Oddworld bails out of gaming

Lorne Lanning launches a broadside on EA's marketing as a parting shot to the industry.

Californian developer Oddworld Inhabitants is to move away from the videogames market, according to studio president Lorne Lanning, who says that the firm will now focus on the film and television sectors.

Speaking in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Lanning confirmed that his game development studio, which most recently created the critically acclaimed Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath, has been shut down, with the company being moved into the Bay area and planning to work in other mediums in future.

The firm hopes to move into content creation for television and film, sectors in which the barriers to creating computer animated content have fallen massively over the last few years - in contrast to the games industry, where the bar to entry is rising even higher with the arrival of the next-generation consoles.

However, despite his fiery rhetoric regarding the games industry and its publisher-led funding model - which he accuses of stifling creativity and leading to "sequel-itis" - Lanning doesn't rule out creating games in future, but would work with an external production company rather than developing the titles in-house.

"We believe there's a window that's open for all-CG feature films and TV," he explained. "And if we don't crack it in the next 2-1/2 years, we're not going to be able to. Our plan is to be a content creation company with someone else bearing the load of the actual production. We'll stay focused on multimedia content, really solid concepts that would make great games, great TV, great movies."

The outspoken company president and creative director, who created the Oddworld universe with co-founder and CEO Sherry McKenna in 1994, has always had a tempestuous relationship with the videogames industry - and this interview is no different, with Lanning slamming EA's handling of Stranger's Wrath and the entire industry's creative direction.

"It was very disheartening to us," he said, "that we could have a title with a Metacritic.com user metric of 9.6, a game that was praised as being a fusion of filmmaking and video games in terms of being less 'gamey' and more story- and character-driven... and then to see that the largest publisher in the industry had no interest in marketing it regardless of how innovative it was."

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