The Telegraphed Gazette. 26 January 2013
Hello everybody, and welcome back to the Telegraphed Gazette for the 26th of January 2013: my name is Vincent, bringing you the latest round of news from Montreal, the games industry, as well as a few select stories. You can leave suggestions for future editions in the comments section below this article, or in the suggestions tab at the top of the page. In the headlines today: former Canadian Forces commander raises some concerns over DND’s spending on private contractors, Minister Lisee gives some hints into the Parti Quebecois’ new sovereignty strategy, THQ is divided and sold off, and Vigil Games closes its doors.
Retired Lieutenant-General Andrew Leslie comments on some dangers that the Canadian Forces could face should the spending continue down this road. CBC recently got received a copy of a report in which Lt.Gen. Leslie comments on how the rise in spending for private contractors and services for the Canadian Forces can hurt the Canadian Forces as the money being spent on corporate services is not being spent on the soldiers who serve in the military. Leslie raises some concerns over how 22% of the operational budget for the military was slashed, and in turn the funds were allocated towards more private services. Currently the Minister of Defence has defended the spending, stating that these private services are necessary in their efforts to support the men and women in uniform. Now this issue I felt was important to include in this week’s edition of the gazette, as I am a supporter of our military here in Canada. Now at first I was upset when I read this article about how the military was seeing a reduction in their operational budget, and yet spending for the military has increased. Private services should only be contracted on an as need to basis, and should never take precedence over spending for the actual military itself. Now if the Minister of Defense can justify why the money is going to private services and not the military, and what sort of services are being contracted instead of making a blanket statement covering all the elements, then I might support this action. Yet at the present time all I see going on is private contract after private contract taking priority over spending to better our military capabilities. I understand there are also companies out there who work on a fixed budget, making supplies for the military; they are not my concern. What I am taking aim at so to speak, are companies who waste time by sending in surveyors to “inspect” various installations and garrisons. If they are paying six-digit salaries to some pen-pusher who only develops reports on the military, rather than creating concrete ideas for the military to move forward with – in areas such as procurement, training, or operational readiness – then this “special service” should frankly be tossed out the window. It would be similar to if Parliament struck two-hundred subcommittees to review a department, all the while raising spending on that department, in which the actual department in question sees less and less of as the years go on. Sadly it would be foolish to hope that in the near future – ie: 6 months – this issue gets resolved; rather I just hope it gets resolved “soon.” You can read the full article in the link below this topic.
Quebec Cabinet minister Jean-Francois Lisee has made note of a new strategy to promote Quebec sovereignty according to the Montreal Gazette. Minister Lisee hinted towards the PQ’s sovereignty ‘action plan’ in a speech given to university students on Wednesday, January 23, 2013; and stated that the relationship between Quebec and Canada is similar to a couple in their final stage. Lisee stated that the “couple” is in their final phase, and that they are indifferent to one another; to which he added that it might be a good time to push forth with the sovereignty agenda in order to further improve Quebec as their current position in Canada is deterring them from doing just that. Now further into the article it states that the PQ will announce their “action plan” sometime around February 8th or 9th in the council meeting in Drummondville, Quebec; and that their strategy is aiming to promote the benefits of independence, as well as to sell it in a more comforting manner. Lisee also attempted to briefly promote the idea by citing that 50 percent of Canadians feel no attachment towards the province of Quebec, and therefore they should consider leaving as they are not warmly cherished by the rest of the nation.
First thing I have to say is this: so this is where the money that was slashed from education, infrastructure, and health care is going towards. The PQ government released to the OLF a good 23.4 million dollar increase in their budget, and now they plan on spending tax payer dollars on promoting a new sovereignty agenda. This is not at all surprising, because the Parti Quebecois has always had their platform set on independence. Any hope of the sovereignty debate fully disappearing from Quebec politics is futile, for the PQ government, along with the language coalition which promotes and seeks to establish a unilingual Quebec; both desire separation from Canada. This party and their supporters do not have the interests of all Quebecers at heart, but they never did to begin with. Now what is interesting to note is how the National Assembly has reacted to this message. The Liberals and the Quebec Solitare have openly criticized this announcement, along with the Coalition Avenir Quebec. All three parties are stating that Marois must respect the wishes of Quebecers, who only gave her a minority government in the fall of 2012. Quebecers are going to be in for yet another round of independence campaigns; which could have the adverse effect on the PQ government. Now some of you may not be aware of this, but many Quebecers feel that the PQ government is out of touch with the rest of the populace: aside from their usual collection of hardcore loyalists. Speaking to a few friends from Quebec, it is clear that the majority of citizens have gotten over past wrongs done by Ottawa, and are now no longer in a “committed relationship” with the Parti Quebecois, if they were even in one to begin with. Ultimately what this could do to the Parti Quebecois is put it into its’ final stages of “retirement” so to speak as Quebecers look to the other parties in the National Assembly when it comes to provincial governance. You can read the full article as well as an additional piece in the section below this paragraph.
Some grim news for those of you hoping to see THQ survive through its financial woes; the company has been divided amongst various publishers and developers. According to gamasutra.com, THQ was divided in 24 hours by Sega who took on Relic, Koch Media who took Volition, as well as the Metro series, Crytek who took the Homefront series, Take 2 who snatched Evolve, and Ubisoft who took THQ Montreal and Obsidian’s South Park game. The company was unable to make a last minute purchase, and as a result it became bankrupt and had to sell off all her assets. A side note: Clearlake Capital Group did not get a piece of the prize as the CEO decided to opt for higher bids on individual assets rather than a wholesale purchase by Clearlake Capital. Not all the assets were successfully sold off, as Vigil Games – the studio behind Darksiders and Darksiders 2 – were unable to find a purchaser, and were forced to lay off all of her staff. Now this does not mean that the staff at the other studios are safe, as stated in the information on the article, a memo was sent around detailing any plans to take on the current staff is entirely up to the new owners of each asset. Assets unsold will remain with THQ until a suitable buyer is found.
Well this is a rather sad story: THQ was a well reputed developer, and all her assets were of the highest quality when it comes to games development. It is definitely sad to hear that so many talented people will be released from service so to speak as the company ruptures and breaks off into fragments. Certainly we all hoped that THQ would remain in one piece, but unfortunately it is not the case, and with the sale of her assets, this spells the end of one of – in my opinion – the best developers, of which also goes a talented team who spent years making the best video games on the market. Many of my games: such as the Warhammer 40k Dawn of War series, Darksiders, and Red Faction Guerrilla, all were from THQ, all were equally entertaining and I will confess to spending countless hours on the titles mentioned and more. Yet reality is what it is, and although THQ did her best to remain afloat, the company has fallen on hard times and can no longer sustain itself. Ultimately the games industry is a competitive industry, and with one age behind us, another begins as the assets start new “lives” with their new families. Hopefully we will see THQ reborn in the not so distant future as either a new brand, or a complete rebirth with the old team. You can read the full article in the link below this paragraph.
With the end of THQ, and no buyers in sight, Vigil Games is forced to close its doors and release the staff from service. According to gamasutra.com, THQ could not find a buyer in Wednesday’s auction, and as such Vigil Games will have to dissolve her Austin team and the developers, artists, and software engineers to name a few will have to find work elsewhere. This is sad news indeed as previously mentioned in the article above, Vigil Games were the makers of the Darksiders series, and were a very talented team of which it is a shame to see that their recently released Darksiders 2 did not do so well in the 2012 summer months, and such could have attributed to THQ’s downfall. There is not much else to say as all this unfolded rather quickly on the 23rd of January. With the end of studios such as Gas Powered Games and Vigil Games, it is indeed a very sad time for those working in the games industry. You can read this story as well as the subsequent open letter by Vigil’s Ben Cureton in the address below this paragraph.
That concludes this week’s edition of the Telegraphed Gazette. Check back next Saturday, February 2nd 2013 for another round of select stories from Montreal, the games industry, and other select stories of my choosing. Once again you can leave a suggestion/comment in the section below this story, or in the suggestions tab at the top of the page. Before I go, I just would like to clarify where the comments section is: when you click on the title of the article, it will bring you to the article on its own page, and beneath the article is the comments section. Note that the comments section will not appear on the main page as only publications appear on the front page to save space and help visitors access the content. Thank you all for reading; my name has been Vincent, and I will see you all next time.