NEWS - Thursday, November 17, 2005


Rare’s Perfect Gamble

It was an extraordinary gamble. The game passed certification after the disks had been pressed. If the company had waited for certification to come through before okaying manufacture, Perfect Dark Zero would not have been available at the launch of Xbox 360. Having ordered replication of the disks, Microsoft and Rare had to cross their fingers for a positive certification. If Microsoft's notoriously strict procedure - which we understand was not eased for PDZ in any way - had failed, the disks would have been trashed and the game would have been late. The certification process is the final stage a game goes through before manufacture. Microsoft's team picks through the game making sure there are no bugs, that menus all work correctly, and that there are no compatibility issues. Games that fail, even in the smallest detail, are sent back to publishers and developers for changes. The process can take days, or even weeks. Microsoft's developer Rare has been under enormous pressure to deliver two games for the launch of Xbox 360 - Kameo and Perfect Dark Zero, with PDZ the flagship title for the entire launch. Failure to make retail on November 22 would have been a sales and publicity disaster. Taking a risk PDZ executive producer Jim Veevaert told Next Generation, "Typically we go through a certification process to get a game finished and then we release to manufacturing. We took some risks and manufactured the disks over five days before certification." When asked about the risks involved he said, "If the certification had not passed, we would have had hundreds of thousands of disks on our hands. It was us taking a risk to get the game there day one and there for launch." He said, "Typically you can take upwards of 12 to 14 days to go through certification. In this case we didn't have the time, so we said 'go for it'." He said the team was confident, if not certain, that the certification would pass. "The team had been going through the game over the last few weeks to get us to a point where we felt really comfortable. Rare does a lot of work in terms of polishing the game so we felt pretty confident it was time to let it go." Microsoft has manufactured 700,000 copies of Perfect Dark Zero for the U.S. market, with a target hardware tie-ratio of 1:1. Veevaert said that figure was based on the early launch period of the hardware, and that a further run is expected in the days ahead.
Source: http://www.next-gen.biz/index.php

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