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Itagaki Takes On Tecmo
Already a controversial figure in part for his vocal criticisms of other developers' work, Dead or Alive and Ninja Gaiden creator Tomonobu Itagaki claimed he was entitled to a $1.4 million completion bonus from Tecmo regarding Dead or Alive 4.
Itagaki abruptly resigned and filed suit, which might have prompted others to take on Tecmo. Shortly thereafter, 300 other employees raised a class-action suit against the company for unpaid overtime and an illegal "flexible hours" work scheme. Tecmo has yet to resolve things with Itagaki, but in the meantime, has slapped the vocal developer with a gag order.
"Stop Doing Interviews"
A spat erupted at Activision over the Call of Duty franchise, when, promoting Call of Duty: World at War, publisher-side senior producer Noah Heller was apparently too vocal for some tastes on all the shortfalls of CoD4 that CoD5 would address.
Robert Bowling, community manager at CoD4 developer Infinity Ward, posted a rant on his personal blog entreating Heller to "stop doing interviews," to "promote YOUR game" instead of comparing it to others.
He also pleaded with the media to stop interviewing Heller -- whom he now-famously referred to as "Senior Super Douche" -- and speak instead to the development team at CoD5 developer Treyarch directly.
(This controversy was so pungent that Gamasutra staffer Chris Remo recently used his spare time to set it to music, with delectable results.)
Wilson And Romero Revisit The Past
When Doom creator John Romero referred to former Ion Storm colleague Mike Wilson's work with his venture, the now-defunct Gamecock Media Group, as "jackass stunts," Wilson fired back in an open letter to consumer weblog Kotaku, opening an old argument -- who was responsible for those ill-advised Daikatana ads?
"Unlike you, I didn't get to file a federal trademark for my own personal catch phrase, 'Suck it Down,'" dug Wilson, offering many eyes a look inside the long-running dispute.
The public spat featured fairly gruesome mudslinging from both sides, backhanded snark and lots of public airing of unresolved grievances. Ugly.
Salary Cap Collusion in Montreal?
A former Eidos employee reached out to fellow publishers in Montreal to suggest a "collaboration" to "avoid a bid for higher wages which would only benefit the employee."
That employee, Flavie Tremblay, was allegedly let go from Eidos at that time, and it's still unclear the extent to which any Montreal companies colluded on salary caps, if at all.
But Tremblay, who worked at Ubisoft prior to Eidos, was subsequently re-hired by Ubisoft, and the latest information suggests she still works there. Most parties involved are tight-lipped, but is Tremblay's continued employment an endorsement of her efforts?
ESA Sees Mass Exodus
The accompanying discussion suggested big publishers were beginning to question the benefit of the association -- and its E3 event, which has struggled to find its groove amid changes to its formula in recent years.
The publisher departures brought a wave of questions about new president Mike Gallagher's leadership, the function and future of E3, and the cost-benefit equation of ESA memberships that may have prompted the association to announce it would try to return E3 to some of its former glitz and glamor in 2009. Next year will be key for the association to answer some of those lingering questions.
Other Controversies: The PSP 3000's unfixable scan lines, GTA IV's PC release, Activision's Kotick wants franchises with the "potential to be exploited", PEGI vs. BBFC war for UK ratings dominance, Microsoft knew about the Xbox 360's disc-scratching problem, Factor 5 employee reveals studio problems.
Tom Newman: "#1 for me was the Activision announcement. Activision's origin lies with giving creative freedom and credit to the developers, and the announcement that they are not publishing major titles because they can't turn them into annual franchises baffles the mind. Some of the greatest games ever have been non-franchises. Some of the top-sellers are not franchises either."
Stephen Tramer: "What, no Dennis Dyack baiting NeoGAF? I guess that was already covered in 2008 Developers, but that was still the most hilarious kerfluffle of the year. At least as good as Wilson/Romero."
Rebecca Fernandes: "My favorite was media pundits and analysts claiming that gaming was recession proof. Tell that to all the staff laid off over the last two months..."