Ex-Splatterhouse dev fires back at Namco Bandai

BottleRocket disputes publisher's claim of "performance issues" on hyperviolent beat-'em-up; says it had hit all contractually defined milestones.

Last week, Namco Bandai explained why it abruptly rescinded its development agreement with California-based BottleRocket Entertainment for the forthcoming hyperviolent beat-'em-up Splatterhouse. According to Namco Bandai of America COO Makoto Iwai, the move stemmed from unspecified "performance issues," and "the only reason why publishers pull the project out from the developer is when the developer isn't really meeting the requirements."

Those sentiments, of course, represent only one side of the story. This week, BottleRocket responded to Iwai's characterization of the move, taking strong objection to the Namco Bandai exec's claim that the studio wasn't living up to its end of the bargain.

"We too have to be careful of what we say, since publishers have to worry about their 'image' and will sue small, independent studios who bark back at them too loudly," BottleRocket said in a statement provided to GameSpot. "Game development contracts are put in place to protect the publisher and their interests. Within these contracts are a series of defined game development objectives and goals called milestones. If a developer is underperforming, they tend to fail these milestones and have varying degrees of accountability placed upon them."

"Splatterhouse had been in development for over 18 months, and up to having the title taken away from us, we had not missed any contractually defined milestones," BottleRocket continued. "So either there were no performance issues during that timeframe or Namco's management of the title was inept."

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81 comments
norabbitnofun
norabbitnofun

I personnally have no love for this kind of game. And I guess Namco Bandai had to look into how well it was doing "all the more" since they have their financial officers holding their throats. It will probably never be clear what root cause is behind all of this, even for NB and BR. I will not shed tear on the game, but the game development studio should not have its image suffer from this event.

S31Ender
S31Ender

Just because certain milestones defined by contract have been met doesn't automatically call a game a good game. Is it possible that Namco pulled out of the deal because even though the game met it's goals it was still bad? Beats me. I guess we'll find out. It's always possible that Namco just wants an out as well. Unfortunately the first we'll know of it is when we hear this game either going forward or getting canned for real.

Erebus
Erebus

Even if performance was an issue -- Bandai (pot) meet Bottlerocket (kettle).

V-Nine
V-Nine

..reminds me of the spats between Sega of America and Sega of Japan not to mention the times Travellers Tales got the keys to a top IP or 2 just to run it into the ground only to be given said keys over and over again. Maybe they just want the game to run on the "Tekken" game engine and be epic?...never heard of an epic beat em up but having to wipe blood off the screen would be a nice touch or adding a nail in said 2x4..need more info to go on for certain......

MuscleCarMan
MuscleCarMan

"im a lawyer and its pretty plain that namco is looking for a exquse to pull out and if thats the case then i like to be BottleRocket lawyer beause this going to end up with BottleRocket sueing namco." Lets revise this so its what he really meant to say, "im a lawyer? and its pretty plain (potatoes) that namco is looking for a exquse (some type of duck?) to pull out and if thats the case then i like to be BottleRocket lawyer!! beause this going to end up with BottleRocket sueing namco."

hungoverwookiee
hungoverwookiee

i LOVED this game on TG16!!! they better find a way to release this no matter what

WickedForce74
WickedForce74

Just let me know when they decide to release the game. Thats all I care about.

kiriyamaBRX
kiriyamaBRX

When you're done making yourself feel better zomg, could we go back to the topic at hand? Have there been any similar "milestone"-related contract rescindments recently?

Maelstrom52
Maelstrom52

I don't know if I buy this "BottleRocket is a lazy developer" line of logic. They sure weren't lazy with Mark of Kri, which was a great early game for the PS2. And yes, I understand that meeting the milestone requirements does not necessarily translate into a great game. But that's not the issue here. The point is that Namco had ample opportunity within the span of an 18 month production cycle to pull the plug on the project, if they felt it really wasn't commercially viable. There are plenty of games, that don't ever get to see the light of day due to performance issues, but you hardly ever hear about any of those games. Why? Because publishers aren't stupid. They know when something isn't shaping up the way it should very early on, and they will pull the plug long before 17 or 18 months of production. Based on what I've heard so far (from news sources), this thing has personal written all over it. It sounds like there was an internal feud between Namco and BottleRocket. This happens alot, actually, so it's not surprising. It doesn't mean that Namco is a bad publisher or that BottleRocket is a bad developer, but I would blame Namco pulling out at the last minute. That's just poor form.

zomglolcats
zomglolcats

"im a lawyer and its pretty plain that namco is looking for a exquse to pull out and if thats the case then i like to be BottleRocket lawyer beause this going to end up with BottleRocket sueing namco." If you really are a lawyer, then remind me to never use your services, seeing as how you can't even spell correctly.

2bitSmOkEy
2bitSmOkEy

uhhhh maybe they pulled it because they figured out that this is just a gimmick that will only appeal to idiots or young ones. sorry it needed to be said.

Royas
Royas

I figure Namco must have had some good, pressing reason for pulling the title. If they didn't (and that sort of information does get around the professional circles) they are going to find it that much harder to cut deals with any developers. Pulling games arbitrarily is a good way to cause devs to refuse to work with you, due to the higher risk. Right now, it's sort of a "he said, she said" situation, with both companies airing just enough of the dirty laundry to the public to make the other look bad. What neither is doing is giving enough information for the public to actually make a good call on what is actually happening. So, right now I personally think both companies are probably doing wrong and are trying to cover that up a bit for public opinion. Otherwise, one or the other would have given out the whole story. Unless there was an NDA preventing them from talking, in which case I'd expect them to claim that.

Hicks_1
Hicks_1

I didn't have too high hopes for this game anyway, beat em ups are dead. No rpg elements, no epic boss fights, this was a game to be laid to rest from the beginning

slingshot_ylo
slingshot_ylo

"Milestones" and "performance issues" are pretty vague blanket terms for any number of things. It's hard to call this one without more specific information like WHAT milestones and WHAT performance issues exactly got Namco's knickers in a twist. They can call development issues anything they want and both sides can point fingers at one another, but in the end, all that matters to me is if a game is worth playing.

Koi-Neon-X
Koi-Neon-X

From what I've seen of the game it wasn't all that interesting. But, having said that I'd still like it to be completed so that those who were interested in it enjoy it and maybe a possible second look for me.

KingOfOldSkool
KingOfOldSkool

Just to put it out there.. I completely called this entire situation when it first came out. Namco somehow all of a sudden being concerned with "quality" is a fricken joke.. basically, like I said before to many others.. Namco wanted a cheap and quick redux of a known IP to recoup some profit that they didnt make from the other sh*t they have been putting out there.. and when some small dev wasn't going as fast as they wanted them to they would pull the plug. Bottlerocket's complaints is indeed a quick way to lose jobs.. but Namco pulling the rug out on smaller companies like this will NOT bode well for their rep in the future because lets face, Namco is not the force it used to be.. they are not big enough to go on power trips and alienate developers when they want to throw a little impatient temper tantrum.

tidyspidey
tidyspidey

Hmm.... sounds ominous. Whilst I suspect Namco were probably being a little over zealous, BottleRocket saying they hadn't missed any contractually defined milestones doesn't necessarily mean there weren't performance issues - it just means that they'd hit the milestones. If Namco decided the game just wasn't being looked after well enough and it indeed did have performance issues, then the contractual milestones could just be one point alone that isn't related at all. I won't even pretend to know that I know enough to suspect either way, but you have to read between the lines sometimes with both accusatory and defensive statements. It would be unusual for a developer to take a title off someone else after so long unless there was either very good reason, or if there was an air of "sour grapes" going on. I reckon we'll never know either way.... I just want to the game to come out anyway - I loved Splatterhouse and still play it regularly now through MAME. Can't wait to see a modern sequel.

KingOfOldSkool
KingOfOldSkool

@DemannameD - While I agree acting like a "whiny b*tch" isnt going to solve anything.. in this particular situation BottleRocket has not gone to even half the lengths I would have gone if this sh*t was pulled on me. I'm sure its easy for you to sit back and tell bottlerocket to basically walk it off since "you" were not the one that had the last year and half of time and effort abruptly taken away from you and then being called out publicly by that same large publisher..

DemannameD
DemannameD

foodme Posted Mar 17, 2009 11:00 pm PT (hide) im a lawyer and its pretty plain that namco is looking for a exquse to pull out and if thats the case then i like to be BottleRocket lawyer beause this going to end up with BottleRocket sueing namco. You made it through law school but failed Engrish... Or maybe you the only Bar you passed was on your way to Tech school.

DemannameD
DemannameD

Hitting mile stones and making something worth playing are not the same thing. But acting like a whinny B**** isn't going to get them another contract.

Blackviperr
Blackviperr

even though the idea's good.. somehow im not convinced that the game is gonna perform that well.. somehow i see this game if released getting a 5.5 or a 4.0 score. well either way this sucks

jadefury27
jadefury27

that's very unfortunate. i really want this game to be great, but to pull a studio off the title more than halfway through reeks of foul play. wasn't ea accused of similar actions a while back?

BtmnHatesRbn
BtmnHatesRbn

I don't know what I'm getting at, but there's something about going the extra mile and just waddling through. I feel this developer was just waddling through the contracted obligations instead of making this game like its the last game of their lives. And Bandai Namco is also waddling through instead of making the game in-house. Mediocre practices results in a mediocre game. In the end, though, regardless if anybody is going the extra mile to give us the greatest horror-action game of all time is a moot point, as Bandai Namco owns the characters and trademarks, and if the company doesn't like the results, and they're the boss, then change it. Don't be defiant. That's a good way to get fired. In any business.

MajinDante
MajinDante

"im a lawyer and its pretty plain that namco is looking for a exquse to pull out and if thats the case then i like to be BottleRocket lawyer beause this going to end up with BottleRocket sueing namco." it's plain to see you suck.

IWillKickU
IWillKickU

"im a lawyer and its pretty plain that namco is looking for a exquse to pull out and if thats the case then i like to be BottleRocket lawyer beause this going to end up with BottleRocket sueing namco." I'm pretty sure that basic english and grammar is part of the pre-law curriculum.

cubanref
cubanref

lol thems fighting words. @Rhubarb9 WHO SAID ANYTHING ABOUT CAPCOM! the entire story was about Namco Bandai and BottleRocket

SaitouZero
SaitouZero

I don't blame Namco for pulling out, the screens I've seen of Spatterhouse look horrible; PS2 style graphics. I don't know why the big Japanese publishers are looking for small crappy US companies to develop their games. Maybe it saves them money, but you get what you pay for; just look at Silent Hill: Homecoming.

Ghost_702
Ghost_702

I like when the devs don't take crap from anyone. Even the people that fund their projects.

Rhubarb9
Rhubarb9

good that they stand up against capcom instead of remaining silent and making it worse for themselves

frazzle00
frazzle00

You would hope a lawyer would know how to spell excuse :P.

Grimcicle
Grimcicle

"im a lawyer and its pretty plain that namco is looking for a exquse to pull out and if thats the case then i like to be BottleRocket lawyer beause this going to end up with BottleRocket sueing namco." Your mother buying you a Fisher Price "My First Courtroom" playset does NOT make you a lawyer.

ender003
ender003

" foodme Posted Mar 17, 2009 11:00 pm MT im a lawyer and its pretty plain that namco is looking for a exquse to pull out and if thats the case then i like to be BottleRocket lawyer beause this going to end up with BottleRocket sueing namco." . . . Like hell you are.

HiroArka
HiroArka

I just want some form of New Splatterhouse game to be released.

halo_wars86
halo_wars86

BottleRocket or namco one of them is lying. giving namcos history in gaming and professionalism i believe namcos claims.(i might be wrong)

Cerune
Cerune

I'm sorry to hear that BottleRocket has been pulled from the project, but as Namco stated, these things rarely happen unless there are performance issues. Keeping the game in production longer costs them even more money, which is something that most companies will try to avoid if possible. The old excuse that "we had not missed any contractually defined milestones" completely ignores the fact that Namco hired BottleRocket to make a game. If BottleRocket fails to perform up to Namco's standards then they can be fired. BR developers should also add that "and neither has Namco failed to pay us for any milestones delivered." Furthermore, "game development contracts are put in place to protect the publisher and their interests" - wrong. They protect both parties and set the rules for which the employer (publisher) and employee (developer) will conduct their business relationship. Those contracts guarantee that so long as the developer delivers a given milestone within the allotted timeframe, they will be paid. Again, I sympathize with BR for losing the project and it's quite easy to be bitter, but stop trying to play the pity card with statements that just aren't true.

foodme
foodme

im a lawyer and its pretty plain that namco is looking for a exquse to pull out and if thats the case then i like to be BottleRocket lawyer beause this going to end up with BottleRocket sueing namco.

1valiantknight
1valiantknight

it's amazing how people can tell if a game is good or not just from screen shots. when some one eludes to that i stop reading right then and there.

nappan
nappan

This is a pissing match between Namco and BR, and I could care less. More importantly: take a look at the screenshots: this is a TERRIBLE game. I'm a gamer, not a contract lawyer, so I don't care why Namco canned the game, or the fact that BR is restrained from dishing on Namco. Who cares?! It's silly news about a game that looks like Daikatana had the children of Manhunt. YECH.

Normaral85
Normaral85

The still shots of the game look pretty freaking good. so it's probably has to do with the mechanics of the game and what not. The whole gameplay aspect probably wasn't coming together is my theory. Having to compete with how indepth games are now a days probably was another area they were lacking in, with games like Fallout3 that has such a huge environment to measure up to.

Alex_09
Alex_09

@dynomitemasta I disagree kind of. WoW has the highest sales of any game probably, and has pretty bad graphics, especially now. Still, it will continue to sell, proving that if a game has good gameplay(although I think WoW is garbage) or brings something new to the table, graphics are meaningless.

INMATEofARKHAM
INMATEofARKHAM

Avoiding this game like the plague... I suggest you all do the same as it doesn't matter if Namco Bandai or BottleRocket messed up. This game is going to blow because if it wasn't then Namco Bandai wouldn't have pulled it.

yboucher
yboucher

I wouldn't be surprised if the fault was actually on both sides. I know for a fact from the inside that Bandai Namco management IS very inept indeed. But I definitely wouldn't be surprised either if the developer wasn't doing the job right, a la Secret Level with Golden Axe Beast Rider...

dynomitemasta
dynomitemasta

When that much money is on the line it is the publishers perogitive to yank it away fom they dev. We don't know the whole story but I think the last two blockbuster games to come out, Killzone 2 and RE5's stunning visuals might have something to do with it. RE5 is considered a horror, Spatterhouse is considered a horror, so they could of played a bit of RE5 and then took a closer look at the visuals for this game. ALL devs have got to up their game tremendously now in the visual department or get left behind.

shade1978x
shade1978x

What's a Namco Bandai? Is it like a Pokemon or something?

samswet
samswet

Could it be because Namco found the end product's conduct objectionable i.e. Thrill Kill with EA back in '98?

Oni
Oni

Sounds like when two people break up. Maybe that's the reason you know? It started off great. Bottlerocket was on his best behavior, but once he got settled in he started leaving the toilet seat up, didn't wash his dishes, didn't wanna spend anytime with Namco just wanted to watch the game. Told Namco she looked fat! Namco was fed up, rented a U-haul and GTFO. ;)

Maelstrom52
Maelstrom52

It doesn't seem like most of you understand what's happening here, or at least you're blaming the wrong party. Namco pulled this away from BottleRocket at the end of an 18 month (or so) production cycle. So basically, that means that for 17 months they approved of everything that BottleRocket was doing, and then at the last minute decided that they hated it. Publishers are not stupid. If they feel that a game is shaping up to be a trainwreck they will pull the plug on it LONG before any of us ever get wind of the game at all. Most games like that don't make it past the vertical slice phase anyway, so we never see or hear about them. What is happening right now is UNHEARD OF in this industry, which is why this causing such a stir. You simply don't hear of publishers kicking a developer off a project at the 11th hour of production.

johnrkinsey1
johnrkinsey1

If the contractual agreement were fulfilled and Namco backed out, BottleRocket may have grounds to sue because of breach of contract (from my MBA).

mykel77
mykel77

good for bottlerocket, stand up for yourselves. namco could have handled it better.