Midway. 'Mostly harmless' would probably be a fair description. They've been languishing in a pit of red-faced financial statements and poor review scores for longer than anyone can remember. And yet, recently we've heard quite a lot of encouraging things about them -- they hired a new CEO, David Zucker, then president of Playboy Enterprises, who should know a thing or two about brand management; they got to work on some more interesting games like The Suffering and Freaky Flyers; and then they enticed former Ion Storm-ers John Romero and Tom Hall to the fold.
And then, in a pretty frank interview with GameSpot, Zucker came out with this: "I'm not sure consumers care as much about who makes a game as video game publishers would like to think." When was the last time you heard a publisher - let alone the CEO of a publisher - come out with something like that? There's more. "Did moviegoers decide to go to The Rundown starring the Rock based on whether Warner Bros. or Paramount or Universal was the studio that made it? The only movie studio brand that perhaps impacts ticket purchases is the Disney brand."
"Consumers care about the quality of a game, not its publisher, and what we plan to do at Midway is capitalize on what we do best to make great games." Now we just have to make sure Zucker's view of the quality of a game is as leftfield as the rest of his comments compared to other CEOs, like those who champion product they've never even seen let alone played. Sadly, it's going to be a while before we can, but he reckons The Suffering, NARC, Area 51 and NBA Ballers will all be very playable - even going as far as to say that "When NBA Ballers debuts, scheduled for early next year, we believe it will be the best-looking and most-fun-to-play basketball game on the market."
Zucker has also confirmed that Midway is planning to create "innovative new versions of franchises like Spy Hunter, Gauntlet, Mortal Kombat, NARC, Area 51, and others going forward." Gauntlet is believed to be Romero's first charge. Zucker also addresses how Romero and fellow developer Tom Hall came to be hired by Midway. "Steve Crane, who runs our San Diego studio and third-party development, felt that they would be able to make a significant contribution to our efforts, and advocated their coming on board," he revealed. As for their roles, "John Romero will have a specific role as a team lead reporting in to Hugh Falk, who runs our internal development in San Diego. Tom Hall will be the San Diego studio creative director reporting to Steve Crane and will be getting involved immediately in external projects like our first-person shooter Area 51 and NARC."
For the full interview, head this way.