Obsidian Lost Bonus for Fallout: New Vegas by One Metacritic Point

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Obsidian Lost Bonus for Fallout: New Vegas by One Metacritic Point

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If sites like "Armchair Empire" and "Gamekult" had rated the game just a teensy bit higher, Obsidian would have walked away with a financial bonus for its work on New Vegas.

Deals between game publishers and developers are just as varied as one might find in any other production business, though the details that comprise them often never come to light. In the case of Fallout: New Vegas, the community recently got some rare insight from Chris Avellone, the co-owner of Obsidian, as to the nature of their arrangement with publisher Bethesda. According to a recent Tweet, his company's work on the post-apocalyptic RPG was to be a one-time payment unless the game garnered a positive response on review aggregator Metacritic.

"[Fallout: New Vegas] was a straight payment, no royalties, only a bonus if we got an 85+ on Metacritic, which we didn't," Avellone wrote. If you're a fan of New Vegas, or of people getting paid well for hard work, this admission is made more poignantly gloomy by the fact that it reached an 84, just one point away from the extra compensation. The bonus was likely a big deal for Obsidian, considering that the developer doesn't see one cent on a per sale basis.

Avellone's disclosure comes just one day after the reported wave of Obsidian staff layoffs, said to include over thirty people, some of who were reportedly just hired between one and seven days before the sweep. The firings came joined with the news that the studio had cancelled development on a next-gen project (codenamed "North Carolina") and its continued progress on the recently announced South Park RPG remains unclear.

Source: Joystiq

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What kind of backwards bullshit business deal is that? Is this common? For fucks sake gaming industry, forget about Metracritic scores! They are meaningless as many of the publications are bought off anyway (looking at you, Gamespot and IGN). This makes me sick.

from now on every single game reviewer should give every game a 10/10, just write a honest review and give the game a ten regardless of what was actually said in the written review.

Fappy:
What kind of backwards bullshit business deal is that? Is this common? For fucks sake gaming industry, forget about Metracritic scores! They are meaningless as many of the publications are bought off anyway (looking at you, Gamespot and IGN). This makes me sick.

Agreed. Why wouldn't you reward a bonus for sales? You know, the metric every other IP-based industry uses for success? I thought this was capitalism, not a popularity contest.

Fappy:
What kind of backwards bullshit business deal is that? Is this common? For fucks sake gaming industry, forget about Metracritic scores! They are meaningless as many of the publications are bought off anyway (looking at you, Gamespot and IGN). This makes me sick.

Quality incentives gives the studio reason to polish and perfect the product to a higher grade. Metacritic, being an aggregate of multiple other review scores, provides the closest thing to an objective measurement of quality. In other words, 1 or 2 abnormal score (high or low) could be a simply an abnormal instance, reviewer bias, or even bribery, but an aggregate score provides a more effective total view of the game in the eyes of reviewers.

My concern would be a publisher, in a close case like this, could bribe a single or few reviewers in order to push the score below the threshold in order to screw over a studio out of a bonus.

EDIT:

Falseprophet:

Fappy:
What kind of backwards bullshit business deal is that? Is this common? For fucks sake gaming industry, forget about Metracritic scores! They are meaningless as many of the publications are bought off anyway (looking at you, Gamespot and IGN). This makes me sick.

Agreed. Why wouldn't you reward a bonus for sales? You know, the metric every other IP-based industry uses for success? I thought this was capitalism, not a popularity contest.

Because the publisher is in charge of sales. You never put the power to reward based on sales in the hands of someone who determines sales. You'd end up with the publisher purposely shipping a lower than threshold number to screw over the studio.

Do you think that there was some backdoor deals to keep the score down to not have to pay the bonuses?

I honestly can't find a way to accurately describe how much bullshit this truly is. Seriously what kind of fucked up deal is this, it is honestly like a teacher saying to a class' "well if the average curve of the test grades are above 85 there will be bonus points awarded." Metacritic is more for the consumer not the developer it's where you go so you can easily access reviews from many different sources, the average is just that an average and averages can be screwed up easily with just a few extremely low numbers.

/rant end.

Imagine if Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 didn't have high metacritic scores. It sold truckloads. But ONE TINY METACRITIC SCORE OFF. No bonus for u!

>_>

The Gentleman:

Fappy:
What kind of backwards bullshit business deal is that? Is this common? For fucks sake gaming industry, forget about Metracritic scores! They are meaningless as many of the publications are bought off anyway (looking at you, Gamespot and IGN). This makes me sick.

Quality incentives gives the studio reason to polish and perfect the product to a higher grade. Metacritic, being an aggregate of multiple other review scores, provides the closest thing to an objective measurement of quality. In other words, 1 or 2 abnormal score (high or low) could be a simply an abnormal instance, reviewer bias, or even bribery, but an aggregate score provides a more effective total view of the game in the eyes of reviewers.

My concern would be a publisher, in a close case like this, could bribe a single or few reviewers in order to push the score below the threshold in order to screw over a studio out of a bonus.

Or the publisher could be in charge of QA for the game and drop the ball...

Really, Metacritic should die. It's not its fault that it is used the way it is, but that's something that will never change until it's out of the picture. It's not objective. It's not even close to objective, it's just an illusion of it. It averages opinions. It's just opinion stew.

Falseprophet:

Fappy:
What kind of backwards bullshit business deal is that? Is this common? For fucks sake gaming industry, forget about Metracritic scores! They are meaningless as many of the publications are bought off anyway (looking at you, Gamespot and IGN). This makes me sick.

Agreed. Why wouldn't you reward a bonus for sales? You know, the metric every other IP-based industry uses for success? I thought this was capitalism, not a popularity contest.

Capitalism isn't a popularity contest now all of a sudden? Did I miss the memo?

Although I have to agree that this should be based on sales not Metacritics scores, or they could at least look into the scores since some sites doesn't have the rating scale from 1-10/1-100. A 4 star review here is considered a great score, but on a scale that goes to 100 it's equivalent to 80.

I find this news and the layoffs so depressing. Obsidian is a studio that would actually benefit so much from growing as a company; if they had enough people to properly test their games and complete everything before the deadline so that there aren't any more obviously rushed endings, I think they would probably be the perfect developer. They would certainly be far and away the best RPG developer.

It's especially funny because Bethesda could've payed Review sites to give the game exact scores so it can be exactly below 85%, both the PC and Xbox360 versions of the game are exactly at 84%.

Shamed be he who thinks evil of that.

This is fucking bullshit.

Metacritic is designed to be a consumer tool. If publishers and developers want to use it to gauge critical reaction to a game, fair enough, but it is designed to be a tool for gamers to let them know roughly how well reviewed a game is. It is not a perfect system. For instance, if there is no numerical score attached to a review, Metacritic will blithely stick one of their own on, therefore skewing the numbers.

More importantly: New Vegas sold a metric shit-ton. Well over 5 million copies across all platforms, according to VG Chartz.

When publishers are judging the success of a game, sales numbers should always be first port of call. New Vegas was a complete and utter success in that regard. Very few games outside of military shooters can claim to sell more than a couple of million copies. For an RPG to sell over 5 million is an astounding success. Obsidian should be rewarded for that. After all, it is their game which Bethesda is reaping the profits of, and quite a few developers at Obsidian are the very people who made the Fallout series what it is in the first place.

If Bethesda ever deigned to read community feedback on New Vegas, they'd see that while the consensus is that it's a buggy game (which is Bethesda's fault, seeing as they took charge of QA and bug-testing), it's also a much better Fallout game than 3 ever was, with a far stronger story, fewer plot-holes, better subtext, more thoughtful moral and ethical issues, better gameplay additions, and a general intelligence that the third game was sorely lacking in places. Fallout 3 brought the series into the 21st century, but it was New Vegas that managed to reach out to both new fans of the series and old. That in itself is a resounding success.

This is damn frustrating, if only because it lessens the chances of Obsidian ever getting the chance to work on another Fallout game again. And considering that Tim Cain, one of the creators of Fallout, just joined Obsidian, that would be downright criminal.

When is the industry going to get its shit together and sort out some unions for developers? Shit like this wouldn't fly in an industry where ordinary developers have people looking out for them and protecting their interests from corporate greed.

DustyDrB:
Or the publisher could be in charge of QA for the game and drop the ball...

Quality assurance (i.e. alpha and beta testing) is better handled in house. If something is bad, it takes less time (and therefore, money) to fix if the person finding the problem is already in the studio. The quality clause in this contract (which is what we're referring to) provides an assurance that the product they would be getting is off the minimum desired quality.

DustyDrB:
Really, Metacritic should die. It's not its fault that it is used the way it is, but that's something that will never change until it's out of the picture. It's not objective. It's not even close to objective, it's just an illusion of it. It averages opinions. It's just opinion stew.

What do you propose in it's place? There has to be something that provides a measurement other than sales to determine the quality of the game. Very high quality games can easily have low sales (see Psychonauts) while low quality games can have massive sales (see Duke Nukem Forever). The problem is that quality is an opinion. I think that Indigo Prophecy is a high quality game and that Skyrim is a medium quality game. There is no objective measurement of quality, ergo, you're going to get a lot of subjective results. A general score determined by the aggregate of hundreds of other scores is the closest you can get to an objective measurement of quality.

Metacritic is what we have now. Until a better system comes along, it is what we have.

RoseArch:
Imagine if Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 didn't have high metacritic scores. It sold truckloads. But ONE TINY METACRITIC SCORE OFF. No bonus for u!

>_>

Would anything have changed?

Anyways, This just goes to show that Numerical scores are for reviews can and will fuck people over.

Yopaz:

Falseprophet:

Agreed. Why wouldn't you reward a bonus for sales? You know, the metric every other IP-based industry uses for success? I thought this was capitalism, not a popularity contest.

Capitalism isn't a popularity contest now all of a sudden? Did I miss the memo?

Well let me put it this way: Do you think Justin Bieber's record label cares about all the hate he gets from people who wouldn't buy his albums anyway when he's had three #1 albums and gone double-platinum all over the world?

WanderingFool:

RoseArch:
Imagine if Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 didn't have high metacritic scores. It sold truckloads. But ONE TINY METACRITIC SCORE OFF. No bonus for u!

>_>

Would anything have changed?

Anyways, This just goes to show that Numerical scores are for reviews can and will fuck people over.

I've hated the scoring system for years. A number tells you nothing and offers no real context.

If you actually needed that bonus from New Vegas, you shouldn't have let it ride on the Metacritic score in the first place. How much of a joker do you have to be to agree to that and not a per sales rate? Don't come whaling to me when that blows up in your face. I know I shouldn't rube it in, but still.

I'm just imagining Bethesda execs sitting in a board room looking at the metacritic score for Skyrim and saying "oh well 96, Bonuses for us!"

That's sad though given the number of hours I sank into F:NV I feel they earned a little extra.

On the one hand fallout NV was a great game.

On the other hand fallout NV was a very buggy game.

I believe that 84 is right around what FO NV deserved. If they needed 70 and they got 69 I would say that's bullshit they deserved the money and a higher score. But it is arguable whether they actually hit a 85 or not, hence can't side one way or the other.

At the end of the day, never leave it in the hands of the judges.

This better not be common practice, because I think that's bullshit.

I will say though that the 1% they didn't get may have had something to do with the massive amount of bugs that the game suffered from. I bought the game when it was released and haven't played it till recently because of a fatal freeze/crash the prevented me from playing.

Looks like Jim Sterling was right again.

I think this is pretty much word for word one of the reasons the Jimquisition mentioned why piracy doesn't have the stigma attached. None of the money you spend was going to the developers and the publishers treat them like crap.

Metacritic strikes again. Nice to see that pile of shit site is still in the business of fucking thing up with its attempts at relevancy. Why people/buinesses continue to rely on it for any kind of accurate stats is beyond me. The day that crap dies will be a better day for all. Publisher wins this round. I don't feel sorry for anyone on the developers end who entered a business deal based on metacritic. I do however feel bad for the poor employees who got screwed and laid off by this.

Ahh...Obsidian, making even BUGGIER, half-assed, sequels to already buggy games.

Falseprophet:

Yopaz:

Falseprophet:

Agreed. Why wouldn't you reward a bonus for sales? You know, the metric every other IP-based industry uses for success? I thought this was capitalism, not a popularity contest.

Capitalism isn't a popularity contest now all of a sudden? Did I miss the memo?

Well let me put it this way: Do you think Justin Bieber's record label cares about all the hate he gets from people who wouldn't buy his albums anyway when he's had three #1 albums and gone double-platinum all over the world?

So you are claiming Justin Bieber isn't popular? Things sell because they are popular, the more popular something is, the more it sells. Thus capitalism is a popularity contest.

Tanis:
Ahh...Obsidian, making even BUGGIER, half-assed, sequels to already buggy games.

I don't know what universe you live in, but New Vegas isn't nearly as buggy as it was a few years ago. Upon release, yes, it was buggier than Fallout 3, but after the patches and DLC started rolling in, Obsidian refined the game so that it was actually well-optimized for the engine.

Falseprophet:

Fappy:
What kind of backwards bullshit business deal is that? Is this common? For fucks sake gaming industry, forget about Metracritic scores! They are meaningless as many of the publications are bought off anyway (looking at you, Gamespot and IGN). This makes me sick.

Agreed. Why wouldn't you reward a bonus for sales? You know, the metric every other IP-based industry uses for success? I thought this was capitalism, not a popularity contest.

Tbh, I can see what they were (probably) trying to go for. It would be quite nice if studios were rewarded for making GOOD games rather than making games which appeal to the broadest possible range of people.

The problem with that is its very hard to measure critical acclaim, Metacritic is the best we have but it isn't good enough.

Tanis:
Ahh...Obsidian, making even BUGGIER, half-assed, sequels to already buggy games.

Granted it was buggy, but "half-assed"?!?! I've really got to disagree with you here. This game took the work fallout 3 started and completed it. Factions, hardcore mode, a more populated map, a more intriguing story, by far better dlc. If they'd been given more time to deveop it like they asked for the bugs would probably have been worked out. (Bethesda did not grant an extension to the deadline).

happy_turtle:
I think this is pretty much word for word one of the reasons the Jimquisition mentioned why piracy doesn't have the stigma attached. None of the money you spend was going to the developers and the publishers treat them like crap.

That's also one of the main reasons that online pass & day 1 dlc pisses me off: you know the devs don't see any of that money. It goes to the bean counters that come up with crap like that.

I only hope that one of the recent firings at obsidian was of the moron who agreed to this metacritic stipulation.

GonzoGamer:

happy_turtle:
I think this is pretty much word for word one of the reasons the Jimquisition mentioned why piracy doesn't have the stigma attached. None of the money you spend was going to the developers and the publishers treat them like crap.

That's also one of the main reasons that online pass & day 1 dlc pisses me off: you know the devs don't see any of that money. It goes to the bean counters that come up with crap like that.

I only hope that one of the recent firings at obsidian was of the moron who agreed to this metacritic stipulation.

The guy who agreed to the metacritic stipulation was probably one of the higher-up executive types, who certainly wouldn't get fired in a layoff like this.

Whatever the case may be, Bethesda, not Obsidian, deserves the blame for this.

Maybe if they didnt make such an ass backwards mess of a buggy game, or hell, even patched it as quickly as the unpaid PC community managed to... but to be honest I personally rated this game a 50% because at release, thats how much was available without me running into a major bug or crashing my console.

Im going to be in the minority but, to me sounds like a good idea, I cant imagine the bonus was a major sum of money and they would have been paid well for their work anyway, its just an extra incentive to do a good job, don't feel sorry for people who have 3 houses and 12 cars people!! all of that cash would have gone to the privileged people up top.

Tanis:
Ahh...Obsidian, making even BUGGIER, half-assed, sequels to already buggy games.

Bethesda did the bugtesting for New Vegas.

Holy crap, basing how much you get payed on METACRITIC of all things. That's sad. Really, really sad.

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