Microsoft’s second 180 has brought a casualty to industry, one Phil Fish. After news leaked about Microsoft potentially allowing indie developers to self-publish on the Xbone, Phil Fish and other indie devs were contacted regarding their opinion on said rumor. Phil Fish and Jon Blow, two of the more recognizable names of indie developers declined to comment. The silence sparked an overwhelming amount of anger from the internet personality Marcus “Annoyed Gamer” Beer. The rant that ensued from Marcus over this silence including him calling both indie devs a number of unkind names, leading to Phil telling Marcus that he should kill himself. Phil continued the war of tweets between him and several people and eventually led to Phil rashly canceling the month-old sequel to Fez and leaving video games forever.
To say that Marcus’ rant was unwarranted is a huge understatement. Asking developers for comments on rumors is normally an exercise in futility, but becoming enraged because they decline to comment on said rumors screams mental retardation. The mental handicaps of Marcus Beer aside, this latest incident has once again highlighted the huge resource disadvantage that indie developers face. The same resource deficiency that has rewarded gamers with gems like Fez, Braid, and Super Meat Boy also means that their creators do not have massive PR teams standing ready to help combat even the nastiest internet trolls. The lack of a comprehensive PR department has led to more than a few public outbursts of the heads of these development companies. Two weeks ago saw Tim Schafer make an ass out of himself in a Twitter argument with a Kickstarter backer. While Tim’s bitch fit did not reach Phil’s levels, he did turn many heads when he acted less like the head of a studio and more like a five-year-old boy.
While some indie devs truly need a PR department to protect themselves from saying colossally stupid things, others have functioned just fine without one. Team Meat were able to be brutally honest in interviews after the release of Super Meat Boy. Because they did not have a group of stiffs telling them what to say, Team Meat sounded off on Microsoft and their felling that Microsoft lied to them about how their game would be advertised. Team Meat eventually went on to utilize a loophole in Microsoft’s DLC policy that allowed owners of Super Meat Boy to receive free DLC, and even went as far as detailing exactly how they were exploiting said loophole. Gamers have been force fed carefully crafted statements for years, but the brutal honesty from indie developers is a nice change.
Phil Fish has long been known to be a douche bag. Until I viewed Indie Game:The Movie, I had no clue who he was, but within minutes of learning of his existence I also knew he was thin-skinned hipster. His arrogance was palpable in a way that would make even Jonathan Blow take a step back. While Fez is lauded by many to be a masterpiece, I am not sad in the least to know there will not be a sequel. As palpable as Fish’s arrogance is, his disdain for the very community that supports his art is overwhelming. With little money to spend on advertising, indie developers must depend on their fans recommending their titles to friends. It would be hard for me to recommend a game that was made by a guy who declared that “Gamers are the worst fucking people”. Phil felt that gamers needed him and his games, not the other way around. Knowing his feelings towards gamers, I would not be surprised if he had no intention to finish the sequel to Fez in the first place. This recent, childish, temper tantrum gave Fish an excused to cancel the project while placing the blame on gamers. Announcing that he is walking away from the industry is just a ploy to get people to beg him to come back, the same thing a child seeks when he walks away from his parents as they yell for him to return. Cliffy B, the O.G.D.B., has already begged for Fish to return, but Fish will not return until he feels that gamers have learned the lesson he has attempted to teach.
Indie developers have been behind some of the best games released this generation. Every indie game that is released is a testament to the years of struggling the studio behind the game went through. After so much struggling, it is natural for the creators to be combative to criticism of their product. Some people are able to brush the criticism off with ease, understanding that it is impossible to please everybody. These are the people that continue to develop new titles, not to prove to the world that they are a creative genius, but because they truly love making games. Phil Fish is the opposite, and although many people enjoyed Fez, he should not be missed from the industry. After all, how much of a creative genius can he be if his big idea for a follow up was just a sequel to Fez?