Sunday, 7 October 2012

OnLive Will Not Release Ravaged and is Returning Money to People Who Pre-Ordered the Game

In July OnLive put Ravaged up for pre-order. This was just a month before they went through ABC bankruptcy and started their reorganization. The game was bound to be their next big multiplayer title after Homefront and coincide with the release of the OnLive MultiView feature. It was also the first multiplayer only game and the first Kickstarter funded game to come to the service. OnLive was even exclusively showcasing 2 Dawn Games’ online multiplayer shooter at E3 at the OnLive booth with the new OnLive MultiView feature enabled.

Now in light of their troubles and reorganization, OnLive has decided to not release Ravaged. The game was bound to release on October 17th. People who pre-ordered Ravaged are getting their money returned to their credit card on file. Here's the email message that people who pre-ordered Ravaged got from OnLive regarding this issue:

Hi OnLive Gamer,

Thank you for your recent pre-order of Ravaged and your continued support of the OnLive Game Service. Unfortunately, we will not be releasing Ravaged as originally scheduled on October 17th.

In an effort to get money back in your hands in advance of the PC release date of Ravaged, OnLive Customer Service has refunded the purchase price to your credit card on file. Expect to see these funds arrive in your account over the next 3-5 business days, depending on your bank’s policies.

We regret that Ravaged won’t be available on OnLive but hope you’ll support the developer, 2 Dawn Games, by purchasing the game at one of the retailers listed here.

We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your continued support.

The OnLive Team

Later OnLive senior manager of customer relations Nathan Barsetti wrote at OnLive Fans:

Not much to say on the matter other than all the refunds have been processed at the time of the email. I do want to say that this shouldn't be looked at as a publisher relations issue. We simply looked at what it would take to execute the game the way that it needs to be, and we determined that we didn't have the man power for that sort of undertaking. The multiplayer in Ravaged is unique, and required a bunch of work to get it done. As you know we are down in our numbers, though that is changing. I just hired on two more people, proven rockstars from the OnLive Inc days.

I don't mean to distract from the issue at hand. Demonstrating Ravaged on the service at E3 was a ton of fun, and MultiView complimented it terrifically. Yes it's not a lost cause, but some tough decisions needed to be made by our games team managing resources and goals. I hope that you will see that we handled your finances professionally, and if people don't see money in their account in 5 business days, you should reach out to us.

Responding to a post that if canceling Ravaged means work gets done on multiple other games instead, Nathan Barsetti wrote at OnLive Fans that "it does work like that."

One interesting tidbit is that Brian Harvey, former senior partnerships manager at OnLive, was hired by Reverb Publishing as director of strategic partnerships. Before OnLive got into troubles his role there included acquiring content for the service, negotiating contracts with developers and publishers alike, and serving as an executive producer for AAA SKUs. You ask why is that interesting. Well, Reverb Publishing, that specialises in publishing indie games, is the publisher of Ravaged. Looks like he got pretty friendly with the folks at Reverb Publishing and they hired him right after he lost his job at OnLive.

Some people are saying that it's good that OnLive canceled Ravaged because multiplayer games are not very popular and populated on OnLive, and Ravaged is a multiplayer only game. That way OnLive can concentrate their limited resources in their current troubled state on more single player games as implementing multiplayer was their achilles' heel even before their problems started.

OnLive is already addressing the troublesome porting process for games. At the Eurogamer Expo OnLive UK general manager Bruce Grove said that they are very focused on making it easier for people to put their content on the OnLive cloud gaming service. They want games from indie developers up to the top games from the biggest games publishers delivered by them just by pressing the submit button and not that an army of OnLive engineers is needed to help them port the games over to OnLive. This is a feature that their biggest rival in the cloud gaming arena to date Gaikai has been bragging a lot about.

But some people are saying that Ravaged had the chance to be OnLive's next big game release, a much needed title that would revitalize the OnLive multiplayer community and bring in fresh gamer blood.

Regardless of opinions, according to statements from OnLive UK general manager Bruce Grove at the Eurogamer Expo, it looks like OnLive wants to concentrate on the OnLive PlayPack subscription package part of the business that was to date the most successful business for them, on getting older titles and on single player games. They want to work on various games channels that focus on different genres of games and that way on different demographics of gamers. For a small monthly fee people will get access to a massive bundle of content and they will offer things like a kids channel, an FPS channel, a driving channel and others, similar to TV and movie packages.

Multiplayer games like Ravaged simply need too many resources from OnLive with the current porting process for games and it looks like the game is one of the first casualties of their new business plan. To date OnLive was marketed more as a hardcore gaming service and some hardcore gamers even embraced it as they hoped that in the future OnLive would produce incredible games with out of this world graphics, physics, AI, Mova grade animation, massive multiplayer, etc. Games that one could not even remotely run on his own computer. Those gamers could soon find themselves out of place at OnLive with their new business plan that has much lower ambitions.

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