In a recent interview with Eurogamer, Free Radical Co-Founders have revealed the pieces that were laid out which led to the unavoidable cancellation of Star Wars Battlefront 3. In the conversation they spoke about how “Grey dialogue” dramatically hindered the development of the highly anticipated game.
In the course of the development LucasArts had had some turnover in its upper management by means of Jim Ward stepping down to make way for Darrell Rodriguez to take over as President. As all of us might have experienced before, with new management comes new budget cuts. Apparently they needed to make an example of someone.
In answering to how the tension was after the change, Doak responded with this, “It was worrying, but it didn’t seem like it would be a bad thing. And then we went from talking to people who were passionate about making games to talking to psychopaths who insisted on having an unpleasant lawyer in the room.”
According to Northgate, with arrival of Rodriguez came excuses to continually push back the release of the game. ”If a publisher wants to find something that is wrong with a milestone, it’s very easy for them to do so as there are so many grey areas within a deliverable. If the contract says, ‘graphics for level X to be release quality,’ who can say what’s release quality? And there you have it … We hadn’t been paid for six months.”
Doal continued, “In many ways it was a depressing farce talking to them, They had an agenda motivated by purely financial concerns. Their goal was to stop doing it. It didn’t matter that we had a contract that protected us.”
In the end, Ellis shared the thought process that is unfortunately the driving force behind the industry as it stands, “”your contract is only worth as much as how far you can pursue it in court.”
In the end, it is sad to see any game get the plug pulled after so many people put in countless hours of work into it. But if you have been paying attention, there also has been an influx of developers moving to the independent side of the industry. Far to many companies are putting their shareholders and PNL statements ahead of what they originally went into business for and that is making an interactive piece of entertainment for people to enjoy.. That being said, it is not all companies that have this mentality but at the same time it is a practice that needs to be looked at in order to keep a better balance between the developers and publishers. It’s not easy, but I have hope that if some publishers look at the way things have been done in the past, we can look forward to innovative ways of building something great for everyone to enjoy, not just the shareholders.