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IGN: Bethesda tried to kill Human Head (Prey 2) to buy them at a cheap price

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kortez320

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Mar 14, 2013
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Well the elder scrolls games are bland and souless so I won't have any issue not buying them ever again. And this comes from a huge CRPG nut.

Don't get me wrong either I'm not a boycott type of guy but this if it's 100% true is about as scummy as I've ever seen in this industry. And since I'm not missing anything it'll be easy.

Edit: That description of the management team/leadership at Bethesda totally explains a lot when it comes to the Elder Scrolls online. (I.E. Why it exists)
 

Imbarkus

As Sartre noted in his contemplation on Hell in No Exit, the true horror is other members.
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You sure like to attack me, huh? You'd have a point, but there is no evidence here - just quotes from two anonymous sources who tell one side of a story. IGN felt comfortable reporting this without any sort of documentation or other conclusive sourcing. I would not have. (As I told Mitch.) I have no doubt that it's true, but anonymous accusations are tricky territory, and when we're talking about a claim this serious, I wouldn't want to report those accusations without being able to share more than just quotes from unidentified sources.

Case in point: http://kotaku.com/5955223/what-went-wrong-with-silicon-knights-x+men-destiny

But this one was okay "because Dyack."
 

Grief.exe

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Well the elder scrolls games are bland and souless so I won't have any issue not buying them ever again. And this comes from a huge CRPG nut.

Don't get me wrong either I'm not a boycott type of guy but this if it's 100% true is about as scummy as I've ever seen in this industry. And since I'm not missing anything it'll be easy.

Edit: That description of the management team/leadership at Bethesda totally explains a lot when it comes to the Elder Scrolls online. (I.E. Why it exists)

I would imagine they have become way too dumbed down for a CRPG fan as well.
 

Grief.exe

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I don't know if someone already linked this from the other thread, but very relevant information that sheds some interesting light on the situation.

Seems to me like a pattern that lends credibility to some of these claims.

lol, Zenimax just keeps on trucking.

Back in 2001 Bethesda Softworks published Echelon in US - the title developed by russian developers Madia. They didn't pay a single cent from boxed sales of the game. Developers wrote an open letter in which they have honestly detailed the whole affair but Bethesda still refused to pay. Battling in american courts is an expensive and time consuming affair, so apparently they decided not to take it to the court.

Here is the letter:


Many people have recently asked us to give our explanation to the present unfavorable state of affairs around the Echelon patch. Not only journalists, but also numerous gamers have sent us hundreds of messages, asking why we do not release the long-expected patch to the game. Gamers' complaints and rebukes have been especially painful to us, as we understand that they have also suffered from the conflict. Still, we long kept silence in hopes to resolve the conflict amicably. But now the time has come to tell all the truth, as it is impossible and useless to keep silence any longer. All this is terribly disappointing to us, the authors of the game. Still we believe that our game not only brought troubles to those who bought it...We believe that many people enjoyed playing it.
When - 4 years ago - we started developing the game, none of us had had an experience of making a full game of this size from the beginning to the end. We could not even imagine then how many difficulties we would be confronted with, and how long the way to the master would turn out to be. The development of Echelon took three years and a half of arduous toil in a small office with no sanitation (cockroaches, the spill tank that never worked, etc). We constantly had no money (we could afford only food then). We had to work on completely outdated computers and with only one 19200 modem for all.

As we had no experience, we often made mistakes and had to begin from the very beginning again and again. While we were developing the game, the technologies, which are the most important for the gaming industry, dramatically changed three times; and three times we had to re-make almost everything in the game. At times we gave ourselves up to total despair, and thought of closing the project-And anyway, we believed that one day we would finish the game, and we braced ourselves and got back to work.

In two years, our Russian publisher Buka signed the publishing agreement with the well-known American publisher Bethesda Softworks. According to the contract, Bethesda was to pay 250000USD in advance (this sum was divided into 5 parts, each of which was to be paid on our finishing a certain stage of development) and to carry out a good advertising campaign in the USA and Canada. The royalty, which Bethesda was to pay us were really small (7%), and we knew that Bethesda had not published any successful products in the last couple of years. But still, we believed that Bethesda would sell the game well in North America (which is one of the world largest and the most important territory for the gaming industry).

We really delayed the release of the game. It would be silly to hold it back now, as everybody knows it, and besides we have just given you the reasons of the delays. We agreed to pay all penalties specified in the contract. Moreover, Bethesda had the right to terminate the agreement at any stage of development, but they did not. They even paid two of the five 50000 USD payments they had to pay according to the agreement. Therefore, we finally completed Echelon, and Buka sent the American master CD to Bethesda. It was perhaps the only mistake, which our Russian publisher mad, but it was A RELLY BIG MISTAKE. The point is that Buka sent the master even in spite of the fact that by that moment they had not yet received the payment , which Bethesda had been to make on the receiving of the beta of Echelon, and even in spite of the fact that though the American release date had already been announced then, there was not advertising campaign at all. Still we believed that the game would be successful and many people would enjoy playing it.

Echelon is our first project. We devoted three years of our lives to it, and tried very hard to make a good game. And it is natural that after the release, we did not loose interest to Echelon. Our interest even increased. We must admit that however had we tried, we were unable to fix all the bugs in the game (though they all were found after the master was sent to Bethesda) and to complete everything we had designed, because of the lack of time at the final stage of the development. Still we believed that we had created a REALLY GOOD game, a game, which many people would like and enjoy playing.

By now we have fixed a number of bugs in the game and made a few major additions to fulfill all wishes, which people who bought the game made. However, after days of permanent argument and thinking we decided not to release the patch for the American version of the game. Why? Because: We worked for three years and really expected our work to bring us some profit. We did not expect to gain millions. We sinply hoped that when we would finish the game, we would be able to at least make some presents to our friends and relatives, who helped us greatly all the time we developed the game, hoped to be able to take trips to some places with our girlfriends, goddamn, we simply hoped to be able to afford a good dentist! We also hoped that we would gain some start-up capital, which will enable us to begin a new project without getting into new debts.

None of which has happened. Why? Because: For half a year now Bethesda has been delaying the 150000USD, which they ARE TO pay according to the contract, and moreover, it even refuse to give us the reason why. We have not been paid even for the beta. According to the contract, Bethesda should send us quarterly sales reports. Bethesda started to sale the game in May. By now Bethesda has sent us only the 2nd quarter 2001 report, which gave really ridiculous figures.The 2nd quarter 2001 report we have not received. The huge ad campaign, which Bethesda promised to carry out, it has not carried out (there were a few articles in some magazines....and that was it), and everybody understand how important advertising is for a game to be a success. But still, from some source we know that by now Bethesda has sold about 50000 boxes of Echelon in North America, which means that Bethesda has already made over a million on the game. We were simply shocked by such a way of doing business, and thought it would be humiliating to continue fulfilling the requirements of such a dishonest and treacherous "partner", and to continue supporting "the partner" with new patches and add-ons. But still we believe that the Bethesda case is not typical of the American market, and soon we will be able to find a new American publisher for long and effective cooperation.

In hopes of resolving the conflict amicably, long we kept silence, and quite a number of American players of Echelon got angry with us for that. And we must admit, peoples' anger was JUST. Because the gamers could not understand, why THEY have to suffer from this conflict. Buka also had to keep silence, and still keeps it, because it IS to keep silence according to the terms of its agreement with Bethesda. And we must point to the fact that it HAS NEVER breached this agreement , though Buka's reputation is greatly suffering from it. But it is useless and just impossible for us to keep silence any longer. The things that happen to Echelon - the game was left unfinished, it is impossible to release patches, angry messages on Bethesda's forum - every single thing of it is causing us - the creators of the game - great pain. And that is why we wrote, what you have just read.

Still we believe that our game is not thus bad, we believe that many people liked it, and we believe that this is not the end of its life.


Pete Hines replied:

We at Bethesda Softworks regret the issuance by Madia Ltd. of an "Open Letter" yesterday, which presented misleading allegations about Bethesda's role as publisher of Echelon in North America.

Bethesda has no contractual obligations to Madia. Madia developed Echelon for Buka, which in turn contracted with Bethesda to publish Echelon in North America. Bethesda has been in discussions with Buka concerning a series of contractual issues, including the late delivery of the game by Madia. We do not intend to address such matters in the press.

Be assured that the Open Letter by Madia presents an unbalanced and false statement of facts concerning the game and Bethesda's actions as the game's publisher. And nothing in the discussions between Bethesda and Buka has prevented Madia from releasing an Echelon patch for fans of the game.


You guys know Bethesda owns Arkane, so they can make them do whatever they want them to do. During production of Dishonored, Bethesda started to arbitrarily reject milestones. In doing so, the then-independent-Arkane had to find ways to pay their staff since successful milestones are what feeds the bank. Knowing that Arkane wasn't making their milestones on time and potentially going to suffer internally, such as loosing staff, or ultimately shutting down, Bethesda's parent company Zenimax stepped in to help Arkane out by floating them loans during this "quality issue" period. That seemed nice of Zenimax to help out Arkane, right?

Now since Bethesda had been rejecting milestones because they didn't believe Arkane was maintaining the quality they originally promised, Arkane's also severely behind schedule because time has been spent correctly and addressing Bethesda's issues with previously rejected milestones.

Since Zenimax is also the company that's invested in Bethesda, they start telling Arkane they have serious concerns about their ability to finish the Dishonored. Even though they originally floating them loans to keep Arkane running, they now give them an ultimatum: pay back the loans or sell them the studio for some piddly amount. If Arkane doesn't do either, then Zenimax will take them court for breach of contract since they're now so far behind in the project.

Remember, it's because Zenimax's company Bethesda has been rejecting milestones that put Arkane behind in the first place.

The outcome is Arkane reluctantly sold their independence to Zenimax so they could continue the creative work they started and at the very least have public recognition for their efforts.

This is why Bethesda can tell Arkane to do whatever they want them to do now.

What would you do if you were making Prey 2 and started wondering why Bethesda was suddenly treating you differently? You'd start looking at past independent developers Bethesda has had deals with to understand if it's a developer issue or a publisher issue. When you discover Bethesda started to reject milestones at not only Arkane, but Splash Damage and inXile, you start to see a pattern. Knowing the fate of Arkane, if you were the Prey 2 developer would just sit there and see what happens or would you confront the publisher?

A few years ago Zenimax received a large investment to acquire talent. I think it was $150 million or something. When you have a board of directors that include Jerry Bruckheimer and Donald Trump's brother as well as the original investors who want Zenimax to "acquire talent", then you're going to have members asking why Zenimax isn't making money outside of their core Bethesda studio (Scrolls and Fallout).

Since Zenimax botched Demon's Forge with inXile and Brink with Splash Damage, they had to bank on Arkane's Dishonored and Human Head's Prey 2. Arkane is what is today because of Bethesda. Dishonored is a success because of its original creators. Prey 2 is a strange IP though, since it was Bethesda's only sequel at the time and previously owned by the Radar Group. Doom 4 has had its own issues. Wolfenstein wasn't even known about when Prey 2 started having whatever happened to it.

Both Doom 4 and Wolfenstein's rights were purchased along with iD Software. There's no reverting of ownership after no use. Prey 2 on the other hand could revert back to the Radar Group if it's not used by a certain time or declared cancelled.

It could be Zenimax realized they were caught with their hand in the cookie jar with Human Head from a legal standpoint and it created some sort of stalemate. Zenimax's CEO is Robert Altman who was previously a lawyer http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_A._Altman. Maybe there's some period of time they were waiting out to legally do something else with Prey 2. Or they just couldn't find a developer with the talent or time to do something with Prey 2 until now, since they obviously didn't want to work with Human Head anymore.
 

n8rtot

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Jun 5, 2012
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Imagine being Human Head and having to sit quiet during the past year while everyone thinks they're the reason Bethesda delayed Prey 2. All for the fleeting chance Bethesda was going to ask them to finish the game.

Development of Prey 2 has not been cancelled but the game will not be released in 2012 as planned. The delay is due to the fact that game development has not progressed satisfactorily this past year, and the game does not currently meet our quality standards. Prey 2 has shown great promise and we regret disappointing our fans. We have made a substantial investment in game development to deliver the experience fans want. We are determined only to release the AAA game that fans rightfully expect, and are unwilling to compromise our quality standards to meet a release schedule.

http://www.bethblog.com/2012/04/19/prey-2-update/

It's weird reading the comments from that press release knowing what we know now.

Someone needs to update the timeline on aliennoire. A lot's happened in the past couple weeks! http://www.aliennoire.com/home/game/timeline/
 

Spring-Loaded

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Apr 16, 2012
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For what it's worth, I was skeptical of bethesda's "game has not progressed satisfactorily," statement the moment I first read it since I'm familiar with their track history :p

I don't know if someone already linked this from the other thread, but very relevant information that sheds some interesting light on the situation.

Seems to me like a pattern that lends credibility to some of these claims.

That open letter was chilling to read.
 

TAJ

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
Jun 9, 2004
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Dyack should become a consultant. He could really coach people through this process.

Didn't Factor 5.5 pull something like that, too?
 

Alchemy

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Sep 1, 2008
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Welcome to capitalism, where one side has all the skills to build what is wanted but will starve unless they sell their souls to the men in suits.
 

bigboss370

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Is anyone else surprised IGN actually put up an article like this? How is this going to affect the relationship between Bethesda and IGN for interviews and such? >_>
 

web01

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Jan 20, 2008
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Bethesda is a disgusting company no one should be surprised. They release a game (skyrim) they knew was completely broken and took active steps to hide this by not sending out press copies. They dont give a fuck about anything except making as much money as possible regardless what underhand tactics they use.

Is anyone else surprised IGN actually put up an article like this? How is this going to affect the relationship between Bethesda and IGN for interviews and such? >_>

Was thinking the same thing props to IGN for doing some actual journalism.
 

n8rtot

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Jun 5, 2012
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I expect to read some Bethesda press release in the coming week if this interest continues for the next couple of days. The last time they responded about Prey 2 was over a year ago and only after people started trashing Bethesda at the possibility of them cancelling Prey 2.

What tactful way will they explain their actions? Will they say these are only rumors... they didn't treated Human Head poorly, Arkane's not taking over the project, and they're still trying to work things out?

I wonder if that press release about failing to maintain Bethesda's standards was also an attempt to discredit Human Head's efforts to find other work to support the studio. It appeared only days after Human Head announced they started to revive Rune. Before that Bethesda had said very little in half a year about Prey 2.

http://www.shacknews.com/article/73345/rune-sequel-being-considered

If you want to get really evil, what if the original rumor about being cancelled last spring was initiated by Bethesda as a veiled threat to the developers... submit or we'll kill all your efforts.
 

KuroNeeko

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Jul 22, 2009
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Lots of games out there to buy. Blacklisting one more publisher won't make me lose any sleep.

Sorry, Bethesda Softworks. No more of my cash for you.
 

jcm

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Dec 8, 2008
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What a bunch of assholes. I had no idea Bethesda is run by an ex-BCCI guy. Knowing that, this behavior is totally unsurprising.
 

Genki

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Is anyone else surprised IGN actually put up an article like this? How is this going to affect the relationship between Bethesda and IGN for interviews and such? >_>

Yeah, I have to give them credit for this.

Glad I haven't given Zenimax money. Was close with the id packs on Steam.
 

kidko

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May 30, 2012
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Bethesda should be publicly shamed for this if true.

Doubles as a reminder to get EVERYTHING IN WRITING when doing business. No one is your friend, no one can be trusted when business is on the line. Expect the worst. Protect yourself.
 

Dance Inferno

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Dec 30, 2008
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So this is all pretty scummy of Bethesda. I had originally intended not to support Bethesda games due to their shoddy PS3 port of Skyrim, but now it seems that this company has much, much deeper morality issues to deal with. I'll be supporting Dishonored because I think Arkane did a great job with it, but I will most certainly be limiting my support of other Bethesda games in the future.
 

Spring-Loaded

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I can't believe this isn't a more popular topic on GAF.

Probably just getting lost among E3 hype and Microsoft's console missteps.

Every Prey 2 thread ends up pretty short. this goes a bit deeper than the game itself though; HH not submitting to Bethesda's sharecropping-like strategy is almost like ICO where the first in a long line of sacrifices somehow survives the process
 
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So, if we believe all of this, is this sort of activity legal? It's not some kind of conflict of interest to play good cop/bad cop with a company you're employing?

If this is for real, I'm glad HH didn't cave. This is like a 13 year old knocking down smaller kids on the schoolyard with their right hand and offering to pick them up with the left if they give him their lunch money. It's a shame that others didn't recognize they were already boned and that no matter what they chose the right hand would just keep swinging.
 
Feb 4, 2013
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Surprised this isn't getting more coverage from gaming press. No public pressure on Bethesda so they will continue their crummy ways.
 

Spring-Loaded

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So, if we believe all of this, is this sort of activity legal? It's not some kind of conflict of interest to play good cop/bad cop with a company you're employing?

If this is for real, I'm glad HH didn't cave. This is like a 13 year old knocking down smaller kids on the schoolyard with their right hand and offering to pick them up with the left if they give him their lunch money. It's a shame that others didn't recognize they were already boned and that no matter what they chose the right hand would just keep swinging.

We'll have to ask Phisheep. Going back on unwritten agreements can be illegal, but it sounds like HH assumed Bethesda wasn't legally bound to following it. It's likely too late for that to matter.

And this thread needs more metaphors.
 

Milabrega

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May 20, 2007
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Shame this news dropped just prior to e3 week so its getting overshadowed. Horrible business practice.
 
D

Deleted member 80556

Unconfirmed Member
About fucking time a site blew this up. The people who manage third party developers are complete assholes and make this industry a worse place to be and enjoy.

Everything I read about publishers makes me long even more for the day that the industry crashes. I hope they burn.

The names of the companies might stop being used, but the bastards behind them are still going to manage the new companies that rise. You know that will happen.
 
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