Failed Merger

There was quite a reaction to my Out of the Park Baseball 2006 “final” review over in their forums. There’s some pretty level headed debate going on about the pros and cons of the game. I will state for the record that if you were a beta tester for OOTPB 2006 and thought the game was fine to release, then I owe lynchjm24 and other OOTP beta tester bashers an apology. I can understand why Sports Interactive released the game when it did, but any tester that did not see the many flaws in the original release simply was giving bad information to Markus and company. Fortunately, I know a few testers who did see the problems, so not all of them were as clueless as others.

Probably the most interesting discussion centers on the OOTP/SI merger that I called a failure. I am an outcomes kind of person. Version 6.5 is a better online product than OOTPB 2006 as far as stability goes. The common refrain for the SI apologists is that they bring a lot of resources to the OOTP development team. Well, so far those resources have not produced a stable online game for those of us transitioning from previous OOTP versions.

Can SI save the day and make this merger work? Maybe. I think the jury is still out, but there is a lot of work to be done to make the OOTPB franchise a better online baseball game.

SI has the advantage that those of us sticking around really do like complexity in our baseball gaming, something developers like Shaun Sullivan don’t seem to cater to. We want multiple minor league universes, complex contracts, media interaction, and all of those things that make the Football Manager franchise so great.

People like me are willing to put up with OOTPB 2006’s current state and slug it out because of the FM-like glimmers we see. But we are a minority. I cut back my own league from 32 to 24 owners because I know that only the hardcore online gamer is going to stay focused on OOTPB 2006. And it will be difficult finding replacement owners should some fall by the wayside.

My advice to SI?  Make the failure into success with OOTPB 2007 because I won’t stick around for OOTPB 2008 if 2007’s release is like 2006’s. That will be the end of my OOTP relationship.

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One thought on “Failed Merger”

  1. I guess the other issue is the question of how long SI are going to bother to be involved with this game (and EHL too, if I’m honest). I don’t know what the sales figures for OOTP 06 were like in the US, but I’m guessing that it sells next to nothing outside N America, unlike FM which obviously sells enough to warrant a rebranding and marketing under the SEGA umbrella.

    It’s a question of whether they feel that the core of their target consumers are the guys like yourself who value the on-line league and community part of the game, or those who just mess about with it on their own (like me). If they feel that the latter far outweigh the former, that may dictate how they spend the dev time before OOTP 2007, and may not address the multiplayer issues that you raise.

    As for beta-testing, it does seem to be a very variable art. Maybe SI should recruit some of those who have been the more vocal about 06’s issues to see if they can cut down on the bugs for 07.

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