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If I were to write and perform a little play, starring only myself and my cats, and were to tell no-one that I was doing it, should I then expect an Olivier Award? Would I have the right, in fact, to be at all disappointed should no-one turn up at all? And would people potentially think ill of me were I to then throw one of my cats out of the house, following the failure of said cat's performance to recoup a sizeable amount of ticket cash for kitty litter and tuna?
No, no, and yes. Those are the answers. Because if I did those things, I would be mental. Hey Activision, listen up.
Singularity is a great game. Not a title that was ever going to change the world, but by God it was fun. It was packed with brilliant ideas, it had endlessly exciting shooting, its set pieces were fantastic, and although it was essentially a grab-bag of the best bits of other games, those best bits came from some of the finest FPS ever made. Half-Life 2, BioShock, F.E.A.R., it was all in there.
But here's the problem. It didn't have a huge brand name to back it up. In fact it didn't have any brand name. It was a new IP. And it didn't have a huge developer behind it either. It had Raven, who despite many, many years in development as a thoroughly likeable and solid team, and a lot of respect from those in the know, have never broken through into the top flight, at least as far as mainstream public perception goes. Basically, Singularity was just me and my cats.
So it needed a push. Not a Call of Duty-style media bombing, you understand. We just needed to be aware of it. See some posters out. See a few TV ads running in the weeks before release. Have the games press know just what a frigging awesomely imaginative and fantastically-paced hoot the game is. Hell, as a games journo I wouldn't have been able to not tell everyone to buy it. I eventually did, but it was all too late by then. Should have been easy to sort, Activision. You're the game's publisher. You own Raven. This is your job.
What did Singularity get? Not a poster, not an ad, and as far as the press went, we didn't have a goddamn clue.
And then it sold like ass. And now reports are stating that between 20 and 40 Raven staff have been laid off. Activision's official line is "With the recent completion of Singularity, Raven Software is realigning its workforce to better reflect the studio's upcoming slate".
Now I'm fully aware that jobs in this industry come and go as the scale of ongoing projects fluctuates. And now that Singularity is done, a few jobbing devs will of course probably move on. But this is the second time this has happened now, with up to 56 jobs having been lost at Raven back in 2009. So potentially that's nearly 100 of Raven's original 180 staff gone over the last year or so. Can you understand why I'm worried, Activision? And can you understand why I think a few posters wouldn't have been too much to ask?
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