Talking as part of an in-depth interview published on Gamasutra today, Rare's James Thomas and Justin Cook have been discussing Viva Pinata's franchise history, suggesting Microsoft's Gears Of War marketing launch somewhat overshadowed Viva Pinata's.
Thomas, a key programmer on the critically acclaimed family-oriented title, suggested of the game, which launched last holiday season exclusively for Xbox 360:
"I think it was always stated that we were going to be the trailblazers. A lot of the preproduction on Viva Piņata was basically going, "We are going to take this round to third party publishers and show that Microsoft and Rare are committed to trying to expand the market themselves. Come join the party." Obviously, that flood of titles hasn't hit just yet. I suppose someone's going to go first, and we were them."
Justin Cook, who worked as a designer on Viva Pinata and is now helping to oversee the franchise as it moves on with Krome's Viva Pinata Party Animals and the Nintendo DS version of the game, commented of the Xbox 360 version:
"I suppose we knew from the start that we were going out to the limit there, because we were going to do something different to the usual game for the 360, obviously. I don't know if it worked out badly for us -- we've got close to half a million sales now, so that isn't a terrible debut for a game."
Finally, and most intriguingly, Thomas commented on the difficulties of successfully launching a family-related title on the relatively 'hardcore'-oriented Xbox 360, suggesting:
"Most interestingly I think from our point of view, it was interesting to see how the marketing budget was split last Christmas, because obviously everyone knew that Microsoft were publishing Gears of War and Viva Piņata. Yet, so much of the money went towards Gears of War, which is going to sell millions anyway. It was a bit of like, "What about the other franchise?" I think we got left in the wake somewhat. Hopefully with the PC version this Christmas, it might get something of a second wind."
The full Gamasutra interview with Thomas and Cook is now available, including a host of interesting discussion topics, from the current projects of the Stamper brothers to the future of Viva Pinata and what Rare might be working on next.