So Konami has developed a case of cold feet about the recently announced title ‘Six Days in Fallujah’ and has pulled out of publishing the title.
While I haven’t seen an official reason announced, I would have to say that in my opinion, it would be the first wave of negative press that hit just after the title was announced, with the mainstream media wheeling out the families of troops who tragically lost their lives in the current conflict to vent their disgust at yet another perceived sleight from a industry that makes things for kids to play (like it or not, that is the view held by most of the mainstream media)
Well I can’t say I am surprised with Konami’s decision.
I was impressed when they announced this game along with ‘SAW’ because I thought that this game was always a strange fit for Konami so announcing these titles was a bold move.
If you look at the company history, ‘Six Days’ did not sit comfortably with the ‘DDR’s’, ‘Silent Hill’s’ and ‘Pro Evo Soccer’ franchises that the company is known for. Hell, the game even seems out of place when stacked up next to Konami’s biggest title, the ‘Metal Gear’ series. I guess I am saying that it is a very western game, and a shooter to boot, which Japanese publishers never generally touch as the market for any shooter in Japan is small at best. I cannot imagine the top brass at Konami HQ being 100% comfortable with picking up this game in the first place, with only the potentially lucrative sales of shooters (especially military ones) counterbalancing that unease. Once the bad press came out however, it was abandon ship all the way.
So where did Konami go wrong? Could there have been a few simple decisions made that might have led to a different type of press and safeguarded the future of what appears to be potentially a very good game?
Having gone through some similar controversy when I was launching ‘Delta Force: Black Hawk Down’ for NovaLogic back in 2003, I would have to say yes.
First, while I am a huge defender of free speech and artistic freedom, I think given that the conflict is still going on and there are troops coming home every day in caskets, the game should have gone through a name change. ‘Six Days’ sounds like a bad mini-series starring Chuck Norris and was always going to attract negative attention from the mainstream media, leading to reactions like those listed on Destructoid. A more sensitive and less sensational title is needed, please.
Secondly, given that Konami and the dev team at Atomic were already working with veterans of the conflict, would it not have made sense to use those contacts to outreach to the various support groups who help the bereaved families before the game was announced? Perhaps show them the concept? Maybe agree to promote their work and make them feel part of the project? That’s the strategy we employed at Novalogic when we worked with the Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF), and when they saw how respectfully we were handling the subject matter with the aid of several Special Forces Vets who had been on the ground, they backed us completely and helped us outreach to a community of families. Families who were initially outraged at the perception that we were attempting to cash in on the loss of their loved ones. Novalogic also agreed to donate a portion of the profits from the game to the SOWF, something that Sony Pictures (the makers of the Black Hawk Down movie), did not do, but they got no flack whatsoever for that. Had Konami done their homework, they would have realized what they were dealing with and the controversy might well have been neutered greatly.
Thirdly, I would have not announced the game at an event where it sat next to titles like ‘Silent Hill’ and especially ‘SAW’. This was always going to need kid glove handling, and anyone at Konami who thought they could just wheel it out without special treatment and not get hammered by certain parties is naive at best, bloody foolish at worst. This game needed its own event for its announcement– something serious, subdued and balanced by respect for the subject matter. Taking someone from seeing the blood and gore of ‘SAW’ to seeing ‘Six Days’ was never going to be a smart move, and again lacked sensitivity.
At the end of the day, it’s a shame a potentially great title was mishandled and now resides in limbo. I hope that the game comes out in some form, because I am a fan of the genre and I have heard that it is not simply a standard ‘run and gun’ shooter, and heaven knows we need more of those in these days of twitch gaming.