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Jon Wood: Resisting Stargate Resistance?

Columns By Jon Wood on December 10, 2009

Resisting Stargate Resistance?

Yesterday we posted a story directly out of Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment, the developers of the often troubled Stargate Worlds, that their MMO project had been sidelined in favor of another game.

This new game, being called Stargate Resistance, is a third person shooter online action game that uses many of the assets of the MMO to create an experience that "pits teams of Stargate Command personnel against the System Lords and their minions in exhilarating real-time online battles."

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It's an interesting and not at all unforeseeable outcome for a studio that has, in the past, been unable to pay its employees and has since been plagued by rumors, both credible and not, about staff attrition, working conditions and most importantly funding problems.

Looking toward launching a game like Stargate Resistance allows the development studio to begin to recuperate some of what we have to assume have been some pretty heavy financial losses not only by producing a game to start bringing revenue in, but by using very expensive currently existing assets to do so.

There really were only three possible outcomes for Stargate out of Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment: The first one was least likely as it would have meant a total loss for everyone involved and that's flat out cancellation. The second was that the game would launch, but not be in anything close to shape to meet market competition and the third was that the project would be sidelined in favor of something that what developers were left on the project could put together relatively easily and quickly (when compared to an MMO) so that the company could bring in some much needed cash.

And that's where we find ourselves today.

I've read some of the early reactions to the news and I have to say that the announcement has been met with slightly greater than average skepticism, with people claiming that a) it's a cash grab and b) it's scheduled for release too soon and is going to suck.

Well, to the first point I think it's safe to say that yes, it's a cash grab, at least in so far as any game company creating a product in order to see a return on investment. Let's face it, the developers and investors haven't kept the company's doors open as a gift to their fan community. They've done it because they would like to continue to get paid to work on a project that many of them have spent years working on. They've done it because some return on investment is better than no return on investment. In order for any of that to be possible, they have to start making some money. It's basic economics, so basic even I understand it.

To the second point, yes, they are releasing rather quickly from their announce date but you have to remember that the company isn't exactly starting from scratch on this one and I'm guessing that they're going to be using as many assets (art, coding, etc.) from the original MMO as possible. So it's not the fact that the game is releasing so soon that surprises me so much as it is the assumption that it's going to suck based on that point.

So let's take a look at the pros and cons of this particular endeavor:

Pros

  • It keeps the doors open at CME and keeps hope alive for MMO fans who were looking forward to a Stargate virtual world.
  • It will still have the distinction of being the first game modeled after the Stargate television franchise which has had international appeal through 16 combined seasons of three different television series and two direct to DVD movies.
  • It has the potential, if done well, to drive more interest toward a similar MMO.
  • It has the potential, if done well, to prove the CME is capable of launching a solid product, which might get more potential backers sniffing around.M

Cons

  • If the game isn't good, that's probably going to spell the end of CME or at the very least, Stargate Worlds. Not that this isn't partially pro. If CME can't get this game right there'd be no reason to assume that Stargate Worlds would be worth a subscription.
  • They might have an uphill battle on their hands with an SG-1 centric game pitting SGC against Goa'uld. After all, we're two series removed from the system lords being the primary antagonist of a series. Players may not be so interested in playing or playing against a villain that was so long ago defeated.

What does it all mean?

Well, you've pretty much got my two cents about this announcement, but I'll leave with this thought:

I've been saying for a while now that strong single player and small scale multiplayer games have the potential to be an MMORPG's best friend. I think that these games can serve as good proving grounds to help make players feel like they want to take the risk of investing in a new MMO when they come out. Honestly, I wish more struggling MMOs would take this route rather than rushing their product to launch.

What will the future hold for Stargate Worlds or Resistance? It really is too soon to say.