Alex Navarro reported today on the sentiment issued by the president of Epic Games Mike Capps in regards to Bulletstorm, February's foul-mouthed, crude humoured First-Person Shooter, developed by People Can Fly. Despite the game's inability to sell enough and earn back it's budget, he seems to stand behind it, and damn it, that just doesn't happen enough in Publisher/Developer relations. While it seems like a lot of developers have been shuttered over the past year, it's encouraging to hear this story. Though their debut game with Epic may not have been a stellar commercial success, it was by no means a bad game. Critically well-received and an overall decent time, it was just a title that didn't manage to click very well with the mainstream audience. I played my fair share of the online cooperative mode, Echoes, and got about two thirds of the way through the campaign before I burned out on it. It had it's issues, biggest being that it was such a slow burn, but it was a surprisingly, genuinely stupid fun time and a nice palate cleanse from the modern military FPS.
This makes me excited to see what comes out of the studio next. Mike Capps is clearly still pumped about having this studio and publishing their next game, and who knows what it is that they'll put out next. It could be derivative of Bulletstorm, or maybe something else entirely. Iteration on the mechanics of the game could lead to some very seriously cool things in future projects.
What I keep bringing to mind is EA a few years ago, where they dedicated themselves to putting out some innovative games that were pretty outside of their traditional wheelhouse. The result of this were games like Mirror's Edge and Dead Space. The titles released were very hit-or-miss and led to a super-wonky profit margin for EA, forcing them back to the grindstone of making profitable games and giving up, for at least a time, on innovative, though perhaps not well realized series, such as Mirror's Edge.
In the aftermath of this, it's just really... uplifting to see a developer get this kind of support. While Epic could have said "Whelp! Looks like you're working on Gears 3 DLC until you work off that debt there bud," they went in the entirely other direction and stand behind People Can Fly and their next project. Admittedly, they're pretty much rolling in money at this point between the old UT money, licensing out Unreal and the Gears series that they can probably just shrug off a profit loss like that, but that's not really the point. It's the underlying message -- not all publishers are heartless bastards, not all of them are there to squeeze developers dry of every dollar until they are a withered husk that needs to be disposed of.