I’ve never watched a company die

I’ve never watched a company die. I’ve read about it in a Game Informer, or an EGM, but I’ve never witnessed the buildup to a video game company’s death.

Now I report on the games industry. I don’t get paid to do it, but I act with as much professionalism as possible when covering a story. I write about stuff that I’ve seen time and time again. Release dates, cancellations, delays, and rarely, if I can help it, meta drama. I like to think I’m starting to garner some insight into how these things go down.

But when the time came to sit down and wait for news from THQ’s auction, I had no idea what I was in for. You wake up in the morning, make a pot of coffee, and wait. Twitter is a good moment-to-moment gauge of what various folks involved with games are thinking, and on that morning, it couldn’t be quieter. We were all waiting for something to find its way onto the internet, and confirm to us that THQ would be no more. It was as if nothing else happened that day.

Eventually something did leak out, via Twitter, of course. NeoGAF jumped on it, some blogs jumped on it. And suddenly, the bustle was back. My Twitter feed sped up and maintained a constant speed. The great F5ing began.

Which franchise goes where? Which developer goes where? What happens to that franchise? Will that company ruin that series of games I love? Does anyone lose their jobs?

It’s a bunch of information that’s difficult to parse as it trickles out from different sources. It was more information than I’ve handled before, and my post on SideQuesting shows it. I could have done better, much better in fact. And it’s something I’m going to work on.

Breaking news is tough. It calls for clarity in the eye of a storm of information. Information that is subject to change at any moment. It’s easy enough when it’s a new trailer, or a new game announcement, but it requires a great amount of skill to accurately report on one of the biggest stories in this generation of games.

I was bummed when I realized THQ was gone, but I was even more bummed to see a good developer shuttered because of it. Reading this letter from a Vigil employee was heartbreaking.

“… so maybe you can imagine what it feels like when you read the list of who bought what only to discover your name is not on the list. Why? Did we do something wrong? Were we not good enough? Were we not worth ‘anything?’ Imagine that.”

That particular quote did me in. At the time it was a little shocking, because hearing about each developer’s acquisition was slightly reassuring, and just when it seemed like almost everything would be alright (or as much as it could be), the news of Vigil came out.

Vigil’s fate reminded me how much I care about video games. It’s not rare for people to lose jobs because of something out of their control, but when it affects people I deeply respect, I remember why I do what I do, and why I try so hard.

I learned a lot while watching a company die. I learned how terribly quiet it gets before it goes down. I learned how difficult reporting on it can be. I learned how to see the good in it, and the bad. And I learned what it really feels like for your company to die.

It sucks, man.