EA Claims Oddworld Developer "Mentally Ill"
|NEWS - VIDEOGAME NEWS|
The Consumerist-voted "Worst Company in America" manages to stoop even lower.
Head of Oddworld Inhabitants Lorne Lanning has gone on the record this week to speak out against his treatment by Electronic Arts during their time as business partners. Speaking at this year's Eurogamer convention, during promotion for the HD remake of his studio's seminal title Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee, Lanning has accused EA of failures in supporting his studio's most recent title, Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath back in 2004.
Lanning has previously stated in the past that EA were guilty of rushing the studio to complete the game long before he felt it was satisfactorily finished, and failed to promote the game with sufficient marketing and support during its release. This week, though, Lanning's accusations grew more severe, as he stated that the company attempted a forced buyout of the studio after Stranger's Wrath's completion - and even heavily implying that the monolithic publisher had shady dealings with Russian gangsters during the title's development.
Lanning reportedly refused to be bought out outright, stating, "When you say that to us we go 'fuck you very much', quite frankly. That's not a sustainable model, that's a hostile acquisition... That's why we had to strive to get independent. Rather than get into bed with someone we knew was a horrible bed partner we said 'let's stay virgins for longer'."
However, EA denies these accusations outright, and has gone as far as to question Lanning's mental health. In response to his comments, EA's corporate spokesman Jeff Brown stated, "Nobody here remembers a jet, a Ferrari or an offer to buy his company. We wish Lorne luck on the game and recommend Lithium for the paranoia and Tourette's Syndrome."
Putting aside the inappropriate use of mental health queries as an insult, the matter raises interesting questions on publication deals and EA's status as one of the largest publishers within the entire video games industry. EA has a reputation for hostile buyouts of small but popular studios in the past - Westwood, Firaxis, Bullfrog and, most recently, BioWare have all been a target of EA's monopolisation - before being milked dry and forcibly shut down in just a few short years. It's well-established that EA were making moves to acquire Oddworld Inhabitants after the release of Stranger's Wrath, but there is clearly no love lost between Lanning and his former business partners, and the whole affair calls into question how much of his comments might be embellished to try and lay in a few cheap jabs at a target that can take it and over which he obviously holds no small amount of animosity.
Lorne Lanning reportedly had to fire a large majority of the staff at Oddworld Inhabitants to stay afloat in the business market after the Stranger's Wrath fiasco, and it's clear to see that the company is only now regaining its financial footing. For the last few years all Oddworld properties have been filtered through Leeds-based studio Just Add Water, who have been developing ports and HD re-releases and remakes of all Oddworld titles to date. Lanning has been involved in a supervisory nature with these releases but has yet to take any forthright action personally with the franchise until now. Just Add Water have previously worked on the Oddboxx port collection on PC, and have recently released a HD patch for Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath. Their current project is Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee New N' Tasty!, a HD re-imagining of the game that sparked the spectacularly weird and wacky franchise. JAW also plans to give follow-on title Oddworld: Abe's Exoddus a similar HD treatment, as well as finish up previously-scrapped Oddworld properties such as Hand of Odd, a real-time strategy game, and The Broken Ballad of Fangus Klott, a hyper-violent third-person shooter stated to be a spiritual successor to Stranger's Wrath.
Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee New N' Tasty! is still in pre-alpha development stages and is currently scheduled for release in Q3 2013.
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