketed because Electronic Arts couldn't get its PlayStation 2 port of our Xbox original to run and if EA isn't on all SKUs, it just won't promote the game,” stated a clearly distressed Lanning. “It was very disheartening to us that we could have a title with a user metric of 9.6 [out of 10], a game that was praised as being a fusion of filmmaking and video games in terms of being less 'gamey' and more story and character-driven ... and then to see that the largest publisher in the industry had no interest in marketing it regardless of how innovative it was.” It's an incredible attack, perhaps the most vicious assault on the practices of the world’s biggest third-party publisher from a senior source.
Lanning’s bitterness at the games industry and its base business model also came in for a roasting. “If you speak to any developer and they don't tell you they have the same frustrations that I had, they're lying. We closed the studio because of what the realities of the marketplace are. There is currently only one financing model in the games industry, and that is that the publisher pays for the entire game; it handles the manufacturing, the marketing, the distribution, the advertising, practically everything, much the way it used to be in Hollywood pre-United Artists. But, as the film industry matured, it took on a more sophisticated financing structure. Today, for example, studios don't pay for a movie by themselves. They pay a percentage and then other parties pick up the other 66%; it's usually a three-party investment package. But not in the games industry. And so, as a developer, you have limited options in terms of how many parties are actually willing to finance your games, what types of games they are willing to finance, and what are the terms you face as a third-party developer to get that financing. That's not a very exciting climate”, said Lanning, echoing concerns that developers across the globe have been voicing for years.
Although until recently, the super-big name studios - studios with a mass-market recognition level bigger than most publishers - had been thought somewhat immune from the problem of finding flexible funding.
It would seem that EA paid little notice to OH’s status, though the decision to withdraw almost all marketing support from Stranger’s Wrath is utterly stunning.
We’ll bring you more on this story, and an outline of what lies ahead for the Inhabitants of Oddworld, in the coming days.
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