As many of you in the gaming world now know; the infamous publishing behemoth, Sony Online Entertainment, has teamed up with the independent game developer we all know and love, Flying Lab Software. This recent partnership has stirred the kettle of the MMORPG world, and it has many ex-Star Wars Galaxy players infuriated, convinced that Sony Online Entertainment will be ruining Flying Lab Software’s latest title; Pirates of the Burning Sea.
The main argument from the Sony Online Entertainment “haters” is that they believe Sony Online Entertainment will be taking over development from Flying Lab Software, and in the process, “ruin” the game. This argument really has no basis to stake its claim, because a statement made by Russell Williams reads very clearly that the contract between the two companies outlines that Flying Lab Software retains all development rights and intellectual property to Pirates of the Burning Sea. This is a written contract, and as Rusty has stated time and time again, Sony Online Entertainment can only suggest things, they have no ability to dictate anything done to the actual game. This should quell everyone’s worries, and things should be just fine and dandy once again, right?
Wrong. A good majority of these “Sony Haters” just can’t seem to let anything go. Many of them come from the popular title “Star Wars Galaxies”, a MMORPG based on the Star Wars world. These ex-players have made it their mission to defame, flame, and insult Sony Online Entertainment at every turn, regardless of what they are doing. Many of them are upset over a controversial release made to the Star Wars Galaxies world, known to many as “NGE” (New Game Enhancements). This release was made back in November 2005, and many things in the game’s world were changed, much to the dismay of many players in the Star Wars Galaxies world. Ever since this incident, these “Sony Haters” have gone on to; post defaming comments on many message boards that involve Sony Online Entertainment solely for the purpose to bad-mouth them about this incident, badger other companies into finding a new publisher, persuading users to find a new game, and even taken it as far as boycotting Sony products. It makes one wonder, how terrible could this update have possibly been to make an impression that’s lasted nearly two years?
That is something only an ex-Star Wars Galaxy player can answer. Many of them have claimed that the removal of a lot of key features; creature handling, auto-firing, target locking, camera control, and other small, yet important, features. One can only assume how an update to game-play mechanics can possibly leave a two year impression on any gamer, and keep a customer so angry that he or she will go on to denounce the company responsible for this circumstance.
Sony Online Entertainment has attempted to make amends for the new game enhancements on many occasions; they initially offered a refund for people that had purchased the update, they have made public apologies, released statements saying they have learned from their mistakes, and even put their statements to work by trying to release quality updates for other games they are involved with. I would say those actions in itself shows Sony Online Entertainment is well aware that the customer makes them who they are, and they would like to try and make amends.
So, how does this all tie in with Flying Lab Software? Many of these ex-Star Wars Galaxies players have flooded into the Pirates of the Burning Sea official forums, and made numerous snide and defamatory posts. If one truly valued their crusade against a company, I don’t think constantly flaming a company is going to effectively get your point across. The amount of bickering that goes back and forth between pro-Flying Lab Software people and anti-Sony Online Entertainment people has become one of the most heated topics on the boards. Flying Lab Software has been very kind to these users, and they have allowed a topic of gargantuan proportions to exist in their news board. This topic has allowed many users to vent their frustration and concerns, and some of the Flying Lab Software employees have came in to the discussion to offer their insight and opinion. To me, this is a testament to the dedication Flying Lab Software has to their community, and it has done nothing but increase my respect for them. Sony Online Entertainment has even taken the harsh criticism by many fansites very well, and they have not retaliated in any way. Many of us can’t resist a good argument, and the fact that Sony Online Entertainment can take all of this in stride has also given me a profound level of respect for them.
So, is this deal truly a turn for the worst? I believe that this is a progressive move, and hopefully a step in the right direction for both Flying Lab Software and Sony Online Entertainment. Regardless of who is publishing this game, Flying Lab Software deserves the courtesy of its critics playing their creation, Pirates of the Burning Sea, before they go out and bash it.