Chris Avellone, a famous RPG developer with his name in the credits of games like Icewind Dale 1 and 2, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2, Alpha Protocol, Fallout: New Vegas, and Pillars of Eternity, only announced he was working on Arkane Studios’ Prey a few months back. Despite only a short time passing since the announcement, though, it seems he’s moved on already.
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“I’ve been wrapped up with Prey for a while now,” says Avellone in a recent interview with Fallout fan site Sugarbombed.
Back when he announced his role on the game in June, we speculated that he might be helping lay the groundwork on the game’s RPG systems. It’s looking likely that this is the case, or perhaps he was lending his writing talents to the project. Either way, he’s moved on now.
The interview also sheds some light on how Avellone feels about publishers Bethesda, with whom he’s worked with on both this and Fallout: New Vegas, particularly how he feels about their marketing, which is apt following their recent decision to not send out review copies ahead of release.
“Overall, I think Bethesda is one of the few companies that do marketing right,” says Avellone. “I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again – I have a lot of respect for [Bethesda VP of marketing] Pete Hines. If you see him on the trenches at E3, he takes his job seriously and isn’t f***ing away on his mobile phone while journalists ask the developers shitty questions that PR should be listening to and monitoring (sorry for the tirade, am channeling past experiences).”
He goes on to talk about how Hines is quick to get stuck in demoing a game if needed, rather than hanging back and sticking rigidly to a pre-defined role. Beyond that, away from the individuals, Avellone thinks Bethesda’s marketing tactics work because they plan every move.
“This is rare in my experience,” he says. “Bethesda is clear about messaging, they time and focus information releases, schedule demo dates properly (ask any developer, but demo deliveries should never be sprung as a surprise to any development team because demos can derail development by months), and more. Also, if there’s any doubts as to how well marketing does their jobs, I’ll just say this – you can buy Fallout t-shirts in Target. Target. I still can’t believe it.
“That never would have happened at Black Isle, but Bethesda made Fallout visible to the public, which is no small feat. Even my parents recognise the Fallout logo (and the Vault Boy) when they see it – hell, I wasn’t able to do that and I’m their son, and this is my livelihood.”
It’s a fair point. Fallout has grown from a relatively niche RPG to the sales behemoth it is now. There were 12 million copies of Fallout 4 shipped to retailers just to satisfy pre-orders, and that was with just six months between announcement and release.
“So, yeah, I think they do a good job with marketing,” reiterates Avellone. “Other folks I’ve worked with in the past have the exact opposite opinion, however, but that’s up to them to outline their grievances. I don’t agree with their opinion, and their opinions were so vague/hyperbolic it was hard to argue them – and I hate hyperbole in any event, it’s the equivalent of lying to make your ill-founded point.”