It would be churlish in the extreme to throw an "I told you so" at the publisher of one of the most beautiful, experimental and accomplished games of this year, so I won't. But it seems that Ubisoft has indeed learned from the mistakes it made with the Xbox 360 release of Tetsuya Mizuguchi's sublime Rez follow-up Child of Eden. Bombing like a Lancaster, the stunning synesthetic shooter sold only 34, 000 copies in the US in its first month. That's like the whole concept of ice cream being cancelled due to lack of interest. It's just so utterly wrong that it defies logic. But then again, so did the way the game was sold, as far as many of us are concerned.
A six-level, abstract shooter whose undoubtedly immense joys were understandable only through intensive personal experience? Going for £39.99 as a full disc retail release? Madness. And that showed in Child of Eden's commercial success. With the PS3 release though, things could be quite different. Ladies and gentlemen, cross everything.
For starters, the PS3 Child of Eden is coming in at a far more sensible £19.99. Still on disc, mind, but some online retailers are already discounting it by another fiver. Suddenly we're into "bargainous" territory. Couple in Move support - yes, that's glorious, responsive, flowing motion control with the additional precision of actual buttons this time around - and we could well have the definitive version here.
Why did Child of Eden get such a counter-intuitive launch the first time round? We can only guess. Mine would be that either Ubisoft had misplaced confidence in how big a deal Miziguchi's name and Rez's legacy would be in terms of marketing the game, or that Microsoft needed a core game to associate with Kinect and so pushed for a misguided triple-A-style release. MS was certainly heavily conspicuous in Child of Eden's mistakenly Kinect-centric marketing, a move that doubtless led many prospective hardcore buyers to believe inaccurately that CoE was a Kinect-only game.
Above: I LOVE YOU, GIANT SPACE PHOENIX!
Either way though, it seems lessons have been learned. And I hope the outcome of them is successful. Because Child of Eden really is going to go down as an all-time classic. I just hope that enough people get to play it soon enough for that reputation to be cemented ASAP.
Oh, and Ubisoft, two other words for you. Digital download. Give it a month or two on Blu-ray, then bash both versions online out for about a tenner each. You know that's where this game needs to be.
July 19, 2011