Zen Studios Decides to Be the Bigger Man By…Being Petty Children

on September 8, 2011 7:00 PM

We here at DualShockers thought it’d be a typical news day, just another Thursday with an inbox full of press releases heavily promoting the newest shovelware, iOS and Wii games. It’s nothing new; most PR companies do their hardest to promote games that, realistically, no one wants to play, and we commend them for their hard work and dedication to their product.

However, some developers apparently do things a little differently; instead of promoting the gameplay and quality of their product, they decide to go the route of attacking other prominent companies in the industry. That’s precisely what we encountered this morning, in an e-mail from Zen Studios, makers of the popular Pinball FX2 game on XBLA.

In an e-mail titled “NO NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCES! A Good Microsoft Experience”, PR rep Mel Kirk threw down with a volley of passive-aggressive statements targeted specifically towards Team Meat and their well-known troubles with Microsoft during their development of Super Meat Boy. In it, Kirk states:

There has been quite a bit of Microsoft backlash recently, highlighted by continous Team Meat bantering about near death experiences during Super Meat Boy dev cycles. While these highly dramatic rants make for controversial headlines and ultimately get good readership, we at Zen can offer a completely different side of the equation.

Kirk then continues with a shaky defense of Microsoft’s practices, exclaiming that Zen Studios “had (and continue to have) an excellent experience working with Microsoft”. Instead of clarifying such a vague statement and going into detail, Kirk moves on to not only imply that Pinball FX2 made do with less marketing than Super Meat Boy, but that they also outperform the guys at Team Meat week in and week out.

As if that wasn’t enough, Kirk just has to make the most “pot kettle black” statement of the year by “intelligently” contemplating:

So why all the backlash? What are they not telling you? Is this a desperate attempt at marketing, PR…SALES? How come no one has mentioned that these guys have made millions – is it to protect their “we are indie and poor” image?

Yeah, that happened: Zen Studios just called Team Meat hipsters.

Kirk cranks the passive-aggressiveness up to 11 then by attacking Sony for their PSN outage, stating, “there was not much follow up on the effect on digital publishers who had all their content released with no notification the Thursday night before E3”, following that with, “it’s funny that PlayStation is now trying to convince everyone that Microsoft is keeping things back by disguising inferior technology…just sayin. [sic]” Uh, bitter much?

It’s one thing if Kirk bothered to even talk about Pinball FX2 beyond its week-by-week activity, but if the entirety of your PR pitch is that “hurr durr Microsoft roolz n Team Meat droolz”, you’re not exactly making out like the unbiased voice of reason. In our experiences with Team Meat, they were extremely appreciative of our coverage, and extremely likable when I met them at GDC, and far from melodramatic. I did send a reply back to Mel basically wondering, “where the hell did this come from?”, but no response yet.

Let this be a lesson to other indie devs: if you’re promoting your brand, there’s much, much more professional ways to do so than throwing fellow, well-liked colleagues and major first-party platforms (that your games are currently being sold on) under the bus.

 /  Staff Writer (Weekends)
Allen is an utter whore of a gamer; he's completely open-minded to all games, be they AAA blockbusters or $5 casual children's games. His focus is on indie games specifically, valuing gameplay and ingenuity over sparkly visuals and ridiculous gimmicks. When he's not geeking out over the newest art game, he's out toning his sexy, sculpted shoulders while surfing epic 1.5ft waves, or having a good time with local, high-gravity microbrews.
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