Gamasutra: The Art & Business of Making Gamesspacer
View All     RSS
October 20, 2014
arrowPress Releases
October 20, 2014
PR Newswire
View All

If you enjoy reading this site, you might also want to check out these UBM Tech sites:

Atomic Sees Layoffs As Controversial  Fallujah  Fails To Find Publisher
Atomic Sees Layoffs As Controversial Fallujah Fails To Find Publisher
August 6, 2009 | By Leigh Alexander

August 6, 2009 | By Leigh Alexander
More: Console/PC

Atomic Games says fears over Six Days In Fallujah's subject matter have meant it hasn't gotten funding nor a publisher for a project, and that it's had to make an unspecified staff reduction today.

"In the words of Marine officer Chesty Puller, 'We're surrounded. That simplifies the problem,'" said Atomic in a press statement. The studio says development at Atomic will continue with a smaller team funded by sister company Destineer.

Atomic, which also cites "low video game sales this summer" as a reason for its current challenges, notes that its staff of 75 has remained intact until the reductions this week. It called this a "testament" to their commitment to the project in the face of challenges.

The third-person shooter was first announced in April 2008, slated to release on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC in 2010. Based on the Second Battle of Fallujah in late 2004 and backed by a press campaign highlighting the realism of the military storytelling, the concept drew instant criticism worldwide.

Atomic Games aimed to stem the controversy by working with a number of ex-Marines involved in the action and claimed that the idea originally came from veterans of the conflict.

But the controversy proved more than publisher Konami wanted to handle, and Konami dropped the title only weeks after it was initially announced. Atomic has since been seeking another publisher and has been unable to find one.

"We wish to assure the dozens of Marine veterans who have collectively invested hundreds of hours in this project that, while we have been badly wounded, we will fight on," said Atomic, suggesting that the studio wants to continue pursuing the project. "The stories of your brothers' courage and sacrifice in Fallujah must be shared with the world."

Gamasutra has asked Atomic for clarification on the depth of the staff reductions and will update with any further comment we receive.

Related Jobs

Wicked Loot
Wicked Loot — Mountain View, California, United States

3D Artist & Animator
Vicarious Visions / Activision
Vicarious Visions / Activision — Albany, New York, United States

Human Resources Manager
Giant Sparrow
Giant Sparrow — Playa Vista, California, United States

Lead Artist
Digital Extremes
Digital Extremes — LONDON, Ontario, Canada



steve roger
profile image
I will probably draw some fire for this comment (note the double entendre), but I this is just an observation. Regarding the comment:

"We wish to assure the dozens of Marine veterans who have collectively invested hundreds of hours in this project that, while we have been badly wounded, we will fight on," said Atomic, suggesting that the studio wants to continue pursuing the project. "The stories of your brothers' courage and sacrifice in Fallujah must be shared with the world."

While I wouldn't mind the game being made, and I am a person who would likely buy the game, I can see the trouble with sponsoring this game. Comments like this one just seem, well, inappropriate and down right exploitive. And the game itself draws this kind of observation due to the fact that it is an entertainment product married to a bloody battle.

The developers is comparing themselves to wounded soldiers. That is problematic. Because it is a tongue in cheek comment that comes off as insensitive. It appears that the developer is trying to gain sympathy, and attempting to guilt a publisher into supporting the product financially by comparing themselves to Marines that fought the battle.

Sure it helps to point out that actual Marines have worked on the game, but it does not come off well that Atomic claims that it is "wounded." The comment "The stories of your brothers' courage and sacrifice in Fallujah must be shared with the world." is troublesome because Atomic isn't trying to just tell this story but is trying to fund an entertainment product.

I suppose that the topic itself (game plus real recent battle) is just a double edged sword (another double entendre). Which is probably why the game doesn't have a publisher. No matter what the developers try to say they are going to be subject to criticism for being exploitive.

PLEASE NOTE THAT I am just pointing out the difficulty of the making a game like this. I am not arguing against it.

Joseph L. Blackwell, Jr.
profile image
I agree with the bad choice of wording, but I think these developers have a right to make this game. Where and when do we draw the line in what people can and cannot do creatively? There are numerous films, comdey skits, cartoons, and TV shows based on or poking fun at war and people involved in it, so why single out the video game industry.

I just hope that when and if the game finally comes out, that it is actually good.

Tyler Peters
profile image
The developers have a right to make the game, and the public has the right to refuse to buy it.

The issue with publishing this game is that significant research has shown that the public is much easier to sell on fiction versus fact when it comes to recent events.

Remember the minor uproar when the rumor was that COD 4 was set in Iraq? But then they said it was a fictional story and things calmed down.

Will making a game about Fallujah equal good gameplay? Maybe.

It is making a game on Fallujah exploitive? Probably.

Is marketing a game about Fallujah hard as hell? Most definitely.

Josh Green
profile image
I'm very amused by the fact that much of the game industry is frightened when it comes to games that deal with real-life issues (such as a recent war). Instead of embracing this opportunity to tell the story of these marines (albeit semi-fictionalized) in a way no other medium can, publishers shrug their shoulders and hope someone else will take on the "risk" of publishing this.

Granted, I have no idea about the quality of the game in question. For all I know, it could be another generic shooter wrapped in an Iraq War skin. But if this isn't the case, then there's really no reason to not publish this game other than pure fear of the unknown. I can already think of a few ways to effectively market the product. You can pay to send out the veterans with a demo of the game to various towns and cities across the US. After a brief presentation where the veteran talks about his involvement in the war and his contribution to the game, the people gathered there can try out the game with the veteran. It'd be a way to humanize the subject matter, get national PR, and get core gamers interested in the title.

On a related note... Wouldn't it be nice if there were an indy publisher that would take on products that are artistically and/or socially relevant? It could be the game industry equivalent to the Weinsteins' Lions Gate. I know this is wishful thinking... But a guy can dream, right?

Tomer Chasid
profile image
This is very difficult to balance on the moral "scale". On the one hand, I don't see a difference between basing a violent game on real events whether they were less than 10 years ago, or WWII title, for example. Both are exploitative, and we have our own "need" to push boundaries (and Hollywood) to thank for that. I don't think its necessarily a bad thing, but it does reflect on how crude we can be as a society. I would give the game merit if it was considered somewhat educational, a la "Waltz with Bashir" because it is difficult for this country (and any other) to authentically pronounce the tragedies of war in ways that is not meant to entertain. War is more than a disturbing part of life, and we should seek to understand it and not necessarily glorify it. We are meant to believe that every soldier should strive for victory and glory, but for the most part I doubt that they feel any pride and glory. They are scared people, just like you and me, who are put in a situation they would rather not be in on fear of dealing death or getting killed. Would you?

Bob Stevens
profile image
"Where and when do we draw the line in what people can and cannot do creatively?"

Certainly not here. This is about money, not creativity.

Ernest Adams
profile image
I understand, with little basis in evidence, that the game is more in the survival horror genre than it is an MOH-style shooter. If that is correct, I believe it more accurately depicts the true nature of war -- survival horror -- than any any FPS hitherto, and for that reason alone deserves to be published.

Andrew Spearin
profile image
The rhetoric in their statement likely stems from the time they have spent amongst Marines.

I think it is more exploitative for games to depict war the way they currently do than what Six Days is attempting to achieve. Heck, I realized this, before the Iraq war even began, as a gamer/soldier going through basic training at age sixteen [in Canada]... the Insurgency mod for Half-Life 2 is the result (albeit it achieves only part of my vision, and I am no longer involved with the development of the project).

Look at how many games throw 'realistic' onto the features list. Yet, most are hardly a 'realistic' representation, or are in certain regards such as visuals or audio. That is the probably the reason why naysayers of this game are doubtful - too many preconceptions of games representing war. What will it take for a game like this to be published? Developers who are all/mostly combat veterans? Or is it only a matter of finances?

John Paul Zahary
profile image
I have seen documentaries on this battle which include the events leading up to and concluding the campaign. Although controversial, if a realistic game could be produced, telling the soldiers story, it could be amazing.

From the unfortunate deaths of the contractors, to first seige, to the pullback and security blunder, back to Fallujah once again.

Yes, it can be sad or controversial, but it shows a realistic depiction of the on-the-spot, war and diplomacy and how to overcome it.

However, if this is just going to be a pick up and play arcade shooter, don't even bother. There is a strong story to be told and if done effectively, it could work and possibly be a good educational tool.

John Mawhorter
profile image
Honestly I always cringe when I read that a Hollywood studio has been so scared by the outrage that they pull or change a product. But with Hollywood (which arguably has more of a mass audience) it makes more sense. Not only do very few people who would protest over this actually buy and play games (although some might control their teenagers' purchases), but noone actually knows publishers by name unless they're real hardcore gamers. MGM and Universal and Fox are household names, whereas I don't think anyone but EA, Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony would (maybe) be so for the game industry. I don't think there is face to lose here (and the controversy has certainly given a hell of a lot of free publicity). If I can't sway you with the ethical/artistic argument that this game should simply be published because it's a serious documentary effort about an important event, then at least be a money-hungry corporate bastard and publish it for the profits (ignoring a minor PR storm that won't lose your company sales).

James Castile
profile image
Interesting article about the impact of "cultural diplomacy."

BTW any honorably discharged Marine will tell you, "There is no such thing as an ex-Marine."

There are only former Marines. Being a Marine changes you entirely lol. Semper Fi!

to to
profile image
What do they need a Publisher for? Just put it up on Steam or

Kenneth Hurley
profile image
I'm a little confused by this. Atomic Games was bought by Destineer, wasn't it?. Isn't Destineer a publisher?