Activision looks to be readying a new James Bond game. Expect a studio closure within the year

Time for another developer to start worrying then. As well we know, in these post-Goldeneye days the Bond license is a poison chalice on a par with swigging arsenic from a mug sculpted from solid adder bile. Bringing down the reputation of many a fine developer, and bringing about the end of one or two, the Bond franchise is not a franchise you want to be involved in. Every game claims to be a return to N64 form. Every one unfailingly fails to be.

And now, according to details of Activision's Comic Con invitation, another developer might have a crosshair on its head, as a new Bond game may be set for revelation at this month's San Diego event. So let's weigh up the options for who might be unfortunate enough to be working on this thing.

1. Raven Software

Raven has made a whole stack of good games over the years. Soldier of Fortune, Jedi Outcast, Quake 4, my beloved Singularity... They're a decent little studio. Unfortunately, they'e also owned by Activision now, and Activision gave Singularity no support whatsoever, sending of one of the best console FPS of 2010 out to die. And now Raven is strongly rumoured to be working on a third-person stealth/action Bond game.

You know how Activision gave Bizarre Creations' Blur no support whatsoever, sending one of the best console racers of 2010 out to die, and then put Bizarre on the Bond license before outright killing the studio? Yeah, that was crap. I really hope Raven isn't working on a Bond game any more.

2. Eurocom

To be honest, this is probably the most likely option. Eurocom made Activision's not-actually-a-remake-though-we'll-pretend-it-is Goldeneye remake for the Wii last year, and there's a good chance it might be porting said game to the HD consoles. Activision registered several "Goldeneye Reloaded" related URLs recently, so I reckon some manner of re-do is on the way. Expect Activision to ride on the publicity coat-tails of the aborted XBLA port of the N64 Goldeneye with this one, even though the two games are not related in any way.

Eurocom are probably fairly safe, assuming it's just a port. That won't be anything like as costly as a major new project, though the fact that the Wii Goldeneye looks to be getting a port at all would imply that Acti has realised that a Wii-exclusive FPS is financially not a great idea at all. Or knew all along, and has just got out of an exclusivity contract with Nintendo. Either way, there could be a bit of pressure for this to be a success. The Bond license has been flailing pretty hard in terms of sales in recent years, and Activision might well be playing on the Goldeneye name under  the perception that it's a much-needed safe bet.

3. Some random port-monkeys

If however, Goldeneye Reloaded does turn out to be a real port of the real Goldeneye (which is unbelievably unlikely, requiring as it would some licensing contract gymnastics on a par with an Olympic-standard 14-year-old Russian girl. And no-one wants to see Bobby Kotick in a leotard), then expect a jobbing port crew to knock it out. There's no way Microsoft are letting Activision use Rare, and there's no way Microsoft are letting Activision use its part-finished Goldeneye XBLA port from a few years ago.

And being a jobbing port crew, if the game fails, expect the dev team to be taken outside, ritually disembowelled, and then shot in the face. One at a time, each man forced to watch his comrades die, until only one is left. Briefly left.

So what do you reckon? What's most likely and who's most in danger? Place bets now!

July 08, 2011