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 The Last Guardian  'Cancellation' Could Be Costly For Sony
The Last Guardian 'Cancellation' Could Be Costly For Sony
December 22, 2011 | By Tom Curtis, Frank Cifaldi

December 22, 2011 | By Tom Curtis, Frank Cifaldi
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing

On Thursday, major U.S. video game retailer GameStop mistakenly told its customers that Sony's The Last Guardian was cancelled, a move that could be costly for both companies.

Both companies have since clarified to Gamasutra that the game is, in fact, still in production, but if a significant amount of those customers do not opt back in to purchase the game, Sony could lose a significant amount of revenue on the already troubled title.

Customers who had pre-ordered The Last Guardian through the retailer received an automated call on Thursday letting them know that the game was cancelled, and that that their preorder purchase would be refunded. The game was also removed from the company's database, both on its website and, according to the locations we called, in stores.

Speaking to Gamasutra, a company representative says that the game was removed from its system due to it lacking a firm release date, not because the company believes the game to be cancelled. Apparently its automated system defaults to telling pre-order customers that a game is cancelled once this happens.

"The Last Guardian has not been cancelled by Sony as we incorrectly stated in an automated call to reservation customers. Because the game did not have a specific release date, GameStop made the decision to remove the game from our system," GameStop's Larin Nixon told Gamasutra. "The Last Guardian will be reinstated for pre-order when a firm launch date is known."

Nixon did not clarify when asked if the company might try to wrangle these customers back in through any kind of outreach. GameStop also declined to say how many pre-orders were affected by this communication error.

Additionally, Sony has not responded to requests for both pre-order numbers or a reaction to the news.

Sony's oft-delayed The Last Guardian has seen some additional shakeups over the last few weeks. Earlier this month, the game's producer, Yoshifusa Hayama, left to join social games company Bossa Studios.

Even more notably, Sony recently confirmed that the mastermind behind the project, Fumito Ueda, is no longer an employee at the company, but is still set to finish The Last Guardian under contract.

Sony has repeatedly told Gamasutra that the game is still in production and will eventually ship, though the company is not ready to establish a release window for the title.

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Greg Wilcox
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Between this total f*@k up and Best Buy basically letting a few too many deluded customers know there's NO Santa Claus (just mommy and daddy with their credit cards), I'm hoping this all digital age we're screaming into gets the brakes slammed on it slightly so shit like this can be worked out. That said, if the game IS canned at some point, expect Sony to suffer some fallout from irate fans worldwide. Not as many as if Activision killed off a Call of Duty game, mind you, but a kick in the groin hurts no matter how you shake it (afterward).

I'm betting we'll see Sony Santa Monica or maybe other internal teams pitch in to get the game done if need be. This should be interesting...

Justin Meiners
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I guarantee Santa Monica won't touch it..

Roberto Dillon
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If Santa Claus can't help, let's hope Santa Monica does!

Terry Matthes
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"I guarantee Santa Monica won't touch it.. "

Why not?

Christopher Enderle
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They have their own studio culture.

Joe McGinn
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What an unbelievably bad screw-up. At the very least this is going to cost TLG sales, which is not good for anyone.

Neeraj Kumar
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lol that would have caused Apocalypse :P

John McMahon
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Could Gamestop get sued for negatively affecting Sony's sales by spreading false information?

Duong Nguyen
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Maybe, but it would create a toxic relationship between Sony and one of its largest distribution chains.. TLG wouldn't have made enough either way to warrant such a suit, given its nearly 7 year development costs.

John Tessin
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Digital distribution.

The hand writing is already on the wall for Game Stop.

Mike Griffin
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Probably "just" another delay tacked on to Last Guardian.

Wouldn't surprise me if Sony introduced a mandate for 1st party studios to include some form of Vita cross-functionality for all 2012 titles, in order to ride that feature ahead of Wii U's initial public thrust. Even in cases where it might not make sense or be necessary. Just to say, "See? We're like them. Sort of."

Michael Gribbin
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If the game fails, this event will be blamed as the reason.

If the game succeeds, they'll say that this gave it unexpected press which helped move it back into the public's consciousness after a long development period.

Hoping for option 2, but option 1 is really convenient for anyone stressed out on the creation team...

"Wasn't our fault... Gamestop did it!"

William Dettrey
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Man times have changed. Since when do people take GameStop's info as fact? I've run into more in-house idiots that have no clue what they are talking about and I just completely ignore them. It's not like they have inside information and are "working" hand in hand with studios and developers. They see when UPCs are "released" and the window for the product that goes with it. Gamestop is supposed to have a rule that you can't take pre-orders until there is a UPC. Has there really been an official one or did they just create one (placeholder) to collect pre-order money and then just screw the pooch in the end by acting in haste?

Video Game Company: "We have breaking news about our new product. Quick call Gamestop, they must be the first to know." <-- [/sarcasm]

Ardney Carter
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I seriously doubt this will have ANY impact whatsoever on the Last Guardian's sales. Though they were critically acclaimed, ICO and SotC weren't ever what you'd call "mainstream". Given that, are we really to believe that people who were hardcore enough to bother pre-ordering TLG are going to react to news that the game has been cancelled by NOT immediately jumping online to confirm and/or find out why?

Or, assuming that for whatever inexplicable reason they take GamStop's word at face value, when they subsequently see the game released months down the road they will somehow REFUSE to buy it because they didn't pre-order? Does anyone actually think this scenario is even remotely likely?

This incident will have a negligible, if any, impact on TLG's total sales.

Jeremy Reaban
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Sony's whole Japanese software division is a disaster. Gran Turismo and this are in production hell. And that's about the only thing they've produced of note, other than a few throwaway games.

joe Astor
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Gamestop saying this is what happens when a game has no firm date sounds very fishy to me. Ive pre-ordered tons of games with no date and all GS did was make one up. Normally it was the first of the year and if that date came with no real date yet they would bump it to the next year. When I worked there many years ago we took pre-orders for games with no date and games we didnt expect to know a date for and again, the system would just put the placeholder of 1/1/XXXX. Not once did a game that didnt have a date cancel the order. The only time the orders were killed is if they were notified that the game wasnt ever coming out. Hell we took orders on games that were just rumored to be coming out!

If this was just a mistake on their part why cant they just put the order back in place? This just doesnt make sense. Considering all the news thats been swirling around this game the last few weeks it just seems even more odd.

All that being said, in response to a post above, nobody can be sued for this. GS is a retail store who does pre-orders as a service to customers. It really has nothing to do with publishers.

Greg Wilcox
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My problem with this is why is GS even taking pre-orders for the game (as it's had no 100% confirmed ship date from what I recall) in the first place? That and hell, who pre-orders a game like this THAT far in advance? Despite all the love for Team Ico and their other games, TLG is still going to be a solid (and popular amongst those who know what it's about) niche game that won't move in numbers certain other AAA titles will.

As for the heads-up about the game in general, I know there's a big GS manager's meeting at least once a year where they fly people to Florida or wherever and show them the hot games coming out, give out freebies and party 'til the sun falls out of the sky. Perhaps these folks know something we don't after all and have adjusted accordingly?

Of course, that would mean the Sony denials are untrue... unless they're scrambling to find folks who can complete what was started...

Meh, I hate speculation anyway, so don't take these ramblings at all seriously.

Adam Bishop
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This is what I don't get. The game has no release date, and we don't even know how the game plays yet, so why would anyone think that current pre-orders are going to make up a significant portion of the overall revenue? Are pre-orders for games we know nothing about that have no release date really that big a slice of game industry revenue?

Leo Gura
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Who the hell preorders games at all?! It's a gimmick to earn interest off your money. There is no shortage of games.

Daniel Martinez
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Way to mail it in with automation...

Vanessa Reynolds
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This just gives me another reason to dislike GameStop. I received the call about the cancellation and was pretty aggravated by it after hearing they were misinformed. Way to go, GS. I seriously doubt this will affect the game's sales. I kind of figured that the reasoning for the "cancellation" was really just a removal of the game from their systems due to not having a specific release date.