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Batman game behind Pandemic closure

Batman game behind Pandemic closure

Apparently the Batman: Dark Knight game was mishandled from the start, by both developer and publisher.

Pandemic's Brisbane studio has confirmed that it has been 'set free' by owner Electronic Arts and that it will continue to operate separately from the mega-publisher. What's more though, the developers have detailed exactly why they were shut down.

Shut down may be a bit of a strong term of course, apparently EA has allowed the team to keep all the resources they currently have - machines, premises, software - but has told them that they will need to find a new publisher in the future.

Apparently the root of the whole problem was the new Batman game that was accidentally revealed by Gary Oldman after the launch of The Dark Knight movie. According to Kotaku, the development and design of the game was plagued with problems from the start.

To break it down into manageable chunks, the issues started when Pandemic made a deal with Warner Bros. to make a new Batman game, which they duly did. It was apparently six months into pre-production however before Electronic Arts got wind of this and said that a Batman game should be a Dark Knight game specifically. Pandemic had apparently gone down a totally different route and six months worth of work was thrown out.

Examining the new direction for the game, Pandemic wanted the game to be an open-world style of game, which they promptly set about creating. Development was plagued by the fact that nobody at Pandemic Brisbane had ever worked or designed an open-world game before - all that talent was at Pandemic LA and was focused elsewhere.

At the same time, EA was also putting pressure on Pandemic to get the game out as quickly as possible. The deal that had apparently been brokered with Warner Bros. expired at the end of 2008 and EA did not want to pay to extend that - so the whole game had to be finished by December 2008.

In order to help save time, Pandemic decided that the best idea was to use an existing engine that they already owned - so, they chose the engine for Pandemic LA's upcoming WWII shooter, Saboteur. Unfortunately, that engine was designed very much for linear games with small, complex levels and didn't mesh well with the free-roaming design Pandemic had ham-handedly developed.

Ultimately, with Pandemic unable to hit the deadline, the entire project was abandoned. Ea didn't look to favourably on the waste of capital that had been involved and the decision was made to 'set the studio free'.

Still, at least there's still the upcoming Batman: Arkham Asylum to look forward too.

Did Pandemic Brisbane get off too lightly, or should EA have ponied up a bit more cash and patience? Let us know your thoughts in the forums.

15 Comments

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Arkanrais 16th January 2009, 10:48 Quote
prime example of why I dislike EA.
I would be mighty pissed, myself, if a decent way into a game, I had a parent company tell me to make something almost completely different. I don't get why they can't just put the old batman game away, start the whole new one that EA wanted, then pick up on the old one after they've finished.
tominated 16th January 2009, 11:00 Quote
god, the mogul's at ea are *******s. I love pandemic, mainly cos i live in the same city and cos the destroy all humans game the childrens hospital had on xbox kept me smiling through chemo (it was awesome)
badders 16th January 2009, 11:07 Quote
Destroy all humans was awesome.

I think a general Batman game may have been better than a Dark Knight game. Games based on movies are ****, 9 times out of 10.

It's a pity, but Parent Company(Greed - Common Sense) = failure generally.
Lepermessiah 16th January 2009, 11:31 Quote
Sorry, but EA was right on this, pandemic wasted a tonne of resources and showed terrible project management. EA ahters are everywhere, I am one, but in this case cannot fault EA. (Sits back and waits for EA haters to flood the thread).
CardJoe 16th January 2009, 11:41 Quote
For once, I'd take Leper's side in this. It seems foolish to buy a license like this, not use it to make a licensed game and then be surprised that when you owner finds out they disagree with you. Then to make a game you have no experience in making, with technology unsuitable for the task? P'sha!
Paradigm Shifter 16th January 2009, 12:00 Quote
Eh, what if the six months of non-Dark Knight game they had was good? If they'd be able to complete that, there would have been a game out there, at least. EA made then toss it, so blame can be firmly laid at EAs feet on that front.

But it seems like once EA laid the law down about it being a Dark Knight game, Pandemic made a raft of poor decisions.
CardJoe 16th January 2009, 12:13 Quote
A company that decides to make a branch into a new genre at short notice, with an impending deadline and no experience, using an unsuitable engine tends not to make all that great decisions in general, I'd say. Pandemic has made some good games in the past, but not for a while IMHO.
Artanix 16th January 2009, 13:37 Quote
Well it depends to be honest. IF pandemic are ment to make EA aware of projects they're working, then yeah, pandemic are in the wrong. You can't work for 6 months on some project that EA are funding equipment, time, etc. for without telling them. But i don't know how the games industry works, but from the fact EA let pandemic keep everything in the office, i'd expect a fair amount of it to be funded by EA.

Otherwise yeah, EA shouldn't come in and change a project thats 6 months done already, theres not really enough info to make a good decision on who was the ass here. Its just so easy to point the finger at EA
Veles 16th January 2009, 16:21 Quote
It was a combination of both sides screwing up, EA shouldn't have made them throw away 6 months work to make a game of the movie that would have missed the movie by a long way (if you're going to make a game of the movie you really want to have it released while it's still in the cinema). As you say, Pandemic shouldn't have tried to do a genre alien to them if they were on a very strict deadline, but the first major screwup with was EA, if EA was gonna make them throw away 6 months of work, the least they could have done was renew the license to allow them to have that 6 months back.
Otto69 16th January 2009, 17:27 Quote
As much as I dislike how EA runs a lot of things, this sounds like there were bad decisions all around. Deciding to go with an entirely new game design, that one has never done, with a hard deadline after throwing out 6 months of effort...that's a recipe for failure. I would hope that this was a case of EA mandating all this stupidity rather than Pandemic saying "oh sure, how tough can it be..." as the latter would show really really poor decision making on the part of the production team.
Veles 16th January 2009, 18:27 Quote
Perhaps Pandemic wrongfully assumed EA would renew the license, I mean, it's not like EA to turn down churning out a game of the movie.
DXR_13KE 17th January 2009, 00:51 Quote
why didn't they make this game like the punisher or like max pain? that would totally rock!!!
identikit 17th January 2009, 13:23 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Veles
Perhaps Pandemic wrongfully assumed EA would renew the license, I mean, it's not like EA to turn down churning out a game of the movie.

No I don't think so. EA wanted the game out at December for two reasons, not having to pay massive sums of money to keep the license and to release it when the Dark Knight was fresh and getting a DVD release. I gotta say though Pandemic screwed up so badly, you cannot fault EA for cutting them loose to stop loosing money. If you are a games dev keep your publisher happy. Don't go working in secret for 6 months!
thehippoz 17th January 2009, 18:17 Quote
ah that sucks.. ea runs a tight business (as in rusty wallet tight)- when they took over the c&c franchise you saw how the patches went from good with player feedback.. to nothing- but on the other hand they supply the money to get the games finished so I guess they can do whatever they want!
metarinka 19th January 2009, 08:11 Quote
If you're interested in video game development this should be a case study for how to produce a disasterous game
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