A development failure

This is an interesting look at an AAA development project that hit a single when a home run was needed:

To understand why Homefront had such a troubled development,
it’s important to look at how THQ was trying to change the way it
greenlit games, and the context in which it did so. Its new procedure,
which is fairly common in the game industry, was a multi-stage process
designed to keep studios at work on new games without committing THQ to
seeing them through to publication. THQ would take pitches from all its
studios, give feedback, see prototypes and then authorize continued
development. After going through this a few times, THQ would make a
final decision about moving forward on full development, or pulling the
plug on the project.

What was unusual about THQ’s greenlight process is that it occurred
at a time when every THQ studio executive knew that closures were
imminent. With the stakes so high, THQ’s new pitch process turned into a
never-ending up-sell.

“We [Kaos] were in jeopardy of dying right after Frontlines,
and [Schulman] felt that we really needed to sell to THQ,” says one
producer. “So we put forth just about every bit of effort we had into
creating one hell of a package to sell to THQ. So much so that I believe
our package was held as a metric for what other studios should do to
sell their packages. And Dave Schulman was a really good salesman at
telling THQ what we could deliver, and turning back to us to say, ‘Hey,
sky’s the limit. Just pack more features in. Make it great. Put as many
bullet points as you can on the back of the box.'”

I was meeting with some THQ executives about funding one of Chris Taylor’s projects at this time and they had sky-high expectations of Homefront. I mean, the words “CoD-killer” were bandied about; they really believed it was going to be a Battlefield-level event. I remember being dubious at the time, and later, when it was released, barely even noticing that it was out. No one I knew ever played it.