Thursday, 21 March 2013

Anonymous guest interview: Working in AAA part 2

In the previous post, my interview with anonymous former CEO of a Triple-A publisher was cut short as he insisted on $5 if I wanted to ask more questions. But thanks to some smart financial manoeuvring (I swiped the cash out of some chav's fruit machine winnings) and now I can continue the interview. As before, to protect the his/her career, the name of the CEO and the publisher he/she worked for has been changed.
















Suicide Gaming: Going back to the subject of the games press. You were saying they were, essentially, a form of promotion for your games. Is that really the only purpose they serve?

John Dickirollo: No, we tend to use it as a talent pool for PR work and community managers. They tend to have a good connection and are just as inarticulate as most gamers are. It saves on agencies. But other than that, as far as the publisher is concerned, magazines, TV shows and websites exists purely to promote our products. Their audience comes from the showing of our products, that's why exclusive, early reviews are so fought after. Being first to review a game brings a huge boost to your viewership. It doesn't matter if it's crap, gamers only judge games writing on whether it agrees with their personal views. The games press are the cigarette and the we're the cancer.

SG: What?!

JD: The games press are the delivery system by which we reach our target audience with our advertising.

SG: Then I must ask, do reviewers get blacklisted for writing scathing reviews of your games?

JD: Absolutely not. If a  writer wants to negatively critique a game we've published or criticise our business practises, they are well within their right to do so. Much like we are within out right to pull our advertising from the publication it appears in and to never invite that writer to any of our press events or early previews.

SG: I can't help but be reminded of when Jackson Finger was fired from gaming site, Game Slot, right after he wrote a less than glowing reviewing for your third-person action title, "Barmy Army 2." Many suspected your company had a hand in his firing. 

JD: You'd have to ask the people in charge at Game Slot. I'm sure they felt he wasn't to the right standard for someone reviewing rEAlly titles and let him go...right after he gave seven out of 10 to Barmy Army 2...he'll come crawling back, just you wait.

SG: You mentioned the current economy has contributed to rEAlly'd financial woes, and to an extent, you stepping down as CEO. Are pre-owned games also part of the problem?

JD: Absolutely. Piracy is a problem too, but nowhere near as much as the pre-owned market.

SG: Why?

JD: Software piracy has been occurring before rEAlly games existed. But there's no real data on it. Pre-owned, however, does. You only have to go into any game retailer to see the size of their pre-owned section. And the mark-up they make on those games is ridiculous.  In some cases they make more money on the pre-owned games than they do on new titles.

SG:  So you view a pre-owned sale as a lost sale?

JD:  Absolutely. If someone is playing our game and they never paid for it, as far as we're concerned it's legal piracy. And retail has the audacity to beg us to reduce the price of each unit because they're struggling. To hell with them!

SG: So this explains the thinking behind the rEAlly online pass system, where gamers trying to play online with a pre-owned or borrowed game must sign over their soul to the extra dimensional super-fiend, Ian McGinty.

JD: That's common practice if gamers want to make sure they get early access to all exclusive and future DLC packs as standard. For people who hate the games industry and cheaped out on pre-owned, then selling what's left of their soul to Ian -we're on first name terms, don't you know- then they need to contribute to the upkeep of out business. It's shameful that people can buy our code and either sell it or give it to a friend without our say so. What if just one person bought a new copy of the new Bread Face spin off, "The Finger of Fudge" and  he sold it to someone, traded it in to a store or gave it to someone, then essentially he is regurgitating that game to someone who could of bought it brand new or whatever follow up we release next year. And what of that second guy trades in his pre-owned game again? The store could potentially sell the same one unit over and over!

SG: Much like you make a sports game and resell it year after year, with minor changes?

JD: Hey, there are genuine progressions made to all our sequels.

SG: No, they are basic add-ons that are disguised as sequels because you put a number on the box.

JD: Well I never! (bangs his fist on the table) It's bad enough I have to step down from cushy job in a industry I know nothing about, but to hear all my previous attempts to cement the legacy of rEAlly games are nothing but fodder for the ungrateful minority and gutter press, like yourself. Like sharks in a paddling pool full of ham, you all swarm on the slightest infraction or mistake, like forcing people to play on online servers that don't work. And the mean spirited way you all acted so offended at my amazing price plan of charging microtransactions for the slightest thing, like reloading a gun in a first person shooter. And the crap we got off the mainstream press for demanding players donate their first born, so we can cover the foundations of our head office with the blood of the innocent. It's all mountains out of molehills! Frankly, this forced resignation has been a blessing disguise. I'm well out of this...er, what's it called?

SG: Video game.

JD: Yes, the video games business. I'm better off without it. Just remember. You cannot kill the great beast. You cut off one head and two more take it's place. You can never avoid rEAlly games foolish mortal.

At that point Jack Dickirollo disappeared in a cloud of smoke, bringing the interview to an end


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