Club Cricket Conference

Tuesday, 30th November 2021

Publishers junk 'zombie-like' Ashes video game right on cue

By Charles Randall

20 December 2013

England's fortunes in Australia have suffered the same fate as Ashes 2013, the video game. An attempt to exploit last summer's excitement via the console ended in commercial disaster when 505 Games cancelled their glitsch-laden Ashes 2013 and offered a refund.

It was very rare, probably unprecedented, for any video game to be withrawn after publication, but this happened with Ashes 2013, endorsed by the ECB and Cricket Australia no doubt to their embarrassment. The game was expected to appear in July, but rocky development by the Melbourne-based Trickstar Games delayed release until the end of November. When the game quietly appeared on Steam, it was predictable that the clunky animation, unconvincing bowling actions and weird behaviour by fielders would draw derision from gamers.

For example, James Anderson's bowling looked reminiscent of the front-on skewed action of Colin Croft, the West Indies fast bowler. In fact most bowlers almost brushed the umpire before veering to the edge of the crease.

One could hardly disagree with the chat site comments that the players looked drunk or zombie-like. The wicketkeeper often seemed to turn his back on the action, and overthrows caused stop-start mayhem among the fielders, with youtube recording the comedy for posterity. In short the whole exercise proved to be a horrible setback for 505 Games, who had hired Mark Nicholas, David Lloyd and Michael Slater for the commentary voice-overs.

In a statement 505 Games apologised to fans of cricket for the failure of what they had hoped would be a cutting-edge game, blaming the developer for a project that went over schedule and presumably over budget. "At the start of the project, 505 Games received all assurances from the developer that the engine was up to the task of creating a dynamic, cutting-edge cricket game for the modern age across multiple platforms, and unfortunately those assurances were found to be misplaced."

The publishers continued: "The net result of the challenges we have faced was a game which, despite our best efforts over the course of a two-year development, couldn't meet the quality benchmarks of either us, our licensors or our customers."

There seemed to be a list of partners, sponsors and various interested parties to placate, apart from gamers who wasted their money.

"It is clear that, in this instance, we have fallen way short of our stated aims and failed to deliver," 505 Games said. "We know that the mitigating factors, as highlighted above, hold little solace to the hordes of excited cricket fans worldwide who had hoped this year to be able to play out their fantasy of playing in the Ashes series."

If only Alastair Cook's real-life England side could simply pretend their heavy defeats and clunky batting did not exist...