Monday, December 14, 2009

Toki & the state of the French industry

October 28 2009, an article appears on Gamasutra, announcing that a freshly established French studio acquired the rights to resurrect Toki.
Well Toki Juju actually, if you care being accurate enough. One of those awesome action 2D platformers that have fallen into oblivion for no good real reason. Funny thing that while posting my comments at Gamasutra, I came to think of past platform hits, and Mr. Nutz had been a jewel.
Not surprising, somehow, since Philippe Dessoly, member of the newborn studio, was apparently responsible of the design of the character on two different consoles.
Well, we can certainly wish them lots of luck and courage, at least they seem to have a strong project at hand.
That contrasts a lot with the somehow stuck in Limbo attempt to rejuvenate Turrican, unfortunately. :(

Anyway, that's fine and all, but I'd like to address something else. Something which might be important.
I've been waiting a couple months now to see if the bit below would at least get the video game press or even communities pick the following bit from Gamasutra's article:

I thought I knew the industry well, but I was wrong, and it's a little like a select club where you need to be known to enter.

You don't say! I had the opportunity to compare a few but important industries, and the conclusion is that, indeed, French one is extremely selective to the insane point it kills itself, and that doesn't guarantee quality either.

People tend to focus on the flowery picture composed by the very few big front names like Ubisoft, perhaps Quantic Dreams and, say, Eden Games (yes, they're French studios, despite the names, I swear).
Ubisoft, we know where this goes. The bulk of their best titles is not produced in France anymore. What their branch near Paris mostly does is that silly shit with the rabbits.
Quantic Dreams maintains its head above the waters, despite its constant +100 staff, surviving without selling more than one game every three or four years, thanks to ancillary revenues, counting the motion capture studio.
Eden Games is perhaps, in terms of big names, what may come closer to a typical big studio, and they had some recent hits under their hood, but were subject to large pressures nonetheless, which somehow, among other internal design issues, explains the Alone in the Dark case.

Without getting into obscure licenses yet, you have Nadeo and their Trackmania series, largely surviving through sequelitis, and still recently bought.
You have Monte Cristo, held by business men, a studio which despite a lackluster catalog, manages to get some spotlight for its next sort of MMO City-thing. Tales say that internally, it's all very rotten.

Then you fall into the very niche games, obscure titles, or very small structures. Arkedo is one of the most pleasant recent successes with their Nervous Brickdown for example.

Perhaps there's something worth chewing here, journos? Dontcha think?

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