Eidos haven't had a great year and were saved by that much better performing UK Game developer on the stock market, SCI. The company already decided to take the long road to recovery by releasing another bug-ridden Championship Manager game, not a smart move when your own former developers are now in competition with you. Now, chasing the dollar trail of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas as the PC and Xbox versions look set to give Rockstar sales of another million.
25 to Life features the ability to join a gang and kill policemen which is what has irrirtated one US Senator with a track record for wanting external regulation for the games industry. So far, so GTA, you've been able to do that for years, but the last three games have won awards, were as funny as they were violent and had won awards usually reserved for film and television. In addition, they were unswervingly adult and even the politicians could understand a BBFC 18 symbol even if some parents could not.
Most importantly, the GTA games feature morality within amorality - hurt a policeman in anyway never mind kill one, and they're on your tail until they hunt you down and kill you, with few means of escape - much like real life and only reflective of Cops or America's Wildest Police Videos. This new game will have to beat the script, soundtrack and voice acting of the market leader to make an impact and start Eidos on the road to recovery - and sell to a lot less kids and teens, who may decide that GTA is all they need if it was acquired while underage.
We hope 25 to Life will not end up as a pointless exercise in drumming up controversy to overhype a mediocre game. However, touting the game's content has certainly piqued interest and whatever the politicians say, it's whether gamers pick up the Xbox title, preferably in the tens to hundreds of thousands, that will matter in the end. Eidos escaped the billion dollar lawsuit following the Columbine massacre because Final Fantasy had no guns in it - this time, it would be harder to stem the potential litigation due to the content.
Microsoft has no plans to end the licensing agreement between Eidos and itself for Xbox game development, as demanded by US Senator Charles Schumer. "25 to Life was developed for a mature audience and has been rated so it will be sold only to the appropriate audiences," said the Redmond giant. If the title receives an Xbox360 version, then it will have its own GTA Pretender on a new platform - as usual, having a politician slam the title may (unfortunately) give the title more advertising than it may deserve - or we may have the title that moves the genre on a step. When the game hits the shelves, it'll be interesting to review it when it's out later this summer.