Curmudgeon Gamer
Curmudgeoning all games equally.
01 March 2006
Watching Tomb Raider sausage being made
You don't want to see how sausage is made, nor do you want to see how coldly a videogame company really views its properties. So, if you want to maintain some illusions, don't read this interview at Next-Generation with sales and marketing chief Bob Lindsey about the attempt to revive the Tomb Raider franchise. This is the very image of soulless marketing.

Let's take a look:
He says the marketing and positioning is all going to be based around the character herself, revamped in every way imaginable. "This character is coming to life in every way; in terms of...
Ok, at this point I was expecting the usual buzzwords: characterization, interactivity, plot. Nope. Back to the quote, with emphasis on the important bits:
"This character is coming to life in every way; in terms of physics and animation and story telling. That is what will yield the future hundreds of millions of dollars in the Tomb Raider business."
Don't pull any punches, man. Tell me how it is!

Later on, I read this which made me question whether this guy had even played the earlier games:
"Lara is a really fascinating female action figure. Starting with however her persona was defined 10 years ago she has evolved with the available technologies. Now she has become more interesting, compelling and emotionally engaging. Animation and graphics makes characters look great but we have to do more than that, to make her more compelling."
That word choice kills me. However she was defined? However? This guy has no idea.

And I sure wouldn't characterize Lara as evolving with the available technologies. Bolting little features onto a 1995-era 3D engine during the same period that Quake, Quake II, and Quake 3: Arena were developed isn't exactly evolving as much as it is painfully embarrassing. And let's not forget that it was Eidos that cut the evolution of Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness short before it was ready. The potential for a good game was there, but they had to ship something or face angry shareholders. In the end, they suffered about as much for shipping a bomb.

Moving on:
"We believe the user in the game space is forgiving as long as you admit mistakes and correct them and deliver against as many expectations as you can."
Just spit it out, and don't try to jargon me. You mean "videogame players", not "users in the game space". And here's the thing: every Tomb Raider game since the first one has delivered against my expectations, just not in a good way. I expected tombs in Tomb Raider 2, and what I got was...Venice? Say what?

How will the game do after it's released?
"The game is strong so we will get a long run, it will extend to other platforms and then go platinum. It will be evergreen so we are comfortable with the decision."
Wow, the game will go platinum and be evergreen. This guy must be getting the big bucks to come up with these kinds of lines.

Later we get this confession:
"As a publisher we need to be aligned with the next generation platforms and we need to be able to offer consumers Lara throughout the life of those consoles"
That is, we'd rather be early when people's expectations aren't high and they'll buy any new game for their software-hungry Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, then we can figure out something different later when the same old crap won't cut it any longer.

Long term sales should be good:
"I would be surprised if we were not number one in the charts during the early months and in the top five at the end of the year. We feel that good about the product."
To put that in perspective, the top five selling games of last year were Madden NFL 06 (PS2) Pokemon Emerald (GBA), Gran Turismo 4 (PS2), Madden NFL 06 (Xbox), and NCAA Football 06 (PS2). I appreciate this guy's optimism, but I will be very surprised if Tomb Raider: Legend is a top five game at the end of 2006.

I wish Colin Campbell, who wrote up this interview, had taken the opportunity to challenge Lindsey just a little on any of this. As it reads, it's a bit too much like a press release dressed up like a Q&A. Try harder, please.

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--Matt Matthews at 19:47
Comment [ 2 ]

Comments on this post:

Gah. If you ever decided, foolishly, to start thinking kindly of human nature and man's capacity for self-delusion, just load up that interview into your browser and watch your soul darken. I have no doubt at this point that the end of civilization will be a gigantic marketing stunt.

By Blogger JohnH, at 02 March, 2006 00:19  

hahahahahhahaha! :)

By Blogger Maharet, at 08 March, 2006 16:39  

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