News, Good and Bad

Some good news and some bad news today, let’s start with the bad news first.

Up for Sale

Interesting news day for Cryptic, Champions, and STO today. Apparently Atari has decided to get out of the development business and is putting Cryptic Studios up for sale. I have to admit I’m surprised, but I really shouldn’t have been. There’s been a lot of movement towards social and mobile games, so it’s not too surprising that Atari’s headed that direction.

Naturally Twitter, game blogs, and STO’s forums have been buzzing with the news. I was pleasantly surprised by the mostly positive reaction on the STO forums. There were two dev responses I wanted to highlight:

Wishstone – The headline is chosen a little unfortunate by the colleagues at Gamasutra and makes it sound like we’re a kicked puppy standing in the rain. That’s not the case. 

Right now I have no further details other than what has been mentioned elsewhere. Support for Champions Online and Star Trek Online will be continuing as normal, our staff is working hard on their projects (and the folks from the Champions team deserve an extra cheer for their new stuff by the way) and there are no planned changes to the way any of our games and projects will operate.

So Stormy is here, I am here, Dan and the gang are here, your GMs and QA staff are working hard. It sounds way more dramatic than it actually is.

Dstahl -btw… several of STO’s new devs are starting in June – so that is one reason they haven’t responded yet.

Now of course the dev team is always going to put a brave face on things, so we’ll have to wait and see how the situation pans out. Personally, I’m not sad to see Cryptic and Atari part ways but I’m even less happy about the thought of EA or Activision acquiring the studio. There’s been some chatter on the forums about CBS, and I guess if Warner can get into the publishing business then so can they. There are lots of open questions about the situation though. Cryptic owns the Champions IP and CBS owns Trek, but I’m not clear on what Atari acquired when they bought Cryptic or who CBS actually granted their IP license to. Plus there’s the who question of Atari Points vs. Cryptic Points for the C-store currency. Interesting times indeed.

Regardless, I hope that Cryptic’s future gets resolved quickly and leaves the company in a stronger position to continue improving their games.

UpdateSente over at A ding world has some good background on the fiscal aspects of the situation.

Ground Combat

Aside from all of the corporate drama, there’s a new thread related to ground combat prompted by comments made by Al Rivera (Captain Geko on the forums) in the latest Stoked podcast (it’s an excellent interview by the way, you should watch it). Salami_Inferno jumped in on the thread and offered to answer any questions (have I mentioned recently how much I love the STO team’s communication?) and yielded some interesting tidbits:

  • The optional aim mode will probably be something you want to turn off if healing, otherwise you’ll have to aim first to determine who gets affected by your Medical Tricorder. post link
  • Pressing ‘Z’ will swap weapons and ‘X’ will switch aiming mode (from shooter to RPG and back). post link
  • All weapons have a zoom, no head shots (maybe later, just didn’t work with their current code). There’s no cover system like Gears or Mass Effect 2, but they’ve made line of sight more significant. post link

 

10 Comments

  1. YeeboNo Gravatar says:

    From all I have read Cryptic is very close to going from a speculative investment to profitable studio. Going from a 15 million loss to 5 million loss over the past 2 years (I am too lazy to look up the actual numbers) may not sound that great, but it does indicate their income is ramping up rapidly. I’d guess it’s largely to do with CO going FtP, which boggles me a bit because I think their FtP model isn’t very good. The restrictions that are impossible to buy your way out of are too much to me personally, it’s still a “sub or don’t play” game as far as I’m concerned.

    • BrianNo Gravatar says:

      I’m not sure how much of that improvement is CO’s Free For All switch or increases in STO’s sub numbers. I know that the Feature Episodes did quite a bit for STO’s subscription numbers but that may all have been a bit too recent to show up in the financials.

      • LukNo Gravatar says:

        I think CO going F2P was actually a good thing for the game, because it allowed for those on the fence to try the game with minimal risk and even convinced some to spend some money on it. I was one of those on the fence and i did end up spending some cash on the game just to show some appreciation for playing it. Do not get me wrong, CO still needs a lot of work and now that Cryptic is up for sale the future of the company and its games is up in the air. Even if they are saying that it is business as usual, things can change any moment for the better or worse, and from my experience it is usually worse.

        • BrianNo Gravatar says:

          I agree with you that these situations usually end badly, but the Trek license and ties to CBS that Cryptic has put a little different spin on the situation. We’ll have to wait and see, I guess.

  2. My thoughts exactly. I wrote my post before hopping over to read yours, and it seems we both agree Atari and Cryptic parting ways isn’t really so bad. I don’t know who I would want to buy Cryptic, but definitely a company with an interest in the development and future of MMOs.

    • BrianNo Gravatar says:

      Sometimes it’s like we share a brain, it’s spooky. 🙂

      Yeah, none of the candidates I can think of: EA, Activision, and NCSoft, seem like a better situation to me. NCSoft is doubtful given that they used to have a relationship with Cryptic that went sour. Neither EA no Activision have a history of their studios well, unless their top-tier like Bioware or Blizzard, and I think that Cryptic would get absorbed into those corporations pretty quickly.

      • SenteNo Gravatar says:

        A crazy thought here – let SOE drop their MMO branch and that branch will join forces with Cryptic.

        SOE has not exactly been in the most positive light recently and a number of their decisions for their MMOs may not have been the wisest. But they do seem to have some passionate developers and passionate players and in the right environment they can thrive (e.g. ex-SOE developers at Trion), perhaps without some big corp shackles.

        Question though then, who will help fund them?

        • BrianNo Gravatar says:

          Besides the recent hacking news, I really don’t follow SOE much so I can’t say. My memories of EQ, EQ2, and SWG aren’t great though as far as the level of interaction SOE had with their community, and I hope that’s changed for the better in recent years. I’d hate to see Cryptic merge with another studio though and shrink at all.

          You know I hadn’t thought about Trion. They’re not quite a publisher, but they did self-publish Rift in the US and they have two other games in development one of which they’re working with SyFy on, so they do have experience dealing with entertainment companies like CBS. I don’t think it’s likely, but it is interesting.

  3. AnjinNo Gravatar says:

    This is news that I’m having trouble getting my head around (hence, the late reply and lack of post on my site). We can certainly speculate, but I feel like there is still too little information out there to know whether to panic or jump for joy. It’ll probably be somewhere in the middle, but there will be unsettling day in the meantime.

    • BrianNo Gravatar says:

      If there’s one thing I’ve learned from CNN/Fox/MSNBC it’s that it’s never too soon to speculate. 🙂

      I do agree with you, there’s very little information out beyond the fact that the studio is up for sale, and there’s a whole range of possible outcomes possible. I do think that any resolution is months and months in the future, given the speed that most large businesses make decisions at, which really sucks for the Cryptic employees.