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Baffling Business Decisions


Hideous Kojima
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I'll be honest, I could mention the Xbone always online fiasco, or everything Sega ever did, but really I just want to know where the cark virtual console and other retro releases have gone.

Not even true own-the-disc backwards compatibility, just steadily released titles like the PSone games available in the PS3 store.

There must be some logical reason as to why they can't put together some proprietary emulator and release a load of classic games at £5-10 a pop or under some kind of subscription model, right?

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2 minutes ago, Hideous Kojima said:

I'll be honest, I could mention the Xbone always online fiasco, or everything Sega ever did, but really I just want to know where the cark virtual console and other retro releases have gone.

Not even true own-the-disc backwards compatibility, just steadily released titles like the PSone games available in the PS3 store.

There must be some logical reason as to why they can't put together some proprietary emulator and release a load of classic games at £5-10 a pop or under some kind of subscription model, right?

 

You can do a bare bones remaster and charge a lot more for it. 

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Atlus trying to ban P5 streamers. Or Atlus releasing the only region-locked PS3 game ever in Persona 4 Arena. It’s like they see how the internet can bring their games to more people - through imports or word of mouth - and do everything they can to stop it.
 

They’d probably be one of the most baffling and stubborn companies out there if Nintendo weren’t constantly shitting the bed (digital scarcity with the Mario anniversary stuff, stomping Smash events like Big House, C&Ds against Metroid remakes, etc.)

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Destruction All-Stars originally being priced at £69.99.

 

Slightly less ridiculous, but still in the same ballpark when it comes to almost destroying the prospects of a game (and potentially an entire studio), Returnal also being priced at £69.99. It's almost like a part of Sony buying Housemarque later in the year was a guilty 'thanks for taking one for the team' moment.

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57 minutes ago, Broker said:

In general, I'm always baffled by the amount of IP big companies just sit on when there's clearly an appetite and fanbase.

 

Ye, I agree on this. I guess it's the bigwigs greenlighting it I suppose sadly if/when they deem something worthy of making $$$$

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Hey guys, I've got an idea what if we release Titanfall 2 in the week gap between the release of Battlefield 1 and Call of Duty? What could possibly go wrong.

 

At the moment I find so many of the decisions that 343 Industries has taken regarding Halo Infinite's monetisation plan to be utterly mind-boggling to the extent you wonder how some of them got beyond even an initial pitch meeting.

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1 hour ago, Harsin said:

Hey guys, I've got an idea what if we release Titanfall 2 in the week gap between the release of Battlefield 1 and Call of Duty? What could possibly go wrong.

 

At the moment I find so many of the decisions that 343 Industries has taken regarding Halo Infinite's monetisation plan to be utterly mind-boggling to the extent you wonder how some of them got beyond even an initial pitch meeting.


The TF2 debacle was bad.

 

Business wise, the monetisation of Halo Infinite was a very good move. They were distributing the game on gamepass anyway meaning boxed sales or individual paid downloads were going to be relatively low so instead they went F2P on the unfinished multiplayer* and ScroogeMcDuckDivingIntotheMoneybin.jpeg on micro transactions. I’m not sure how much money it makes but I’d go dollars to doughnuts that they’re making significantly more if they hadn’t gone this route.

 

I’m not saying I am happy with this approach but I wouldn’t call it baffling by a long shot.

 

*I know you can’t really ever call an evolving multiplayer game ‘finished’ these days but you know what I mean.

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Google launching Stadia, but essentially a shop selling games at full price, rather than it being a subscription service with a full library.

 

The streaming quality I get on Stadia is streets ahead of what I get from xcloud, so their boffins clearly did a top notch job.  But the commercial people fucked them by not offering anything close to the Gamepass model, instead modelling themselves more on the PS plus / Gold models which were/are in the process of being phased out by Sony   & MS.

 

A technical marvel, destinted for the (large) rubbish dump of abandoned google services and ideas.

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3 hours ago, Eighthours said:

Destruction All-Stars originally being priced at £69.99.

 

Slightly less ridiculous, but still in the same ballpark when it comes to almost destroying the prospects of a game (and potentially an entire studio), Returnal also being priced at £69.99. It's almost like a part of Sony buying Housemarque later in the year was a guilty 'thanks for taking one for the team' moment.

Returnal is absolutely worth 70 quid. Destruction All Stars, no. 

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35 minutes ago, Polmon said:

Returnal is absolutely worth 70 quid. Destruction All Stars, no. 


It may be ‘worth’ 70 quid AFTER playing it, but not as an unproven new IP from a former indie studio. The price point definitely cost it so many sales.

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Building your new IP on the idea it will have a story people love, spending 3 years on world building and writing backstory, hire excellent writers to do text that players can read in your game, then farming out the actual dialogue, scripting and voice acting to people with no talent whatsoever. 
 

Destiny has incredibly lore in the grimoire, an amazing world and fantastic character designs. But the dialogue in the actual missions sounds like it was written by a twelve year old who just read their first sci-fi novel, and a lot of the initial voice acting was embarrassing. I can’t understand how a giant company can be hoping to create an IP that spawns movies, books and supports years worth of games, pay talented people to create and flesh out the story, then scrimp on the thing that they’re relying on to get people interested enough to dive into that lore and invest in the world. 

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1 hour ago, Rex Grossman said:

I know it's easy to bring up Sega decisions but pricing the Saturn $100 and £100 more than the PlayStation in the US and the UK was barmy.

 

In Sega's defence, the Saturn price was announced first, so they didn't know it would be £100 more until it was too late. I'm not saying it isn't a wild price tag, but I guess this was still the era of everyone jumping on the CD bandwagon and throwing figures around...

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6 minutes ago, Qazimod said:

 

In Sega's defence, the Saturn price was announced first, so they didn't know it would be £100 more until it was too late. I'm not saying it isn't a wild price tag, but I guess this was still the era of everyone jumping on the CD bandwagon and throwing figures around...

I assumed that the Saturn cost more to manufacture than the PlayStation, and didn’t have the backing of a megaglobalcorp like Sony to subsidise bits of it. (Also, people mostly forget this these days, but very early on, it looked like the Saturn would be the dominant system – Sony seemed an untested entrant into gaming. And I could be wrong here, but IIRC the Saturn even outsold the PlayStation on launch in Japan.)

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As a 14 year old I saw the Saturn price tag and went "I'm never going to be able to get one" despite really fucking wanting one.

 

The only reason I managed to snag a PSX was because I was working for a video game rental place, one which didn't cater for the Saturn because there was almost zero demand for it.

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13 minutes ago, Qazimod said:

 

In Sega's defence, the Saturn price was announced first, so they didn't know it would be £100 more until it was too late. I'm not saying it isn't a wild price tag, but I guess this was still the era of everyone jumping on the CD bandwagon and throwing figures around...

 

But they could've changed it in the US once it was clear. And then not made it £100 in the UK after it was obviously a problem.

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Activision and Platinum Games making a TMNT game that was only going to be available to buy for eight months. Activision/Platinum's other licenced titles around that time also had unusually short shelf lives (Transformers Devastation was on sale for two years, Legend of Korra for three), but TMNT was the really ridiculous one.

 

Of the people at Activision connected to its development, how aware were they that the TMNT licence was due to expire that soon? Did they make the game in full knowledge that it would only be a quick cash-in on sale for a short time before they lost the rights? Or did they expect that they'd be able to extend the TMNT licence without any problems? Maybe if the game had been better received, the publisher would have tried to retain the rights to keep the game on sale?

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Regarding the numerous bizarre decisions that Sega made involving the Saturn, here's a translation of part of a recent interview with Hideki Sato...

 

https://forums.sonicretro.org/index.php?threads/new-hideki-sato-interview-discussing-the-sega-saturn.40684/

 

On why 3D graphics were not initially a focus for the Saturn, leading to the belated addition if the second SH-2 processor:

 

Quote

Sato: To be honest, in the beginning, I wasn’t thinking of 3D capabilities for the Saturn at all. This was partially my fault, but additionally, the game developers at Sega at the time had basically no knowledge of 3D game development. They had all been raised in the environment of 2D sprites and backgrounds, and the only developers who had any real experience with 3D were Yu Suzuki and AM2 with the Virtua series. I personally had created proposals for a number of polygon-based arcade systems by that time, and the only one who had shown any interest was Suzuki. Actually, all of the other developers wanted to continue developing using the same system they were used to. If you looked at every single Sega employee within the home console division, there were practically no programmers or designers who had any knowledge of polygon technology.

 

What was special about Yu Suzuki at the time? He majored in math at university. More so than electronics, you have to be good at math to do 3D. That’s why Suzuki was ahead of everyone else in creating 3D polygon games. So, the situation at Sega was that if we made developers work on 3D games, they would have to study the fundamentals of math and geometry from scratch. Even the designers would have to study it. Up to then, designers had been drawing art pixel-by-pixel on a flat plane, including background art. If they suddenly had to do 3D CG art, they would have to learn it all from step one.

 

I had taken a look at Sega’s development teams at the time and concluded, “It’s going to be impossible for them to do 3D games.” I mean, we had over 1,000 developers working in the development division at Sega then. The Saturn was going to be released in 1994, but software development for it had to begin in 1993—and in some cases even in 1992. With all that in mind, I concluded that there was no way Sega’s development assets would be able to do 3D. However, the PlayStation completely embraced polygons.

 

The interview quote at the link concludes with him saying that in retrospect, they should have used the Model 1 arcade as a basis for the Saturn.

 

 

And also by the same translator, some extracts of a more extensive interview:

 

https://www.sega-16.com/forum/showthread.php?33506-Hideki-Sato-on-the-Sega-Saturn-(incredible-new-interview)

 

Quote

So we released the Saturn in 1994, and as I said before, there were two SH-2s. In addition, memory was expensive at this time, and we were using a large amount, so costs were very high. For each Saturn sold, we lost about 10,000 yen ($100). That’s how the hardware business works. But the goal was to recoup the losses from software royalties. If there are lots of third parties, lots of games sold, and we get 2,000 yen for each, it’s possible. However, if software sales are weak, and for each console sold, we’re ultimately losing 5,000 – 6,000 yen, what’s going to happen from the business perspective? We’re going to stop selling consoles. This later became a huge problem.

 

Every month, or even every week in Sega’s case, we had meetings to examine the current situation. Each department would report on where it stood in relation to its goals. So, imagine if the sales goal for the end-of-year sales war is, say, 3 billion yen, and the profit goal is 300 million yen—but wait, the profit is in the red. That profit is a very important factor, so what does the business side do? They decide that it’s not necessary to have sales of 3 billion yen. Instead, 2 billion yen will do. In other words, they stop selling 1 billion yen’s worth of hardware. That way, if each unit sold is losing 5,000 yen, and we extend that to 20,000 units, that’s 100 million yen lost. By stopping the sales of 20,000 units, in a way that becomes 100 million yen in profit. So they slammed on the brakes in terms of unit distribution. Even though there were people that wanted to buy the console, Sega didn’t want to sell it, because the more they sold the more they went into the red.

 

From the perspective of the third parties, they saw that Sega was curbing the sales of the Saturn. The more consoles there were, the more games would be sold. But if console sales were being limited, then this created a serious problem. As they say, poverty dulls the wit. This led to a negative feedback loop.

 

I think the bit in bold is a good example of a baffling business decision!

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I'd say that Blizzard doing dumb things with cherished IP (Diablo Immortal, Warcraft 3 Reforged) was baffling, but then again Blizzard suspending a Hearthstone player for protesting against a totalitarian regime was baffling...

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The Saturn's hardware is basically a lot of chips stuck on a blender. I don't think the PS3 even matches for wackiness. It has all of the same "you've got to program in parallel in headwrecking fashion" except it's the mid 90s and you've even less headroom and worse tools.

 

That whole generation was pretty experimental though. There's an uncrippled version of the N64 that has similar costs but has much better framerates and textures. 

 

Sony got it most right by keeping the architecture simple and clean. So they took that lesson... and built the PS2. Had Sega put a DVD player in the Dreamcast, that could have went very wrong.

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1 hour ago, Paulando said:

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Their whole "pay a hefty extra fee for some poorly emulated N64 games" approach starts to smell of hubris Nintendo again. It kinda happens naturally I think when they've had some years of success (see also: the N64 launch price after the SNES' success; the 3DS launch price after the NDS' success; the WiiU after the Wii's success). It's the circle of life. And it moves us all through despair and hope.

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