The fallout between Brutal Legend‘s development studio Double Fine and its original Activision sparked months of off and on comments between studio heads, not to mention a legal battle for publishing rights between the two biggest names in the industry. A voice unexpectedly absent from the fray was the normally verbose Activision CEO Bobby Kotick. Speaking in a recent interview with Joystiq, Kotick set the record straight on his thoughts on the whole ‘debacle,’ claiming to be occupied with the Vivendi merger at the time.
“Vivendi had advanced [Tim Schafer, Brutal Legend‘s lead designer] like 15 or 20 million dollars. He missed all the milestones, missed all the deadlines, as Tim has a reputation of doing.” Kotick detailed,”I don’t know if it was a decision not to publish it. I don’t even really know where we were in the negotiation and discussions about what was going to happen to the product. Unbeknownst to everybody, they didn’t have the rights to sell. So all we’d said is, ‘Look: If you go and do a deal with somebody else, pay back the money that was advanced to you.’ That was all we were looking for,” Kotick explained. “We ultimately got a fraction of the money that had been advanced to him, and as far as I know, that was the end of it. But I don’t even know if there was a lawsuit from my recollection.”
“I think there was a determination made that it would not be a successful game,” he added. “When you have projects that repeatedly miss their milestones, where they change direction multiple times, where lots and lots of the folks who are involved in the game leave, their resource changes, the likelihood that that project is going to be turned around and be successful is very low. So I think that maybe nobody was able to clearly articulate that this is not a judgment about Tim Schafer. I could honestly tell you, sitting here, I never saw Brutal Legend and so the judgment of the people who I trust and respect about the quality of the game, and whether or not audiences would be excited and enthusiastic about this game, was ‘No.’ And that’s why it was not a commercial success.”