An Open Letter to Phil Fish

by onAugust 21, 2013

So, Fez II is cancelled. A game many of us were looking forward to is now cancelled because you felt the game industry was too hostile for you to bear. Your exact words were ‘this is isn’t the result of any one thing, but the end of a long, bloody campaign.’

Fair enough, Phil. You didn’t cancel the sequel to your well-received indie game because of some ‘boorish f-ck’ but rather you did so because you felt like you were part of some ‘bloody campaign’. However, that’s still a problem Phil. What campaign, exactly?

A letter to Phil Fish

As far as videogame developers go, you’re not very well-liked, I get that. For a while, the main reason for that was the time you insulted about an entire country’s videogame capabilities in the bluntest way imaginable. Seems silly that your rep dropped over such a small thing, but it didn’t paint you in a good light. I like to think you earned a good chunk of that bile.

What else? The people who constantly complained about not being able to play your game on XBLA and then the people who wanted it on their platform of choice? Phil, those are people who are telling you they really like your game and want to play it. How in the hell is that any kind of abuse? That’s like being mad because everyone wants to be your friend. I get that they often misunderstand how hard it is to release a game and then port it to other systems, but they’re still essentially fans. Zealous fans for that matter.

A letter to Phil Fish

What about the journalists? Well, considering the fact that everyone and their mother gave your game a shining review (propelling you into the 90’s on metacritic) and even myself (read my review on At7addak.com), I’d say the games journalism community has done okay by you as well. That doesn’t mean you owe them anything. Contrary to what Marcus Beer said, you don’t have to thank the press for promotion by answering their every query, you can comment at your own discretion. But you should at least acknowledge that the games press has been very fair to you. Despite having a game with 8-bit graphics in the 21st century, you were admired for your work and many promoted your game as fun and unique.

So where’s this ‘long, bloody campaign’, Phil? You seem to have it better than most devs. You don’t work with EA, so nobody’s accused you of being Hitler yet. And you’re not involved with Call of Duty, so you’re okay as far as death threats are concerned. The games industry is filled with fans and even sometimes commentators who can be crass, vulgar and plain rude, but as far as abuse goes you remain relatively well off. Why can’t you focus on the fact that a lot of people like and support your indie project?

A letter to Phil Fish

But now everyone knows your name. People who thought Fez only referred to a goofy-looking hat now know you as the guy who cancelled a game over a twitter spat. My advice to you, Phil, is to try and control your personal feelings. The problem isn’t the game industry in your case, the problem is your attitude. I’m sure if you call up Marcus, he’d be willing to talk things over and maybe you two could patch things up. You could come on his show and apologize, you could patch things up and then you could turn this whole fiasco into some free publicity. Which is what the ‘army of assholes’ is actually good for.

I realize geeks can be quite hostile at times Phil, but they’re also passionate and active. It’s a double-edged sword. One geek will call you ugly names, the other will post Let’s Plays on his channel and maybe even get a couple people to buy your game. As an indie game dev, you really benefit from online word-of-mouth, and so you gotta cut people some slack.

Honestly the people who made the most sense on the message boards were the ones who looked past your media image and just focused on your game. You should have the same outlook.

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