Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sega slaps one of their developers

So in all honesty I kind of avoid those really long interviews that involve CEO's and what not. But this came to my attention today. This is from an interview at GamaSutra with Simon Jeffery who is now the CEO of Sega of America. When asked about Secret Level (developer of Iron Man and Golden Axe) if they would ever be an AAA studio, he had this to say:

I think the design side of the studio... they don't have world-class designers, but they do have world-class technology and world-class art.

Keep in mind that Sega owns Secret Level!! It is this guy's job to be like, 'Iron Man sold the #'s we were looking to sell and Golden Axe is going to be a huge hit!" or some other PR nonsense.

Instead he compares them to another studio and talks shit about their designers. I've played Iron Man and trust me - design was not the single factor that made that game rank below the 50's on Gamerankings.

It's very easy to blame design as to why things went bad but I'm sure he didn't bother to check the tools pipeline to see how long it takes to re-iterate on stuff or how often the game kept crashing right before Alpha, and the other 9 billion small things that make developing a game harder then it should be.

I also love how this whole thing unfolds - he talks more about Secret Level by saying:

"We acquired them for a pretty small amount of money and built them out."

So they buy them for cheap knowing what they were strong and weak at and when Iron Man doesn't pan out he finds the easiest escape goat. Not only that but supposedly this 'design weak' studio is now in charge or re-booting one of their classic franchises. Not a great decision if thats how he felt in the first place.

All I know is that if I was a designer at Secret Level I would be looking for a new job immediately. Don't put up with that type of abuse.

There are a lot of world class CEO's in the video game industry and you Simon Jeffery are definitely not one of them.


Anonymous said...

Wow, I totally missed that part when I read the interview. :-o

Thomas Grové said...

Nice! Way to not pull punches and call it like you see it!

Anonymous said...

As someone familiar with the situations over at SL, I would say you basically hit the nail on the head, not only in terms of the unsaid stories behind why things turn out the way they do, but also the general sentiment towards the article at this time. Bravo.

Anonymous said...

Here's an even crazier factoid... simon jeffries wouldn't know a AAA title if it walked up and slapped him with a wii controller. A quick wiki will reveal this WORLD CLASS resume:
However, he failed to achieve his goal of turning around a creative slump at the company. According to Jeffery LucasArts had too heavily relied on its Star Wars license, but successful new IP failed to materialize. Games such as Gladius and RTX Red Rock did not achieve critical acclaim or great sales; follow-ups to classic LucasArts adventure games, Full Throttle: Hell on Wheels and Sam & Max Freelance Police were cancelled, to much dismay of the fans. (An online petition to save Freelance Police got over 31000 signatures.)

[yep why rely on the most widely known license in history??? why bring back fan favorites (sounds familiar)... ]

Anonymous said...

overreact much? "abuse?" give me a fucking break. he could have said a lot more worse (yet probably valid) stuff than that. he could have been ACTUALLY unprofessional and ACTUALLY abusive and called people/titles out by name, but he didn't. but hey, guess what, Secret Level isn't making good/promising games right now. maybe they will! maybe it doesn't fucking matter because some people just like having a job!

Anonymous said...

I think it's a pretty fair view of Secret Level. Their tech is really good, but the challenges of running a large company like Sega means that creativity and technology potentially needs to be mixed from different studios, rather than the typical model of handing everything over to a single group and hoping for the best.

Interestingly, a lot of the SL talent is ex-Lucas. Some of them from the failed RTX Red Rock game.

As for some of the old Lucas stuff that SJ oversaw...Gladius was pretty good. Has a meta score of 78, and scored plenty of reviews in the 80s and 90s. Problem was that new IP at the time tended to not sell well.

Bruno Velazquez said...

Golden Axe (arcade), Golden Axe: Revenge of Death Adder (arcade), Golden Axe: The Duel (Saturn), Golden Axe 1,2, and 3 (genesis)= 2 player co-op/vs action!!!!!!

Golden Axe Beast Rider= 1 player

I'm depressed now........

Lee said...

Beast Rider is a ONE PLAYER game? And it's made by SECRET LEVEL?

I'm sorry, I think I just threw up a little in my mouth, there.

I bet the game will also have, what video game journalists call these days, "heavy sepia tones," which means, "It's full of brown poop everywhere."