Today started out so well. The Nintendo Direct video actually had me feeling eager for the Wii U's upcoming year and has secured my interest in purchasing one. Nintendo is making games! And as usual, the games they are making look tempting and delightful.
Then the THQ fire sale happened. Everything must go! Only, it didn't. One studio was left abandoned, ignored, deserted.
The fact that Vigil Games was not purchased has just...it has made me hate this industry for the time being. Everything. Everything about video games that does not involve playing them. I hate the people that play video games. I hate the people that write about them. Most of all, I hate the men who control the money and decide what is "best" for video games.
See, funny thing. When the Oscars roll around you typically hear from film buffs or Internet film critics about how the Academy really is a bunch of old white guys (hence why the only person to get an acting nomination in Django Unchained was a white guy (I mean, did no one else see Samuel L. Jackson? He reminded everyone that, yes, he can play more than just the Bad Ass Mother Fucker!)). However, even Hollywood seems to understand talent.
Take Christopher Nolan for example. Before he made his mark with Batman Begins he made smaller movies like Memento, Insomnia and Following, which hardly sold a ton of tickets (I'm not even sure when/where Following was released, as I never heard of it until Netflix (by the way, if you dug Memento, check it out). None of his movies suggested he'd be good at your typical Blockbuster shlock.
Yet they allowed him reigns with Batman Begins, and he did so well that he was basically given free reign to make a film like Inception. A film that made summer blockbuster dollars even though it is a "smart" movie.
Or let's take a director like Edgar Wright. He made cult films like Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, but again, no big splash. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World failed to meet expectations. In the video game world, that one failure would cause your studio to collapse. In film, it gets you another movie and then you can direct Marvel's Ant Man. Oh, and writing credits on The Adventures of Tintin as directed by Steven fucking Spielberg.
Then there is Neil Blomkamp, chosen to direct the Halo film even though he had done nothing more than short films before that (and even though Halo fell apart, he was still given a good budget and marketing push for District 9). Same could possibly be said for Guillermo del Toro, where Hellboy and Pan's Labyrinth never lit any fires and yet now he's been given free reign and a big budget to put out Pacific Rim, a movie about giant monsters fighting giant robots. That's as risky as risky gets, and in the summer at that.
For as much as people hate on film, good talent is at least acknowledged and given a chance. It's true that Guillermo del Toro hasn't built up enough good will to get At the Mountains of Madness greenlit, but it is still amazing to see him making a live action Kaiju film, especially after films like Skyline failed (and, quite frankly, were crap). It shows that talent means a lot, even if what you create doesn't generate a lot of money.
So now we go to the games industry, and today Vigil Games was passed over. No one bought them. No one. At all.
Don't get me wrong, this isn't merely about Darksiders. I'm used to seeing good games fail to get sequels, such as Star Wars: Republic Commando and Metal Arms: Glitch in the System. But those studios managed to keep their jobs. I could accept the Darksiders IP dying today. It would make me sad, but I can accept it. The problem is that Vigil was clearly a good studio.
Think about it. Darksiders managed to blend excellent ideas from a variety of games into a great package. The first Darksiders was like Zelda, but it also had too great an emphasis on combat. Yet the combat wasn't too much like God of War. Then you had the Prince of Persia explorations, which only became stronger in the sequel. While all of this gameplay was familiar, putting it all together made Darksiders a wholly unique and fresh experience.
More than that, however, the game was incredibly polished. Both of them, in fact. Darksiders 2 wasn't quite as polished as the first, but for as large as the games were there was very little in the way of bugs or glitches. Compare this to the broken state Bethesda and Rockstar get away with and I'd say Vigil has a near perfect record.
Yet Darksiders isn't a high-selling IP. As such, no one is interested. Warhammer 40K, Saint's Row, Metro: Last Light, even Homefront 2. We know these games all have a market, or at least a potential market. That is what sets them apart, and that is also why those studios were sold. After all, it would just cost more to try and teach the code to a new team (you'd end up repeating Starcraft: Ghost all over again). No one was after the studios, though. If they were, Vigil would have been purchased.
No, they were merely looking for IP, and the studios came along as necessity.
Our industry cannot acknowledge when a group of people do a job well done. The people that make the game are meaningless, in fact. In the eyes of the money holders, at least. Now we have Vigil saying goodbye while the head of Platinum Games Executive Director Inaba mentions being interested in the IP "if it's cheap enough". A studio meant for scrotum crushing difficult action games is considering taking Darksiders, a franchise that is not that kind of action game.
I had to drink tonight. I had to get some whiskey in me so I could be less depressed. It didn't work, as I never got drunk and I remain depressed. But I am just so upset to see so many good, talented people lose their jobs.
It is the implication of it all. Good games didn't sell well, and as a result a bunch of talented people that worked well together are now separate and out of a job. That, friends, is a tragedy.
Good-bye, Vigil. I can only hope you all come together some day, somehow.view gallery