Buzz PS3: What went wrong
Relentless tells its side of the story.
For Relentless Software, the book has all but closed on Buzz! - a quiz series voiced by Jason Donovan and recognised by its bespoke four-button controllers. What Sony poured champagne over during the glory days of PS2 simply failed to bubble on PS3.
Relentless now pursues other avenues. "The old business," co-founder Andrew Eades told Eurogamer, "we've pretty much closed that off now - the chapter has ended."
But why? What happened? Buzz! and SingStar were supposed to prove that Sony and PS3 could entice an audience Microsoft and Xbox 360 could not.
"I don't think anyone can be happy with [Buzz! PS3] compared to PS2," shrugged Eades. "We [Relentless] weren't enthralled by it's performance and we felt that the market got a bit too much Buzz! too soon on PS3.
"If you don't have 100 million consoles [as PS2 did when Buzz! first arrived], you don't have a broad-enough demographic to want our kind of game. Of course the idea was to bring the broad games straight to PlayStation 3 in the launch window, to try and attract that demographic.
"But to be honest, £425 for a console is not going to give you a big audience. And we struggled with price for a long time."
"My point is," he added - "and I'm not asking people, I'm not sad that people won't do it" - "when we brought out Buzz on PS2 there was a PS2 Buzz bundle, like you get a Gran Turismo bundle. You could buy the console branded Buzz!. And we're never going to get that with PS3 for a number of years because it's just not appealing at that price."
So was the demise of Buzz! Sony's fault?
"I'm not going to say that," laughed Eades. "I'm not going to accuse Sony of anything. Things we wanted to happen didn't happen, and that's not Sony's fault, that's not Relentless' fault. A lot of it is down to market conditions.
"The market changed. We haven't changed; we've always made the kind of games that we're going to continue making - that's for sure. The people we make games for don't own PS3s that much.
"A PlayStation 3 game is an expensive thing to make," he went on, "and I don't think it makes much sense to spend that much money to make a game for such a small demographic. That's not Sony's fault, not our fault - that's the way the market is."
Nevertheless, Relentless Software broke ground with Buzz! on PS3, claiming "a number of firsts". "It's extraordinary what we did," boasted Eades. "We had the first playable user-generated content before LittleBigPlanet; we had the first Trophies ever on a PlayStation game; and we also had the first Facebook connect in a PlayStation game - on any console in fact.
"We did a number of projects on Buzz, some of which are still to see the light of day. We were very proud of what we did there."
Relentless released 12 presumably Sony-commissioned Buzz! games for PS3 - including the Junior titles. That's hardly destitution. "We did well on PS2," admitted Eades. "We also did well on PS3, frankly."
But 2010, Eades told us, "was tougher than we thought it was going to be" - a sentiment personified by a shock of redundancies at the studio recently. Those, incidentally, were unrelated to Buzz! projects.
But what of Buzz! - is it really dead?
"Sony own Buzz," Eades dodged, "so it's up to them whether they do it or don't do it."
Could Sony make a Buzz! game without Relentless?
"Well they could," mused Eades, "but I challenge anyone to be better than us at a quiz game and certainly a Buzz! game. A fresh pair of eyes might help in some respects, but when you've done Buzz! for five years it's in your bones."
As to whether Sony and Relentless will work together again - either making Buzz! on PS3 or PSP or even Next Generation Portable game - were all questions Eades wouldn't confirm or deny. He was reluctant to even say whether Relentless had toyed around with NGP.
The future for Relentless Software currently lies on iPhone with Quiz Climber, although Eades openly declared his love for Kinect to Eurogamer recently. He believes PS3 and Xbox 360 core audiences are at "saturation point", but feels Kinect can expand numbers (like Buzz! did) beyond that.
Relentless also made family-friendly murder mystery Blue Toad Murder Files - now available on PC as well as on PS3.