Monday, 26 November 2007

The Name Game

Jeff Minter, The Man, The Myth, The Yak. A true legend in the annals of games programming. As far as the games industry in the UK goes, Jeff was there before there was an industry. He is unique in that he has remained untouched by the big business atitude to modern software and still writes games tailored to what he feels a game should be, rather than aiming for market share.

So the following livejournal post about the sales of his latest game on XBox Live Arcade came as a bit of a surprise.

not seeing a lot of reason to continue even trying to make games, at this point, when a remake of Frogger, one of the worst games in the history of old arcade games, can outsell Space Giraffe that we put so much love and effort into, by more than ten to one, in one week.

OK, we get the message. All you want on that channel is remakes of old, shite arcade games and crap you vaguely remember playing on your Amiga.

We'll shut up trying to do anything new then.

Sorry for even trying.
" - Jeff Minter, LiveJournal entry, November 2007

I can't say that I'm surprised that Frogger (a straight port of the original game) outsold Space Giraffe. Now before anyone gets on my case about this I'd like to make a couple of things clear.

1 - I like Jeff Minter's games. Always have. Probably always will.

2 - I haven't played Space Giraffe as I don't have an XBox 360, but would really like to, especially if it is anything like as good as Tempest 2000 was. Personally I would much rather play that than Frogger any day of the week.

So why do I think that Frogger would outsell Space Giraffe then?


Hands up everyone who has heard of Frogger? Quite a few hands there. In fact, pretty much everyone. OK, now raise your hands if you have heard of Space Giraffe. Not quite as many hands there, much less in fact.

This is the crux of the problem. Frogger is a recognised name. It is available cheaply on XBox Live Arcade and could easily be an impulse purchase. Space Giraffe on the other hand. . . . .

The name doesn't really say a lot about what the game is. It doesn't immediately make you think "gosh, I'd better buy that as it is obviously a Tempest 2000 style game by the legendary Jeff 'Yak' Minter" does it ? Tempest 4000 would sell like hot cakes, I've no doubt about that. Even Jeff Minter presents Space Giraffe would probably do quite well.

Hopefully as time goes on and people discover how great the game is, Space Giraffe's sales will pick up and it will end up as the success that it deserves to be.

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