Us and them
Thursday, 1st May 2008 at 3:42 pm
The issue of crediting in the games industry is a thorny one, and likely to continue to cause controversy for some time to come. But could Capcom's latest Okami-related blunder actually show that, despite what some may say, the 'us and them' developer/publisher mentality is still going strong?
When Hideki Kamiya, former head of Capcom subsidiary Clover Games and director of the critically acclaimed Okami, discovered that the Wii version of his final title lacked the entire Clover staff credits sequence, it's safe to assume that he wasn't particularly happy.
"I was just messing around on the internet when I saw that, for some reason, the Wii version of Okami seems to lack the staff roll that plays after the ending, and I became quite depressed," he said.
"I don't know the whole story or for what reason this was done, but... What disappoints me isn't that my name is no longer in the game - of course, our confidence and pride is in our work, so we want to bare our hearts and shout out "We did this!". But more than that, the deplorable thing is that by cutting the staff roll, they've also lost the 'sentiment' within them."
Responding on a board post picked up by Kotaku, Capcom's Senior Community Manager Seth Killian said: "The credits were removed because they were a pre-rendered movie that contained the Clover logo. We have no legal right to use the Clover logo in a game they were not involved with directly. We also didn't have the source to the credit movie itself, so we couldn't just use it and remove the Clover logo."
Capcom's response raises two questions, however. First, given that the Clover logo was a property of Clover - itself a property of Capcom until its dissolution - doesn't that mean that Capcom would have had every legal right to use the Clover logo? And secondly, does being involved in an 'original work' - in this case not even a remake but merely a port - not count as 'direct' involvement?
When Blade Runner was remastered for Blu-Ray - yes, with new features added - were Ridley Scott and Harrison Ford suddenly not directly involved in the movie? When The Lord of the Rings became a movie, did New Line not credit J. R. R. Tolkein because he wasn't 'directly' involved in the transferral?
Of course, the difference in the above two examples - and a difference Capcom would no doubt be quick to point out - is that the above instances refer to individuals, whereas Clover is an entity; an entity that no longer exists and so can't have been directly involved. And, most likely, from a legal point that's the case.
But, really, isn't a developer's name is just an umbrella for all of the creative staff involved? Would Bungie still be Bungie if everyone left and 120 new fresh-faced developers were brought in? Clover, like many other developers, was nothing more than the sum of the creative and technical talent of its staff.
So, was Clover not involved in the Wii version of Okami? Legally, perhaps not, but empirically it's obvious that they were. Without their original work, their talent, toil and effort, there would have been no game to port - or, at least, no game worth porting.
To claim that Clover was not involved in the game is an insult to the many people who spent countless hours toiling away at what was obviously a labour of love. It's indicative of the old publisher/developer divide that served our industry so poorly in the past, a relationship we hoped we'd improved. Thousands of hardcore gamers may have shed tears at Clover's demise but maybe, in the end, Kamiya and co. are better off out of there after all.
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