GamesTM: Goodbye, Odd World? [2005]

Date: May 2005

Source: GamesTM, Issue 32, p. 12

ODDWORLD INHABITANTS TO SHIFT FOCUS WITHIN THE GAMES INDUSTRY

“THIS INDUSTRY IS DISCOURAGING INNOVATION BECAUSE PEOPLE DON’T WANT TO TAKE CHANCES”

Lorne Lanning, president of Oddworld Inhabitants, has decided to reposition his games studio as a multimedia company. However, Lanning has stressed this does not mean he’s turned his back on videogames, as previously suggested.

This decision to shut down internal game development at Oddworld Inhabitants fuelled rumours that the developer would turn its back on gaming. Lanning arguably didn’t help his cause with comments damning the lack of promotion for Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath but he was quick to set the record straight.

“I want to point out that we never said we are quitting the game business,” explained Lanning. “What we said is that we are closing down internal game production at the San Luis Obispo studio. We are looking at new models beyond the current publisher/developer model and we want to focus primarily on IP development for massively multimedia properties.

“We are only leaving behind the model of the independent internal developer,” he continued. “The current model between publishers and developers is broken. Yet the properties that we have created, and will continue to create, are designed to be viable games as well as viable movies and television, and there are a lot of production companies that will need viable content. ‘Content’ is the name of the game in entertainment media.”

Lanning’s frustration with the games industry lies with the fact that games are often entirely financed by one party, which leaves more eccentric ideas at the whim of a sole publisher. Films are multi-party investments with studios paying a percentage towards costs, leaving external parties to pick up the tab, and Lanning believes this approach fosters creativity.

One possible option for the reshuffled company could be an Oddworld CG movie leading to an Oddworld game. “Right now it’s not our intent to go around and pitch publishers, which are the only people paying for videogames, on why a new Oddworld game is going to be great,” Lanning said. “However, if the motion picture is green-lit first — and that’s going to be with worldwide distribution — then it’s easy to come back to the game industry and say, ‘Look, this is the motion picture; this is the date of release; this is the marketing and advertising budget. So if you can get a game done in this amount of time that follows these constraints, then we can have a synergistic release.'”


Oddworld’s Lorne Lanning is taking his ball (well, studio) and going home.


Stranger’s Wrath was a hit with critics but didn’t sell too well.


Popular characters from Oddworld games could appear in CG movies.