Monday, March 07, 2016

Lionhead, Overwatch, and Bears. Oh My!

The internet kind of blew up with some big stories this morning, and it would be silly of me to wait until tomorrow to bring them to your attention. Consider this a mini version of the Weekly Link Round Up, with the full-size serving later this week.

- Overwatch! IGN made an oopsie and posted the wrong image to advertise the game with a release date. A release date that Blizzard has not mentioned and no one was aware of, until now. Blizzard confirmed that the release would be sometime in 2016, but no hard date. And then IGN posted the ad, and now the internet is spazzing. The date is listed for May 24th, with an Early Access starting May 3rd. Looks like we're getting the game sooner then later! Blizzard has not commented on the leak, yet. The date is subject to change, but we're curious to see Blizzard's response. It's possible that the date was a placeholder for the IGN ad - but given that most businesses make their own ads and just send them in to the gaming sites, this is possibly the final, and accurate, version. Joy!

- Lionhead Studios, owned by Microsoft, may be shutting down this year.

Wait. What?

I must have misread that. Hang on. Let's see, something, something, something, "in discussions to close the Fable developer."

I'm trying really hard to not drop the F bomb, but what the living f*** is going on? Microsoft,  explain yourself!

Earlier this morning, Microsoft and the XBox websites announced that the upcoming Fable Legends, a multi-player title, was cancelled and all work is being ceased on the project. Further, they are in discussions with employees at Lionhead UK to close the studio, along with Press Play Studios in Denmark and Sunset Development, both working on a game titled Project Knoxville.

And that's it. No real details on why they are closing such a legendary studio. It seems completely unexpected. Maybe the studio hasn't been pulling in enough funds as Microsoft would have liked? Maybe there were concerns about Fable Legends not showing as well (though it'd be one of the first cross-platform releases for the developer)? There's no real details. And that sucks. Microsoft. You owe us a lot of answers for this one. We haven't seen negative press about Lionhead over the past few years, or anything to indicate a problem. Details. We need them. Now.

Microsoft did provide an update to Kotaku regarding the potential closure of Lionhead, but it's only in-so-far as discussing options with employees.

Update 3/7 at 11:35am: Those who are currently in the beta for Fable Legends are still able to continue until April 13th. No new players will be admitted and the game will close servers at 3pm that day. Those who have purchased the Gold package in the game will receive a full refund.

- Bear Simulator, a Kickstarter project, has cancelled future updates after a poor review from Youtuber PewDiePie. The game racked up over $100 grand and was fully funded in 2014. The game premise is pretty straight forward. You're a bear. You run around and do bear things. Unlike other developers, only one man, Jon Farjay, was behind this project. He did finish the game and released it on Steam with promises to keep the game updated with new content. For the $14.99 price tag, unusually high for a number of Steam games at that level, it seemed like a good offer knowing the game would maintain updates. But on the latest Kickstarter update, Farjay has decided to stop all production on Bear Simulator. He'll finish up the "Kickstarter" island that was offered as a reward to those who funded the project, but that'll be it.

What got to me was how juvenile the wording is with the Kickstarter update:

"Well the game didn’t have a great reception, has a stigma against it’s name and there’s plenty of other problems so making any updates or going further is basically a lost cause now. Plus not skilled enough to make the game better than it currently is or write better updates than previously.

Was really hoping the Steam release would go well but why would it, should have just gave the game to backers and not bother with Steam.

Also don’t want to deal with the drama anymore. Can’t ignore it because that causes more drama and can’t do anything about it because that causes more drama."

I understand feeling down because someone big doesn't like your product, but dude. Could you take a step back and check yourself? You're letting down your entire Kickstarter fan base, the people who gave you money to make this game, because of one bad review? Do you think studios Bethesda and Coffee Stain (large and small developers alike) care when a Youtuber gives them a poor review on their product? Nope! They know that one review isn't the end of the world. They learn from their mistakes and move forward to improve the game - keeping the promises they gave to their fans; to the people that gave them money! This is part of the process with anything creative that you make. You're going to have people who like it and dislike it. How you respond, learning to move forward and grow, really solidifies the type of person and developer that you are.

The way Farjay is acting right now is childish. While it's great that the game was released, as we have seen many others not make it to that point, the lack of future updates is disappointing to those who backed the game. Again, another example on why it's tough to support a Kickstarter - there's nothing in the contract Farjay has with Kickstarter that requires him to fulfill all of his obligations to the backers. But it's something that he has to be mindful of, as if he expects any future projects he's pretty much kissed that option goodbye as fans are going to be more hesitant to support him and his career.


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