THQ Creative Director Opens Up About Iron Lore

THQ Creative Director Opens Up About Iron Lore

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THQ Creative Director Michael Fitch has shed some light on the recent closure of Titan Quest developer Iron Lore Entertainment, laying the blame squarely at the feet of piracy, hardware vendors and "stupid people."

In a post on the Quarter To Three forums, Fitch said that rampant game piracy was primarily responsible not only for the downfall of Iron Lore, but for the increasing difficulty faced by independent development studios in the PC market. Describing how a cracked copy of Iron Lore's debut game, Titan Quest, hit the net prior to its release, he explained that a quest-keyed security check would dump players out of the game if they had a pirated copy. "So, it's a couple days before release, and I start seeing people on the forums complaining about how buggy the game is, how it crashes all the time," he said. "A lot of people are talking about how it crashes right when you come out of the first cave. Yeah, that's right. There was a security check there."

"So, before the game even comes out, we've got people bad-mouthing it because their pirated copies crash, even though a legitimate copy won't," he continued. "For a game that doesn't have a Madden-sized advertising budget, word of mouth is your biggest hope, and here we are, before the game even releases, getting bashed to hell and gone by people who can't even be bothered to actually pay for the game. What was the ultimate impact of that? Hard to measure, but it did get mentioned in several reviews. Think about that the next time you read 'we didn't have any problems running the game, but there are reports on the internet that people are having crashes'."

Hardware manufacturers also suffered Fitch's wrath, who he blamed for putting out hardware "with little or no driver support, marginal adherence to standards, and sometimes bizarre conflicts with other hardware." "Put together consumers who want the cheapest equipment possible with the best performance, manufacturers who don't give a shit what happens to their equipment once they ship it, and assemblers who need to work their margins everywhere possible, and you get a lot of shitty hardware out there, in innumerable configurations that you can't possibly test against," he said. "But, it's always the game's fault when something doesn't work."

Continuing that theme, Fitch moved on to the PC gaming audience, including reviewers. "There's a lot of stupid people out there," he said. "Now, don't get wrong, there's a lot of very savvy people out there, too, and there were some great folks in the TQ community who helped us out a lot. But, there's a lot of stupid people. Basic, basic stuff, like updating your drivers, or de-fragging your hard drive, or having antivirus so your machine isn't a teetering pile of rogue programs. PC folks want to have the freedom to do whatever the hell they want with their machines, and god help them they will do it; more power to them, really. But god forbid something that they've done - or failed to do - creates a problem with your game. There are few better examples of the "it can't possibly be my fault" culture in the west than gaming forums."

"Titan Quest did okay. We didn't lose money on it," he said. "But if even a tiny fraction of the people who pirated the game had actually spent some god-damn money for their 40+ hours of entertainment, things could have been very different today. You can bitch all you want about how piracy is your god-given right, and none of it matters anyway because you can't change how people behave... whatever. Some really good people made a seriously good game, and they might still be in business if piracy weren't so rampant on the PC. That's a fact."

Fitch's refreshingly honest commentary about the demise of Iron Lore and the challenges facing the PC gaming industry can be read in its entirety here.

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i have a lil crush on this guy now, i'll admit it.

Preach on brotha man!

One small correction here. Michael Fitch is not the CEO of THQ, that's Brian Ferral. Michael Fitch is the Director of Creative Management.

Thanks for the correction, the article has been changed accordingly. Apologies for the mix-up.

Got to love THQ and its games. Ive only had 1 issues with them, Supream commander was a pain to get online (legit copy, THQ is far to awsum to want to pirate)...and who gives a shit about this when its rivals (such as EA) bring out shitty low budget games with crap interface, graphics and logic (such as hell gate London).

Always buy THQ, their like the new Westwood...what ever happened to them?

Westwood was purchased by EA and eventually dissolved (although a lot of the staff went to EA LA).

Anyway, that was an interesting read. PC gaming faces many challenges currently, hardware conflicts, complicated installations/copyright protections, piracy, hardware pricing, etc.. I'm really not sure how big a problem piracy is, considering all of the other issues at play, but I'm sure it is one.

What always strikes me as sad though is that games, good games, get more expensive to make, and PC market is so small next to the console market. Many supposedly hardcore gamers turn around and pirate games and help nudge sales down further, as if trying to further sideline PC gaming. Trying to kill what they say they love, it seems.

Totally agree with the anti-piracy sentiments. Ruining their own industry /golfclap

Ha, what an awesome guy. I suppose piracy is to blame this time though...

Pity they went under, I loved their games.

On the other note, when you consider how Ubisoft's bugful Alone in the Dark boosted their quarterly sales... you may want to drop a tear.

EDIT: "Detail" of importance: the security check which crashed your game was NOT followed by a message properly describing it as a security measure. Basically, it looked, walked and sounded like a duck. But was not.

Piracy is bad, no arguing here, but so is retarded design.

THQ Creative Director Michael Fitch has shed some light on the recent closure of Titan Quest developer Iron Lore Entertainment, laying the blame squarely at the feet of piracy, hardware vendors and "stupid people."

So it had nothing to do with Iron Lore's last game being shit? Huh. News to me. I would have thought that would have factored in somewhere.

Blayze:

THQ Creative Director Michael Fitch has shed some light on the recent closure of Titan Quest developer Iron Lore Entertainment, laying the blame squarely at the feet of piracy, hardware vendors and "stupid people."

So it had nothing to do with Iron Lore's last game being shit? Huh. News to me. I would have thought that would have factored in somewhere.

It seems the game got good reviews left and right.
Do we have to enter the debate of the reliability of reviews?
Instead of saying it's shit, maybe we could consider the possibility that it wasn't seen as aspiring, teasing, original or else, and people would walk past the shelf without picking one copy. You know, the clone syndrome thing going on. Plus what kind of media coverage did it get?

What is he taking about? Iron Whore? Never heard of it. Sounds like robo porn...

At least he had SOME example about piracy affecting them, I mean damn - is that hard to give some evidence? He didn't have to go to [torrentsite] and do calculations or anything, he just had to talk about what happened with Titan Quest, an example, and that's good enough.

I didn't know IronLore was shut down because of piracy though (especially since most developers just made a console title as well), I thought they just quit..that's it... - because Soulstorm, albeit one of the worst of the DoW Bunch, did well enough to support them since..well.. it's frikin' DoW and had Beta Keys to DoW2! I'm shocked that they are gone due to frikin' pirates, I still find that hard to believe and I'm not sure I even believe it entirely.

Heck I'm surprised this is being put out as "game news" - it sounds like a rant on a customer service worker's blog (doesn't make it any less credible or anything, I mean, the guy is right, pirates need to be sunk).

It seems the game got good reviews left and right.
Do we have to enter the debate of the reliability of reviews?

I reviewed the game myself. It's on the User Reviews forum, if you'd care to take a look. If we do enter the debate of review reliability, you have to place these other reviews you're mentioning under the same scrutiny as my own.

Blayze:

It seems the game got good reviews left and right.
Do we have to enter the debate of the reliability of reviews?

I reviewed the game myself. It's on the User Reviews forum, if you'd care to take a look. If we do enter the debate of review reliability, you have to place these other reviews you're mentioning under the same scrutiny as my own.

I rarely check that forum. Got a link by chance?

Malygris:
There are few better examples of the "it can't possibly be my fault" culture in the west than gaming forums.

Oh god yes. This and this a thousand times over. I can't tell you how many times I've heard people bitch about Vista only to tell them that it's their fault for the fuck-up and not the operating system.

It runs both ways, though. This Michael Fitch has blamed everybody and everything bar THQ and Iron Lore for Iron Lore's demise.

 

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