Eurogamer


Oddworld creator Lorne Lanning has accused EA of "sabotaging" 2005 action game Stranger's Wrath.


The US game making legend blamed the Xbox exclusive's lack of sales on EA's failure to put enough money behind marketing.


"Stranger was a major achievement," Lanning told Eurogamer at the GameCityNights event in Nottingham.


"I'm thrilled EA did such a crappy job distributing it back in the day. It's a title that hasn't been exposed to the world.


"My personal feeling is Stranger was the best game we ever made.


"It was sabotaged. When you see a big game coming out, just ask what the marketing budget is. If you decide as a publisher not to give it a marketing budget, you decide its fate.


"As soon as we understood there was no marketing budget, we had zero expectations. We had zero incentive to build another game for them, either.


"Our story is not unique. This is common in the development community. Business decisions are made and the developer's faucet is turned off as a result.


"In the case of Stranger, it didn't perform because it wasn't exposed and it wasn't distributed and there wasn't the number of factors that go to what you need to have success on the shelf today as a boxed product."


Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath released to critical acclaim, but failed to find commercial success. Eurogamer's Stranger's Wrath review turned up a 7/10.


Stranger is a bounty hunter who captures outlaws in order to collect bounties. The live ammunition system allows players to fire ammo made from living creatures.


UK developer Just Add Water is remaking the game for launch on PlayStation 3 this summer. An Xbox 360 version is currently the subject of discussion between Lanning, Just Add Water and Microsoft.


Lanning, with Just Add Water, has embarked on an Oddworld revitalisation in recent months, and given the go-ahead to the development of a number of Oddworld-related games.


"Abe on PSN sold hundreds of thousands of units last year," Lanning continued. "No marketing. No advertising. Just people telling their kids to play it, saying, 'I played this when I was a kid. I loved this game. I want you to play it here.'


"There's a whole new generation of people who are picking up on that. I see that's going to happen with Stranger, too. That's just a question of us making sure it's on the right platforms.


"On the digital distribution landscape, when that game is offered at a much lower price on the PlayStation 3, people will really enjoy it. It'll get this second wind of life, where it will be easily accessible and not governed by if Wal-Mart decided to stock it or not.


"Anyone who wants it can log on and get it. If you have a PSN account you'll be able to get it. That's a huge game changer."


EA declined to comment on Lanning's accusations when contacted by Eurogamer.

Eurogamer


Just Add Water is yet to decide which Abe game to remake in high definition.


The choice is between Abe's Oddysee and Abe's Exoddus – both iconic PSOne platforming games.


But an outside bet is that JAW will create an entirely new Abe game.


Oddworld creator Lorne Lanning announced in January that Abe's Oddysee was set for a HD remake with JAW at the helm.


But a decision is yet to be made, JAW boss Stewart Gilray told Eurogamer at the GameCityNights event in Nottingham.


"We want to do something, at least Oddysee or Exoddus-based because we have the design for those games," he said. "We have all the original 3D models for those games. We've got all the models behind what was pre-rendered. All the animations. All the environment models.


"What we're coming up with, people are going to like. But we're still in pre-production. We haven't decided if we're going to go with a full Oddysee remake or if we'll take parts of Oddysee, parts of Exoddus and parts of new stuff. We'll see."


All that is decided at this stage is that JAW will create an Abe HD game, it will be 2.5D, and it will launch for PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.


A decision will be made in the summer, with production due to begin in August.


"If we do a brand new game it's going to be two years away. If we do a remake it's going to be a year away," Gilray revealed. If it is a remake JAW hopes it'll launch by next Christmas.


"If we do a remake we could use it as a test bed. It's all well and good the fans saying, we want another Abe game. But, will only the fans buy it, or will we introduce new fans to it? The reason for doing Oddysee is that we can appeal to kids who weren't playing games 13, 14 years ago when it first came out and introduce Oddworld to a new audience that way.


"The businessmen say that's the sensible way to go. The creative says, no! Let's do new!"


1997 platformer Abe's Oddysee introduced playable character Abe, a Mudokon slave working at the RuptureFarms meat processing factory on Oddworld. Abe's Exoddus followed in 1998, again on the PSOne. Both games enjoyed such critical and commercial success that Abe became something of a PlayStation mascot.

Eurogamer


Oddworld developer Just Add Water will premier a new game at this month's GameCityNights event in Nottingham.


CEO Stewart Gilray will unveil Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath HD and premiere a game Eurogamer has been told is the revival of a shelved title from the nineties.


Gilray will then lead a talk by Oddworld creator Lorne Lanning, who will discuss the much-loved series.


Stranger's Wrath was an Xbox first-person shooter Eurogamer awarded 7/10 in 2005.


JAW's HD remake adds 720p visuals, more character detail, normal mapping, self-shadowing, re-mastered dialogue, Move support and other undisclosed bonus material.


It is the first Oddworld game for PlayStation hardware in over a decade - Munch's Odyssey and Stranger's Wrath were both originally Xbox games.


Lanning, meanwhile, has confirmed plans to create an HD remake of classic platformer Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee.


"It's basically Abe's Oddysee being redone in a 3D physics engine as a 2D side-scrolling platformer," Lanning explained earlier this year.


The event takes place at Antenna, Beck Street, NG1 1EQ, from 6-11pm.

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