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Working Designs Shuts Its Doors 43

Posted by Zonk
from the another-one-bites-the-dust dept.
An anonymous reader writes "1UP.com is reporting that publisher Working Designs has officially closed shop, apparently due to difficulties with Sony's approval department." From the article: "If I can't guarantee that the games I personally choose for us to release in the US can actually get approved and come out, there's no business to be done ... I know many of you will have lots of questions, and there will be some I can answer, and some I can't. Sony has made it clear that they do not want the details of their dealings with any publisher made public. Suffice to say that you would buy what we wanted to sell if we could sell it."
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Working Designs Shuts Its Doors

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  • If turds like Army Men games can get approved then its a sad sad day when something WD picks out can't. WD singlehandedly carried the Sega CD and lent a lot of credibility to the Saturn. Most recently Growlanser Generations was incredible and we would have never gotten it without WD. I for one am gonna miss those weirdos a lot.
    • I agree, i purchased a sega cd after watching a friend play Lunar: Silver Star. The WD games made the SegaCD worth it (too me anyway).

      I'm sorry to see them go...
    • It is a sad day indeed. Working Designs really knew how to translate a game. I bought three of my systems (Sega CD, Saturn, Playstation) in part or exclusively because of WD games. The Lunar games in particular were instrumental in fostering my love of RPGs.

      WD also, to my knowledge, was the first to release games with anime cutscenes in the U.S. Today there are all kinds of anime-styled games in the U.S., but back in the day the game publishers downplayed the Japanese influence.

  • This is new? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Threni (635302)
    Haven't Sega, Nintendo etc always had the last word with what gets released, with no guarantees?
    • It's new that some company actually pitched a fit over it. Consoles are not open platforms, obviously if you intend to sell into those closed markets you should be prepared to bend over and grease up. There's very little public support against such businesses (see Microsoft, The Bell's Reunited, Your Local Cable Company, MPAA/RIAA/**AA, etc.). In a better world, we'd all see why his argument is moving, but in a better world he wouldn't be making it.

      I'm not sure what getting run out of business is going to d
    • Sega and Nintendo were arguably justified in their 'quality assurance' policies especially in the NES and Sega Master System days simply because there was too much crap being published by companies. Don't forget, back then a team of one could put out a game every 2 months. It would be a total piece of crap, with no gameplay, insulting graphics and be nothing more than a waste of plastic and silicon, but it was a game that took up shelf space.

      These days however, Sony seems to have this crazy 'if its 2-D, peo

  • Just the other day [slashdot.org], I was lamenting my loss of my entire media library to theft, and specifically pointed out the Lunar Playstation titles. As money came available, I'd buy PC emulations of those titles, an emulation of the original Lunar for the Sega CD, and the next Lunar title, plus consider other titles of theirs.
    • Just curious, how did the theft occur. I lost all my playstation games to theft too, about 3 months ago.
      • First the thief or thieves came in one night and stole two laptops. I think the thief or thieves may have lived in my apartment before. I hadn't lived in the apartment long, and the landlord said they didn't have the key when I signed the lease, which should have been a warning sign right there. I was moving from a group home, and was directed to that landlord by the mental health group "The Nord Center" which have acted criminally to wards me since then, but I degress.
        The thieves came and went as they pl
  • by jclast (888957) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @06:55PM (#14251472) Homepage

    As long as people are putting out games, why does Sony care? Even if they're not all winners and huge sellers, a variety of games is great for a console.

    So Sony doesn't make as much from Working Designs as they do from Take 2. Why does it matter? They made a hell of a lot more from Working Designs when they were still publishing games than they make from WD now.

    Hell, every game released here can just pad the number of games available in a commercial. Buy a PS2! We've got a library of over X games! Less is not more when it comes to game selection. People have varied taste, and if it was approved for Japanese release, why is it an issue for somebody else to do the work and release it in the US?

    • Suffice it to say that you don't know the whole story...

      Obviously console makers have a vested interest in making sure the games available for their platform are of a certain quality level and could reject things on those grounds, but I'm guessing in this particular case it came down to money. Sony probably wanted a certain amount, and WD probably realized that they couldn't sell enough of certain niche titles to make that work. I mean, let's face it, the games they released weren't exactly mainstream. What
    • Sony's execs have a hard-on for 3D games with trendy themes, especially when it comes to US releases. Anything else pretty much has to be released as either a value title that either has a low price or combines multiple games on one disc. This is especially bad for companies that want to do sprite-based games or port obscure Japanese games to the US like Working Designs did.

      The really annoying thing is, Sony doesn't seem to mind at all when it is the one publishing the game (Ico and Shadow of the Colossus),
      • Microsoft is more than happy to help publishers get their obscure Japanese stuff onto the Xbox. Hell, Microsoft even funded a port of Guilty Gear #Reload to the Japanese Xbox just to win over Japanese gamers, and it was then ported to the USA! That beats the hell out of Sony and Nintendo who don't want to see a sprite on a screen larger than a credit card.

        That's because they're struggling for market share. Once, and if they become established you can bet they'll be up to the same tricks as all the other con
      • Aaah Guilty Gear XX #Reload: the game that changed my life forever. Although it was already released for Japanese PS2 when the Xbox port came out, I believe.

        Now I just have to wait longingly for them to release Slash to console, and in the meantime satiate my hunger for it by watching Japanese match vids.
      • "This is especially bad for companies that want to do sprite-based games or port obscure Japanese games to the US like Working Designs did.

        The really annoying thing is, Sony doesn't seem to mind at all when it is the one publishing the game (Ico and Shadow of the Colossus), or if a cult-hit like Katmari Damacy is an exclusive port."


        Uh... last I checked, Ico and Katamari were both 3D. I don't see a double standard.

        "Nintendo who don't want to see a sprite on a screen larger than a credit card."

        Excuse me? [nintendo.com]
    • As long as people are putting out games, why does Sony care? Even if they're not all winners and huge sellers, a variety of games is great for a console.

      I agree, and this is a really stupid decision by Sony. Working Designs has over the year put out some "less popular" but wonderful, high-quality imports. Not having the talent these guys have is just stupid.

      Some of the recent picks have been... questionable. Growlanser Generations was not great, from all reports, and neither have a few of the oth

  • When YTMND was appropriate, this is it [ytmnd.com].
  • by edbarrett (150317)

    "He who is strongest survives, or don't you know the teachings of Carl Sagan?"

    RIP Working Designs, even though you tossed some *weird shit* into your translations...

    Cadash [workingdesigns.com] - Popful Mail [workingdesigns.com] - Lunar [workingdesigns.com] - Dragon Force [workingdesigns.com] - Raystorm [workingdesigns.com]

    • ah, Dragon Force looks nuts! I didn't always like their translations, or the ugly metallic box art but they were one of the good guys. I will miss them. I still play Sillhouette Mirage, also enjoyed Raystorm and Raycrisis and Silpheed sad.
  • by softegg (938655) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @10:47PM (#14252951) Homepage
    I worked for Victor at Working Designs during the Saturn and Playstation one days; I worked on Iron Storm, Dragon Force, Albert Odyssey, Magic Knight Rayearth, Lunar 1 & 2, Vanguard Bandits (Epica Stella) and Silhouette Mirage.

    I left the company in the middle of Lunar 2 for a variety of reasons, but one of the main reasons was that I saw the writing on the wall for the localization industry and realized that I needed to get into original development or my career was sunk.

    The game industry simply cannot support small developers or publishers anymore, especially not on consoles. The costs of production and marketing are too high, and it's too easy for a product to get lost on the shelf. There is way too much graft that has to be paid in the retail channel to get them to give your product decent placement, or even to order your product at all... and then they are slow to pay.

    Furthermore, the Japanese companies have wised up to the value of their more esoteric games, and now either publish those games themselves, or license them out to larger publisher who can put more marketing muscle behind them.

    I'm somewhat surprised that Victor was having trouble getting his titles approved, as he has always had very good relationships with his third-party liason at Sony in the past... perhaps that had changed after I left.

    Victor has had a definite positive impact on the industry. Before Victor, game companies frequently changed all the art (or at least, the cover art) on Japanese games to make it more palletable to US audiences. They whipped out very poor translations ("all your base..."), and often removed dubbing and audio tracks completely. They frequently passed over whole genres which were considered too esoteric for the US market.

    Victor changed all that. He raised the bar for localized products in just about every way, and proved that there was a market for all of those niche titles, games with anime art, RPGs and strategy games.

    I don't think we've seen the last of Victor, although we may never hear from Working Designs again, at least not as a publisher. I suspect Victor will probably end up producing localizations on a contract basis for other publishers... assuming that such work would be satisfying to him. Once you've been in charge, it's hard to go back to taking orders. I can't ever see Victor leaving Redding and accepting a full-time producer position at any company... which is probably the only way he'd get remotely close to the power he had to make the games the way he wanted like at WD.

    It's the end of an era, but really, that era ended a long time ago. I'm surprised that he hung on as long as he did.

    -- Timon Marmex --
    • For the record, everything you said is right, and it was right then.....

      HOWEVER

      There is one big whole in your plan...

      The day retail dies.

      When Online distrib hits through shelve restrictions will be gone. Marketing will fundamentally change, and indie shops will be able to compete as they will no longer have shelving problems and they can concentrate on WoM/niche marcheteering.

      Infact I honestly believe it will bringback the shareware industry which was just about crushed by piracy (SN trading). See XBox Li
      • there's just one problem with that

        When retail dies and online takes off people will still go looking for deals, now how many scam sites are out there? (reffer to an earlier slashdot story about a guy buying a camera) how many of them would just LOVE to setup shop long enough to get a few credit card numbers and bulk out their bank accounts and suddenly vanish over night (lokitorrent).

        when you buy direct from the source you pay more (HL2 boxed 54.99, Steam download 54.99 tho when I got mine it was down
  • Or is it too obscure?
  • I am very sorry to see on of my favorite game developers take a dive and close up shop due to a tiff with sony of all people. There are other consols that would gratly benifit from the aqusition of some of thesee titles. Specificly the Xbox and Revolution. The Xbox is in dire need of an rpg base especially japanese rpgs. From what i've read that is one major reason for the poor launch in japan. Though i dont know if sony has ownership or a percentage of influence(stocks like square) over the company bu
  • Why not just partner with a differnt publisher?

"Say yur prayers, yuh flea-pickin' varmint!" -- Yosemite Sam

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