Develop celebrates the year's end with inspirational, interesting, and stunningly incompetent moments
Like all years, 2011 was a tempting time for people in the games industry to air their opinions. The PlayStation Network collapsed, freemium monetisation models were lauded until analysts were blue in the face, legends were born and icons faded.
Below is our collection of the 51 best and worst quotes of the year, hand picked from the 2,350 news articles Develop has published this year.
Sit back and enjoy. See you in 2012.
And we’re off. We begin with an unidentified developer at Polish studio Techland, who in September was left red-faced (and possibly unemployed) after using the phrase above to label a female character in Dead Island.
“At the end of , the digital business will be bigger than the packaged goods business, full stop.”
John Riccitiello at the outset of 2011. His prediction appears to be just a couple of years premature, but certainly not baseless.
"Series grow ever-longer; original titles are on the decline. Games with new at their core are disappearing… This state of affairs deeply saddens us.”
Platinum Games CEO Tatsuya Minami speaking from the heart, in April, presumably before his studio took on the *METAL GEAR SOLID* contract.
“Anything negative you'll see about this game is an overreaction of personal preference. For what it is, it is flawlessly executed and endlessly entertaining.”
A very helpful user review of Dragon Age on Metacritic – which, it transpired in March, was written by a BioWare employee.
“The vulnerability [of the network] was a known vulnerability, one known of in the world. But Sony was not aware of it... was not convinced of it.”
Sony chief information officer, Shinji Hasejima, in May, days after it was revealed that 77 million PlayStation accounts may have been compromised.
[Further reading: Timeline – the PSN attack and collapse]
“What we’re concerned about is how many people are going to come back after the PlayStation Network comes back online. There may be a lot of people who won’t want to spend their money through PlayStation Network now. We’re expecting a 5-10 per cent drop in business.”
This UK developer, speaking to Develop anonymously in May, was understandably concerned with the PSN’s downtime that dragged on for six weeks.
“We have more than 3 million new customers since the network came back online, and sales are exceeding what we had before the cyberattacks… the summer of our discontent is behind us."
Sony CEO Howard Stringer just four months later. It really does seem that no publicity is bad publicity.
“Eventually, I had the worst feeling you can get as an entrepreneur. I felt awful – a real aching in the pit of my stomach. I realised that this was just the wrong thing. We were burning thousands of dollars in salaries a month. I went to the board and said ‘I know you’ve invested $10m in this, but it’s not working’. We had a choice – burn through the cash until we ran out, or try this little kids game I was thinking about.”
And Moshi Monsters was born. Mind Candy founder Michael Acton-Smith speaks candidly in his debut industry interview with Develop.
[Further reading: How Mind Candy won by failing over and over]
“If you're going to outright steal a game, you should at least understand what makes it fun.”
Twisted Pixel programmer Mike Henry, whose studio made Splosion Man, pulls no punches in his review of Capcom Mobile’s extraordinarily similar title, Maxplosion. The plot thickened when it was revealed that Twisted Pixel had previously pitched the game to Capcom, who declined the offer.
“While Twisted Pixel did have discussions with our console game team about publishing Splosion Man on game consoles, Capcom Mobile is a different division of Capcom with separate offices and as such, had no prior knowledge of any meetings between the console game team and Twisted Pixel.”
Capcom’s response. This all appears to prove there was no foul play. I hereby order Twisted Pixel to cease complaining of plagiarism on grounds of defamation law and--HOLD IT!!!!
“I am sorry but when Zynga is worth $10 billion something is a bit strange. If this is not a bubble, I don't know what is."
Gameloft CFO Alexandre de Rochefort, in May. Zynga’s valuation has been a matter of intense speculation ever since, until in December, when its public shares were traded at about $7 billion combined.
“These [mobile] platforms have no motivation to maintain the value of the gaming. Quantity is how they profit. The value of software does not matter to them.”
Satoru Iwata’s extraordinary speech at GDC 25, which left the industry divided on whether it was a wise warning from an industry legend, or simply old thinking from an industry dinosaur.
“If there's anything that's killing [the retail games business] it's dollar apps. How do you sell to someone that a $60 game is really worth it? People are used to paying 99 cents.”
Epic Games company president Mike Capps also appears to be in support of Iwata...
“There were some comments by Nintendo, that $0.99 apps are destroying the industry, and making games disposable. We don’t regard Angry Birds as disposable content. That’s why every few weeks we update the game. More levels, more content.”
...but Rovio executive Peter Vesterbacka sees things little differently.
“Where we've drawn the line is we are not looking to do business today with the garage developer. In our view, that’s not a business we want to pursue.”
Hold the phone. Days later, Nintendo America boss Reggie Fils-Aime disassembles Iwata’s finely constructed argument with a reckless bulldozer quote.
“As an industry, we have to support those smaller teams, and let them try out their ideas Without doing so, the whole industry will stall in terms of innovation.”
PlayStation studios boss Shuhei Yoshida weighs in on the debate, telling Develop that Sony will always support garage developers.
"It's interesting when you look at our technology licensing – it was never really a business that I wanted to be in."
The greatest mistake of all time? The PC industry would be a completely different animal if it were not for the tech built and distributed by Id Software’s John Carmack. June.
"We try very hard to avoid the debate as to whether games are art, as it tends to attract people with too much time on their hands."
Don’t pass the spliff to Rockstar co-founder Dan Houser. April.
“That’s a 16x16 pixel Smiley I sold for $50.”
There were literally hundreds of people who this year testified to the microtransaction-based free-to-play monetisation model. Everybody Edits creator Chris Benjaminsen, however, made the most vivid demonstration back in February.
[Further reading: How I made a $10k-per-month Flash game in my spare time]
“We're going to use the world as a human platform.”
"In early December everything was still a go. And then the week of Christmas, she said that's it, I don't want to hear from you guys, go away, resulting in 70 people losing their jobs."
Gate Five founder Greg Easley throws some mud at Glastonbury headliner Beyonce Knowles, following a legal dispute over an allegedly abandoned dancing game project.
“The sooner we go digital as an industry, the better for everybody. Maybe it’s not so good for retail, but then again if you’re selling our games as used copies and incentivising people to do that, then I don’t really feel sorry for you.”
Remedy CEO Matias Myllyrinne says what every developer is thinking. May.
“Right now it feels to us that the games industry is changing faster than it ever has since we started Valve in 1996. As much as we’ve tried to be flexible and adaptable in the past, today it’s more important than ever. If you look at how quickly the video game environment is changing, what works really well in one generation becomes pretty irrelevant the next. You go from sprites to polygons. From 256-colour 64-by-64 bitmaps to shaded polygonal models. Game studios have to constantly keep reinventing themselves; processes have to change over and over. In this industry, things we were successful at in the past don’t matter a whole lot in predicting how well we are going to do in the future.”
Sage words from industry figurehead Gabe Newell.
[Further reading: The Valve Manifesto]
[See also; Five interviews at Valve]
"The world has lost a genius who has forever changed the way we live, work and play. R.I.P. Steve."
Atari founder Nolan Bushnell was one of thousands to pay their respect to Steve Jobs, who passed away in October following a private battle with pancreatic cancer.
[Further reading: Outpouring of tributes to ‘icon’ Steve Jobs]
“I told my wife, ‘just a moment, I have to write something down’. She was not impressed, let’s just say, and I’m not allowed to ever do that again.”
June. Er. Peter Molyneux admits to having a 'eureka moment' in bed with his wife.
“At Kaos studios in NY sitting with a team that's finaling on 7 day weeks for a couple of months. Talk about that thousand yard stare.”
Yes, Danny Bilson, let’s talk about that. The THQ exec inadvertently briefed journalists on Twitter about horrendous working conditions at the Homefront studio. In January.
“We have been crunching for the last 6 months or so at 10 hours a day and if we did not hit our bug goal that week we would have to come one weekend day as well for 6 days a week. Over the holiday many of us were on call and unable to leave to see our family or do whatever. And now we are in 7 day a week crunch mode.”
And, days later, a Kaos developer contacts Develop to lay bare all allegations of poor work practices.
[Further reading: Kaos crunch – an insider’s account]
“I'm not really thinking of retirement.”
Miyamoto, in March. There it is. He already has one foot out the door.
"I'm not saying that I'm going to retire from game development.”
Miyamoto with that second *bombshell* in December. By this stage it was indubitable that he had walked out on Nintendo.
“He has no intention of stepping down. Please do not be concerned.”
Oh look, some imaginative Nintendo PR spin, hours after nearly every major news outlet ran with the even-handed headline ‘Miyamoto to retire’.
"Nothing has changed, and nothing will be changed in the near future as to my role inside of the company."
Victory for games journalism as Miyamoto goes back on a year’s worth of retirement threats. Well done everyone. December.
“Well, EA came to see us. I think they had plans [to acquire us], but [Riccitiello] picked up the vibe. Nothing has been said since – it’s all very high politics”.
Minecraft creator Markus Persson gently spurns the advances of EA CEO John Riccitiello during a friendly studio visit. It had been rumoured that EA wanted to acquire Mojang.
[Further reading: An interview with Mojang]
“I have learned that [Nokia is] standing on a burning platform. We have more than one explosion - we have multiple points of scorching heat that are fuelling a blazing fire around us."
Nokia CEO Stephen Elop ponders a career in poetry in an email to employees. Since that warning, sent in February, Nokia has shed staff, axed projects and is now building phones exclusively for Windows.
“I think what people want in their games in ten years’ time is a perfect digital human being, where you cannot tell the difference if it’s real or not, but it is human in reality.”
The wonderful Shuhei Yoshida promises that Sony will eventually make use of that emotion engine tech.
[Further reading: PlayStation – The next ten years]
“We will no longer adapt Flash Player for mobile devices to new browsers.”
Adobe concedes defeat in the web player war against Apple and HTML5, in a shocking internal email that circulated in November.
“If you want to do a nine-to-five job, you [should] be in another business."
[Further reading: Team Bondi interrogated – the list of accusations]
“It's the nature of the internet. People are anonymous and they can just go on a forum. I remember reading on one of them that I was a murderer and a rapist. They'd read that thing, and then the next comment was, yeah, I know him, he's a murderer and a rapist. You can look on the funny side of it, but it's pretty over the top stuff for somebody who just makes games, right?”
McNamara, in an interview with Eurogamer some months later, with a couple of things to get off his chest.
“Fucking stupid name.”
David Cage’s uncharacteristically concise review of Fahrenheit’s name change to Indigo Prophesy.
[Further reading: David Cage – From the brink]
"I think time is the most valuable thing we have, and I've decided that I'm not going to waste one more day working on something that doesn't speak to my values."
Ryan Payton explains why he resigned from 343 Industries as director of Halo 4.
“It’s not a mandate that everything we do in first-party has to support Kinect right now. [But] yes in the end, you'll see all first-party games using some form of Kinect functionality."
Microsoft Studios boss Phil Spencer in June. Hope that’s cleared things up.
“Let me make the point clear: The set-backs you will face in your business career will feel far more wrenching than you can imagine today. It’s how you deal with failures that are most likely to define your careers. There will be losses, there will be embarrassments, there will be pain, and there will be achingly long periods where people won’t believe in you. If you want to succeed in any way that really matters, you have to fail. What matters isn’t failure itself, but what you do with that failure; how you pick yourself up and get back in the game. Like everyone else that’s had a long business career, I’ve had first-hand experience with failure, and have had the opportunity to learn and recover from it. I wish I could tell you it has all paid off, that we’ve been fully vindicated. Not yet. We’ve had a few wins but there’s much more to do.”
There were so many flashes of excellence from John Riccitiello’s speech to graduates at Berkeley University, in May, that picking just one was a real challenge.
[Further reading: Riccitiello opens up on EA’s near-death experience]
“With the varied distribution opportunities now available to developers, it felt like the perfect time to move away from AAA development. It’s totally viable for a small team, or even a single dedicated guy, to create and market a successful game independently.”
The experienced Rockstar North games designer Anthony Gowland explains why he resigned from the prosperous Edinburgh outfit.
“I think the days of the great big teams are going to be limited. The UK industry’s going to have smaller start-ups from now on, I would say.”
Sega executive Gary Dunn, whose company appears to be backing its UK games studios more than ever, believes in the changing shape of British game development.
“We were always proudly independent. However, when Activision took over, we really felt that they would leave our culture alone, and for a while it was fine, but slowly the feeling did start to change.”
Bizarre Creations founder Martyn Chudley breaks his silence following Activision’s decision to close the studio down.
[Further reading: Obituary – Bizarre Creations]
"The retail model has always been and still is broken, from a developer's point of view.”
Limbo co-creator Dino Patti shoots from the hip. November.
“It's sort of ominous that the world seems to be moving away from open platforms. Platform holders view themselves as more rent guys who are essentially driving their partner margins to zero. They build a shiny sparkling thing that attracts users and then they control people's access to those things. I'm worried that the things that traditionally have been the source of a lot of innovation are going away.”
A grave warning from Valve MD Gabe Newell, in October…
“The console space right now is where the PC was before the internet really kicked off. It is about to leap forwards and it won’t look back.”
… but Thor Gunnarsson, CCP’s VP of business development, has more faith. He believes the console manufacturers will have no choice but to open their systems to innovative online services.
[Further reading: Dust 514 – the PS3’s most important game]
“Programming is the new Latin.”
Never underestimate Ian Livingstone’s capacity to generate a sound bite. The industry legend has for the past year been trying to get the attention of the government to reform education in schools. He achieved this superbly with a claim repeated across industry publications and the national press.
“Piracy is not theft. If you steal a car, the original is lost. If you copy a game, there are simply more of them in the world.”
Markus Persson, in March, nonchalantly sticking a rod of dynamite into the internet.
“As far as I’m concerned, the motion control of today is like the 8-bit phase of video games.”
Sony studios boss Shuhei Yoshida again making sense.
[Further reading: PlayStation – The next ten years]
And that was 2011.
We end our feature with an industry legend, Peter Molyneux. In March, the Lionhead boss fought back the tears in an acceptance speech for his BAFTA Fellowship, the highest accolade the Academy can bestow. Here is the speech in full.