John Romero on Daikatana "Bitch" Advertisement

By Brian Leahy, May 19, 2010 6:00pm PDT In an interview with Gamesauce magazine (via IndustryGamers), legendary developer John Romero laments over the famed Daikatana advertisement in which he claimed he was "going to make you his bitch." The ad was met with an incredible amount of adversity and led to a large amount of negative press over the game and for Romero himself.

Speaking candidly about the advertisement, John paints a picture of what happened:

I never wanted to make you my bitch, not you, not them, not any of the other players and, most importantly, not any of my fans. Up until that ad, I felt I had a great relationship with the gamer and game development community, and that ad changed everything. That stupid ad. I regret it, and I apologize for it.

Romero explains that the ad originated from trash-talking during deathmatches, but without context it comes across as abrasive and offensive.

There's the whole culture of smack talk that goes with games and especially FPS's, and that was something I was known for. If you deathmatched me, if you even played a game of foosball against me, I was so over the top. And I wasn't alone. At id, we smashed shit - desks, monitors, keyboards, whatever. It was part of the culture at the time. So, while we all said shit to one another, it was within context. Imagine if someone from The Who went into their local music store and started smashing guitars. A lot of people would be thinking, "What the fuck? What assholes!" On stage, in context, though, it's not only okay, but expected.

Although the man handling marketing for Daikatana was fired a few months after the ad was released, Romero admits that he "should have stopped it." Regardless, he is aware that the game itself had issues outside of the failed marketing campaign, citing the sidekick AI and the volatile situation at ION Storm during development.

It's a great read on some of the history behind the ad along with Romero's beliefs on MMO development and some fond memories of releasing DOOM.

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  • There's an underlying reason why Romero's advertisement was mocked: The world had simply moved on. Nerd reasoning follows.

    Look, most of you could probably flesh this out by pointing out your own examples, but in the 90's, there was a whole grungy, look-at-the-maggots-of-life kind of movement going on. Grim and gritty, they called it. Suddenly, Image Comics, with all the laughable artwork and ultra-violent storylines, was the norm. It wasn't a Supreme story unless someone's intestines were on the floor, with their eyes poked out as they screamed in agony, by page 18. I believe someone more succinct called it the "GRUNT! RAGE! FUCK!" era of comics.

    Follow me now, because it's about to tie in. As a culture, we all just... got sick of this stuff. There were signs everywhere that we'd reached our limit. In nerdlore, one of the seminal signs was the DC comic book series Kingdom Come. I am sure there are other cultural events, but basically, Kingdom Come restored the heroic nature of the genre, got rid of all the god damned bandoliers and other horse shit, did away with the retardedly big guns, and stopped with the erupting digestive tracts. It was a repudiation of the "Grim, Gritty" period of comics.

    Around the same time, the rest of the nerd world lightened up, too. Suddenly, EXTREME!!! intonations of making someone your bitch, seemed dated. Daikatana probably would have done well 5 years earlier.

    It was just too late for something like this to be cool. 5 years earlier and the same people (5 years younger, of course) would say "HOLY SHIT THE DOOM GUY'S GOING TO MAKE PEOPLE HIS BITCHES". Instead, he got mockery.

    Look. I didn't say this would be a brilliant post, but someone help me out here. There are plenty of other examples that by 2002 we were just done with something as trite as Daikatana's storyline, attitude, and feel. That doesn't mean it didn't have its charms. It just felt... 90's.

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