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Hey, I Can Answer That One! It Sucks!

Massively indulges in industry favorite pastime: nerd raging.

So, NCsoft, how does it feel to absolutely lie through your teeth to players and staff about Tabula Rasa?

You know, sometimes I wonder if some of the people who get access to posting things on the Intarwebs actually have, you know, held positions of any responsibility. Ever. I mean – come on. What did the author expect to happen?

HARD-HITTIN’ GAME JOURNALIST: So, NCsoft, you just laid off a dozen people, cancelled projects, and we’ve read in the Korean media that the entire future of your office may be in danger. Any comment?

 

PR FLACK: …You know, I never thought of it that way. You’re right. Crap. We’re doomed! Probably going to cancel our remaining games too, so stop sending us money. Damn. I’m updating my LinkedIn right now. Excuse me, it’s TEQUILA O’CLOCK. (falls under desk)

HHGJ: (shouts under desk) Is this going to affect Tabula Rasa’s patch schedule?

Of course Tabula Rasa’s future was in doubt. ‘Doubt’ being the key phrase. If it was ‘assured to be cancelled’ instead of ‘doubt’, NCsoft would have laid everyone off instead of, you know, paying them to work. Instead, the team was given a chance to turn grim subscriber numbers around. It didn’t happen, and the project was cancelled.

 

Note other key phrases: “grim subscriber numbers turned around” and “did not happen”. This decision wasn’t taken by NCsoft so much as dictated to it by the market. NCsoft’s subscriber numbers for Tabula Rasa were *extremely low* (Most estimates placed it at 30,000) which, while it might sustain a skeletal development team and a token server (as SOE has done for titles in its stable), has no hope of recouping its huge development cost. Generally, when that happens? Heads roll.

MMOs are not charities. Companies are not obligated out of duty to keep a game running for you and your 12 closest friends if no one else is playing it. Yes, it sucks that you can’t play it any more. Guess what: it sucks a little more that everyone working on it lost their jobs. And that has a little more meaning to me than nerd ragings that deny common sense market realities.

(1:22p CST edit) And just because I can, another point: if gaming media is going to put on their robe and wizard hat and LARP at being HARD HITTIN’ GAME JOURNALISTS, maybe they should, you know, try to find things out instead of lapping at the milk dish of public relations press releases. Take this exchange currently on Massively:

From our perspective, from the readers of Massively we just feel like there is a little bit of confusion. We spoke with Mr. Reid just two months ago, and the headline we used was ‘Tabula Rasa is Triple-A and here to stay‘. It just seems like it has been a quick turnaround in two months from ‘we have every confidence in this game going forward’ to ‘we have to shut the game down.’ Has something happened in the last two months that prompted this?

 

Mr. Swofford: My reaction is that definitely at the time we thought we had something good going on … we had the Operation Immortality promotion going, things were looking good, the team was working on the product. As David said, we considered it a Triple-A level product for the company. Things do change. I think he also said, and I’ll reiterate, that we’re constantly looking at projects. It’s not like you have them out there and you let them go for a while, we’re constantly monitoring them and weighing them against the success that they’re having against the current market.

I think things changed quite a bit since when you did that interview. Thank you for clarifying that – it’s good to be able to get that explained, there was definitely a sense of confusion on the site.

Well, gee. Let me boil that down into its operant parts:

Hey, your guys told us a couple months ago everything was hunky dory and nothing was wrong. Now you cancelled the game and made us look like chumps. Dude. WTF?

 

This is the operative statement. The others are inoperative.

Oh. OK.

Thanks a lot, Woodward.

 

Is expecting investigative journalism of hobbyist bloggers too much to ask? Maybe, although I have to wonder how much “investigative journalism” it would have taken for someone to ask how long NCsoft could continue to support a $50 million dollar game that had about the same number of subscribers as a game that was developed using some string and spare copier paper down the hall.

But for crying out loud, if you’re going to just reprint press releases, don’t whine about how life is unfair when those press releases turn around and bite you on the ass when they become “inoperative”.