July 3, 2022

Secret Developer, Old News?

A short piece. I promise. I’m not very well at the moment.

The Eurogamer “Secret Developer” article is a good read.

Let’s get something out of the way first; I understand the need for anonymity. An aside this weekend saw some XBox Support staff laid off for discussing their job on Kotaku; this is an industry that still prefers to keep the dark and seedy underbelly hidden from view, and criticism of how a project is handled or how much your boss acts like the demonic hellspawn of The Super Devil is often met with a resounding kick out of the door. Not only does this mean a lost job; it often means, thanks to the modern era and better communication between bosses, that people struggle to find similar jobs in the process. Few employers would willingly hire someone who openly defied their company line on press communication; fewer still would hire someone already known to be a whistleblower. Job security is fleeting in the modern age; I more than most know the harsh realities of being judged via measures beyond your control, so I cannot begin to criticise someone for choosing to speak anonymously.

Anonymity in such cases is NOT, as it stands, a terrible thing. But it requires two things; one, a case to be made. Which is fine. The other is something valid to say on the subject, or put in a more pertinent way; something that actually is news, is a new angle or insight into the issue at hand (in this case, Nintendo’s issues getting the Wii U out of the box to start with).

Truth is… The Secret Developer isn’t altogether as secret as it may have hoped to be. The phrasing and information used echoes information and communications already delivered by Criterion, when they discussed the challenges getting Need For Speed: Most Wanted to the platform. This has led to the suspicion that it is indeed someone from Criterion, which may not be surprising considering the recent vacation of studio heads and a little chaos allowing someone the courage and the space to speak.┬áThe problem gets more laughable though when you consider that the similarity in the article is compounded by the Criterion discussion being done via Digital Foundry; which is an arm of Eurogamer, who published The Secret Developer article this weekend!

This is the nub of my problem;

1) Eurogamer covered this a year ago already.
2) It adds nothing particularly new to the debate.

This is my major criticism with the article; and it has nothing to do with the anonymous source who likely only ended up repeating the same phrases as people who work together often do end up using the same or similar terms (I worked with a guy who would always say “Cool Beans!”, and it’s a habit I unfortunately picked up from him. Thanks Marcus. I guess it’s better than when you — the rest of this paragraph has been withheld in the interests of taste, decency and basic humanitarian good. —

Eurogamer cannot be so short of material that they’d end up using the same – or a similar – source to effectively wheel out the same information, at least, I’d hope not. It is also yet to be seen how Eurogamer respond to challenges from developers such as Renegade Kid and┬áNami Tentou, who have come out in support of Nintendo and the Wii U hardware, and Slightly Mad Studios, who is taking multi-platform development of the promising Project Cars in its stride (a game, incidentally, to run on Wii U, PS4 and XBox One, so it is a developer I’d be interested in hearing the opinions of in terms of multiplatform development!). As of yet, they have not done so. I hope they do.

The job of a journalist is, after all, to separate fact from hearsay. One persons comments are rarely indicative of a wider trend, especially if they’re a repeat of what has already been stated before.

Nor, as it seems, did Eurogamer give Nintendo the proper right of rebuttal; a schoolboy error, I’m sure, but no less important to point out. When you have a whistleblower, it is sometimes good manners to just tell the targeted company you’re running the story and if they have anything they’d like to add. Oftentimes, this is simply either “No Comment”, or “We do not comment on rumours and speculation”, but still; it’s the decent thing to do. The lack of mention of this troubles me somewhat; Eurogamer has made many silly journalistic mistakes over the years. It remains to be seen if this is another one to add to their pile.

But aside that, the main thing to remind people is that this is a more widespread issue; as I stated in the article, the way it was written is sublime and it is interesting but unless Eurogamer intends to capitalise on it with a rebuttal from another perspective, it’s only ever a blunt stick with which to beat Nintendo. And considering it already ran a story similar to it a year ago, it’s a cheeky and unnecessary clone of the same stick, not that many will remember the original article or indeed, care about the quality and source of the stick in which they are beating Nintendo. As long as you can beat them with it, who cares where it comes from, or how much messy doo-doo it’s covered in?

A healthy amount of criticism is needed for all the new consoles; I’m not asking for people to stop criticising Nintendo. Actually, far from it. Just take it as one side of a complex and wide-ranging discussion on the Wii U, where it has been and indeed, where it is headed – the latter an issue I’m more interested in at this moment in time. And don’t wilfully ignore that Sony is quiet on PS4 games on the horizon; same with Microsoft. The silence is somewhat notable.

I guess I’d just rather see some progression to this debate; a stagnant argument always smells terrible, after all, and makes a much nastier mess.


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