Saturday, April 08, 2006

And now you know... the rest of the story!

I ran across a quote on another website and had to put it here as it is supposedly from a person who was in a company that was aquired by Microsoft. You can see some of the concerns that I brought up in the comments section of my last blog. I got the quote from Lost Garden, but was unable to confirm his source myself. Here is the quote.



"Having lived through the Microsoft buyout of a game studio, perhaps I provide some insight into why acquired studios seem to lose their mojo. Disclaimer: This are my opinions only, and come from the individual contributior perspective, not that of the studio management.

First off, Microsoft corporate culture does not map well to a typical successful game studio, and no matter what assurances are given that the studio's culture and operations are going to be left intact, within a couple years the studio becomes fully integrated into the 'Microsoft Way'.

Probably most destructive are the Microsoft one-size fits all HR policies such as stack ranking. Game development is truly a team effort, and successful studios have managed to create teams where most of the performers are above average. Instead of being able to reward people fairly, a pre-determined number of people each year have to be given a "poor" review which includes no compensation increases of any sort, and the warning that if they fail to improve by next year, they will be on the list of people to be 'managed out'. On the other end, a smaller pre-determined number of people will be rewarded handsomly no matter if they have not produced anything to merit such. So a culture of teamwork, focus on the product,and pride in the company will quickly morph into a culture of individual self-promotion, politics and backstabbing, and a disdain for the company.

Additionally, as part of Microsoft, the studio no longer has the urgency to make the next game great and complete it in a timely manner. With Microsoft's billions insuring financial stability if a game is cancelled, and no direct financial upside to producing a hit game, the pressure of living close to the edge that was present in the old culture that helped the team focus is supplanted by a devil may careattitude that creeps into the 'rank and file'. As a result, many of the developers transform from passionate, competitive people who strive for excellence into someone who just 'does their job' and goes home at 6pm sharp. Others just leave for greener pastures. Management gets their large bonuses in any event.There are other issues of course, such as loss of control over future projects, headcount restrictions that prevent a studio from hiring desperately needed people, and so on."-Anonymous Coward

Take it or leave it. Look, I take my hat off to Peter Molyneux. He is, in my opinion, in the top 5 of the most creative and innovative developers in the world. Some day I may write you guys a list, but not today. The point is, I hope that Molyneux and his team can use the financial backing of Microsoft to produce fresh new titles and take the time to polish them properly, instead of heading down the dark road that Rare has gone down. From excellent to ordinary. From perfectionist to lackadaisical. I just hope Lionhead and Molyneux (esspecially) are strong enough to keep their individuality within such a large and protective environment.

4 Comments:

Blogger Chaos Incarnate said...

Well, they could always leave. I mean, Peter Molyneauxwhateverhisnameis used to work for someone else. If he doesn't like those conditions, I'm sure he'll leave.

On a different note, get this, this is about the Revolution:

"Also, I'm fairly sure the Revolution will use the standard OpenGL graphics API, which is what the GameCube used. In that case, games will not specifically need to support the [LCD shutter] glasses. The console or peripheral itself will be able to force the game into stereoscopic mode because the OpenGL data describes a full 3-D scene even though it's normally rendered on a 2-D display. All the console has to do is tweak the "camera". This is how most 3-D displays for PCs work (except they also support the Direct3D API) and it works very well at least 90% of the time even though almost no game technically "supports" it. If developers know ahead of time to expect people to have a 3D display they should be able to make that 100%"

Yet another item to support the 3D headset theory, and none yet to oppose it.

April 11, 2006 3:39 AM  
Blogger Chaos Incarnate said...

And on the PS3 front...

http://gear.ign.com/articles/700/700258p1.html

April 11, 2006 3:59 AM  
Anonymous Mina~ said...

It'll be interesting to see what comes of all this. And like chaos said they can always leave Microsoft if they start to go down that 'dark road.' I'm sure even in the video game industry there are ways to get out of iron clad conracts...
I also think that when the Nintendo Revolution comes out a lot of the developers will be sad they got off the train and missed their chance to make a game for it. 'Innovative' isn't really Microsoft's thing if you haven't noticed. Lol! The companies that get stuck working for them are going to be stuck working with the old school consols. Their loss. Monetarilly (watch me make up words-lol) and creatively.

April 12, 2006 7:27 PM  
Anonymous Mina~ said...

BTW, was this about Peter Molyneux or Paul Harvey?

April 12, 2006 8:17 PM  

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