n-Space Blog

For the record…

Posted in Editorial by Dan O'Leary on November 22, 2011

It seems I caused a bit of a dust-up at the end of last week with a post on Facebook about a 70% review that the Official Nintendo Magazine gave our most recent release, Call of Duty: MW3 Defiance. Now that the smoke as cleared I thought it would be helpful to recap the facts for anyone interested…

The Official Nintendo Magazine’s review score of 70% was not an issue. As I stated in a response on Facebook:

Every blog has a right to their opinion. TONM’s 70% assessment is nothing to complain about. My point there is simply that game journalists should understand that it’s not the developer’s decision what platform to support a game like CoD on. This is our 5th CoD DS and arguably our best. The team would happily do 5 more, and would love to sink their formidable 3DS chops into it as well. Sadly, that is not our choice. Sorry to our friends and supporters at TONM if that offended. We respect your publication enough to expect more.

Chris Scullion, author of the OPM review, Games Editor for the same and by all accounts a solid citizen, was kind enough to do a detailed response on our FB page as well. He understood the source of our frustration exactly and addressed it as such:

Hi guys, I wrote the ONM article. By saying it’s “a shame n-Space wasn’t ready to make the step up to the 3DS yet” I should have perhaps added the qualifier “in Activision’s eyes” because I obviously do understand the industry (I wouldn’t have been able to last six years at ONM if I didn’t) and understand that in situations like this you make the game you’re contracted to make on the format chosen by the publisher.

When I meant “ready” I wasn’t referring to your ability, I was referring to the assumption that moving the game to 3DS would require a revamp of the game engine rather than a slightly modified version of the engine used in MW Mobilised and Black Ops DS, and that to get the game ready to launch at the same time as those on other formats – which have the benefit of an existing engine to work from – would be a difficult undertaking for any studio.

It goes a bit deeper than this, right to Activision’s expectations for the 3DS platform. They know what kind of sales to expect for a given install base, how much revenue that will create, what the production / marketing / distribution / manufacturing costs associated are and, ultimately, whether it is a money-making proposition in the end. That is an entirely different and separate discussion than the assessment of a studio’s technical capabilities. Those two hurdles, and several others, have to be navigated before any project gets green-lit. Through it all, it is the publisher’s sole decision to chose a partner and fund development.

ONM has a long history of supporting our titles and giving the CoD DS series solid marks. We appreciate their support and enthusiasm for our titles. I would never share a review of one of our releases on Facebook if I didn’t feel it was a fair overall assessment, or that the score was not representative. 70% is a good score and Chris had many good things to say about the title. That did not go unnoticed. Unfortunately I focused on the 3DS reference and was unnecessarily snarky about that.

Then there is Kotaku… Having just read their “Gut Check” review of the product, I responded in kind. Thanks to Brian Crecente and Evan Narcisse for at least giving it a chance. They are entitled to their opinions and recommendations. But to Mike Fahey, who, as a “journalist” and “game reviewer” had this to say:

I’ve not played Modern Warfare 3: Defiance for the Nintendo DS, and I don’t need to. Just go to YouTube, searchModern Warfare 3: Defiance, and look at any of the uploaded videos. That is not pretty. No.

I say shame on you. And shame on Kotaku for passing that off to it’s readers as one of three opinions expressed in any review, no matter how half-assed high level. Sadly, it’s this kind of outrageous commentary and attitude that has become part of Kotaku’s schtick, and it seems to be working for them. Great. Go there if you like, but I choose not to if I can avoid it. This is one instance that I couldn’t and felt obligated to say something about it.

In the end, Kotaku will keep doing their thing and n-Space will keep doing ours. As I said on FB, “We speak from the heart here. Sometimes more [than] from the brain. Of any game sites, Kotaku should understand.”

The big irony here is that folks would get so bent out of shape when I post an overly snarky 4 word comment about a website that prides itself on exactly the same attitude. Move along, folks. Get off the internet and play some good games – there are a ton on the shelves right now, Call of Duty: MW3 Defiance included!