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Reality Series Part 1: Mergers Suck!

By Rumpy

The Reality series will be a 3 part series focusing on things that affect our lives, either directly or indirectly into our gaming habits, or things that just plain tick us off! In Part one, we deal with mergers and how they suck.

This decade seems to have been the decade of mergers. We can't live now a day without hearing about some company merging with another, creating a bigger company. It's a sad fact, but it's true, and it affects us all whether we know of the company or not. Sometimes you buy products from a company you don't even know of.

Out of game context, take Sylvania the lighting company-a very popular company. You buy lightbulbs because you need them. You probably don't even know this company has a parent. It does, and that company is Siemens; another big and popular company with a wide range of services and products. It's fortunate that both of these companies stand out on their own, but in the game industry, things can seem a lot different.

Electronic Arts over the years has acquired companies like Maxis and Westwood. We often hope when our favourite game companies are taken over by a bigger corporation that their identity will remain intact. But that's not always what happens. We were holding our breath with these two companies when they were bought by EA and now that EA owns them, we have seen many mistakes come from them-especially with Westwood games. Many don't have to argue that fact. Just recently EA announced that they would be merging all their brand identities into one single identity called EA Games. Now I don't know about anybody else, but me, I like to know where my games are coming from. Quite frankly, all this merging into one identity sucks!

Accolade has been the Pioneer in arcade racing sims starting with the Original Test Drive. And with #4, they went downhill and have since merged with Infogrames to become 'Infogrames North America'. Henceforth, they lost their original identity making games as part of the Infogrames lineup instead of their own creations like they used to. Last week, Infogrames announced that Infogrames Entertainment Inc and Infogrames North America would merge into one identity. What does that mean? Accolade gets mashed twice! (Note: If I am wrong about this statement, I will retract it)

With mergers or reorganizations, one of the many things that come with it is a relocation-and relocations are not an easy thing for employees to deal with. People often get thrown around or even worse, get layed off. Take Sierra for example. The original Sierra location is in Oakhurst California. That's where it all started. It was more than 2 years ago when Sierra decided an organization was in order. They had split the company into mini divisions called, Sierra Attractions, Sierra Home, Sierra Sports, Sierra Studios, and Yosemite Entertainment (that being the original Oakhurst location). Yosemite Entertainment was making the Babylon 5 sim and Navy Seals, as well as "The Realm", but the Babylon 5 game was probably the most noteable title in their queue. Sierra had assured them that they could keep working on the Babylon 5 game and stay where they are. Well, surprise surprise! A year later Sierra decides to kill off Yosemite Entertainment and tons of people lose their jobs although some of them were given a choice to relocate. This was called Chainsaw Monday: a very grim day for employees of Sierra and the gaming industry. And amidst those people layed off were long time employees who have helped shape Sierra into what it had become. In addition, it also killed off Babylon 5, which was a game that was most certainly quite anticipated. Fans have shown their outcry and have started a campaign for revival. This affects us all, and quite frankly, it sucks!

The good news is that Codemasters, a company once devoted to only racing titles has bought Yosemite Entertaiment and hired some of the people that had lost their jobs by Sierra and has continued work on Navy Seals and took over The Realm, but there is still no sign of Babylon 5. Hopefully that is a surprise they are keeping under wraps. But at least these employees have a job.

There was a rumour awhile back stating that Infogrames would possibly aquire Eidos. That is French meeting English head on. 'Frenglish' if you prefer the classy lingo. There's something to think about if this were to even happen. First of all, would Eidos keep its identity? Would it be run independantly? What would become of the contrast between the two companies? I doubt the acquisition will ever happen, because as I see it, both companies are in a struggle-not just Eidos. But it's interesting to think about nevertheless.

With all these changes, we don't quite know what we're getting. Sometimes quality is sacrificed even though there is enough money for a merger. With all these changes, the customer gets confused about who the company really is and I don't doubt that employees are also confused about where they are really working. I just wish companies would stand still for once and realize what they are doing when a merger occurs and whether it's good or not for a company. It hurts the industry and quite frankly it sucks!

Stay Tuned for Part II coming soon!

Until Next Week - Happy Gaming!

Question of the Week: Do you Agree with this article? Did you think I was too harsh on companies and mergers? Post your comments in the forum or email me. Unique comments will be used in an upcoming 'Letters to H2H' section!