Lanning: EA "sabotaged" Stranger's Wrath

Oddworld creator laments marketing budget.

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.

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