nxtbl 6 days ago

They used to be, at least during the Amiga heydays.

Sid Meier's Pirates!, Civilization, Colonization, Railroad Tycoon etc. [1]

David Braben presents Frontier - Elite II

Also after Populous, games like Powermonger, Black & White etc were all known to be "by" Peter Molyneux.

Then there were also isometric shooters by some John Carmack

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sid_Meier#At_MicroProse

  • tezza 6 days ago

    Sid Meyer says in his memoir that Pirates! was so unpopular with the business execs that the Execs suggested putting “Sid Meier’s” at the front to improve sales and associate any failure with Sid alone.

    Sid says it stuck after Pirates! was a success.

    • pwdisswordfish0 6 days ago

      Highly recommended book! Robin Williams apparently also played an indirect role, suggesting the OP’s question at some conference of the Software Publisher’s Association (although this is apocryphal even according to the book).

      I also find it pretty amusing that the other big name on video game boxes – although not much involved with the games themselves – Tom Clancy, established this custom with a Sid Meier game, Tom Clancy’s Red Storm Rising.

      There is actually only one other name I can think of that prominently appeared on the box, American McGee. Will Wright, Shigeru Miyamoto, Hideo Kojima, Tim Schafer, Ron Gilbert, John Romero and John Carmack could have pulled it off, but AFAIK never did, although their popularity did boost many a game’s sales. Cliffy B also comes to mind as a game designer I can put a name and face to.

    • gabereiser 6 days ago

      Fact. He never intended for his name to prefix the game titles he made. Sid’s pretty humble.

  • nicolas_t 6 days ago

    Sierra used to advertise their designers

    So you have Al lowe's Leisure Suit Larry, Roberta William's king quests, Jane Jensen's Gabriel Knight, The Cole's Quest for Glory and Mark Crowe and Scott Murphy's Space Quest among the more well known.

    • kaffeeringe 6 days ago

      Everybody knew, Lord British made Ultima.

    • kyriakos 6 days ago

      Grew up on those games. Legendary story tellers.

  • pvitz 6 days ago

    When John Romero was at Ion Storm, Daikatana's marketing was also centred around him.

    • jstarfish 6 days ago

      IIRC these days he says he had nothing to do with that decision.

      • m4tk4n45z051e 6 days ago

        Partly true. He said in an interview that it wasn't his idea, but one of the young employees of Ion Storm. He wasn't excited about it (infamous "John Romero's about to make you his b*ch"), but, reluctantly, he gave green light to it.

  • amalcon 6 days ago

    There have been at least a few games whose PR mentioned Warren Spector's involvement.

  • mpeg 6 days ago

    They still are very much, especially for smaller studios

    David Cage (Fahrenheit, Heavy Rain, etc.)

    Hidetaka Miyazaki (Dark Souls)

  • bombcar 6 days ago

    Will Wright was up there, too.

    • muzani 6 days ago

      He doesn't have a great rep for some reason. His biggest hits - The Sims, SimCity, and Spore are all quite hated, but those games have a large following of players and creators who don't do any other games.

      So in a sense, there's someone out there who loves Spore but won't buy The Sims, because they don't need any other games.

      • kungito 5 days ago

        Hated? Wow. Pretty bold thing to say. I have a feeling that every boy gamer had a sister who played Sims on their pc back in the day. Sure, if you're identity is "hc gamer" you wont play "casual games" like Sims but I really feel like what Candy Crush is today, Sims used to be. Of course, the whole market was smaller then

        • muzani 5 days ago

          More in regards to the way The Sims handled expansions. With every sequel, all the expansions you bought were worthless. They're not cheap either; an expansion cost the price of an AAA game. With The Sims, EA popularized the model of selling incomplete games.

          I think the casual players are the ones who hated it the most, while those who played the Sims hardcore got the most out of their money.

          • TheCapeGreek 5 days ago

            Maybe I'm biased having grown up with the first 3 games and countless console spinoffs, but this only really became an issue with Sims 3 and especially with Sims 4.

            Sims 3 was ambitious in scope and kept adding more. It's unplayable if you actually own all the content. Maxis coded themselves into a performance hole and couldn't get out. It stuck to Sims 2's Expansion and Stuff packs formula, with lots of Store content that drove revenue.

            Sims 4 is much prettier but also dialed back. This lends well to what EA did by going even _deeper_ into the "spray and pray small amounts of content with huge prices" approach. It's no longer Expansion and Stuff packs with decent amounts of content, it's now various types that all have small-mid amounts for high prices: - Expansion Packs - Game Packs (mini expansions around one core concept) - Stuff Packs - Kits (mini stuff packs around one set of objects)

        • bombcar 4 days ago

          Part of it was "developer betrayal" - if you were a fan of the SimCity games, you might "eh" the Sims, but Spore was just not at all related (and overhyped, to be fair).

      • bombcar 5 days ago

        Yeah, he went across different types (they’re all roughly “simulators” but most games are) so it doesn’t have the same “this developer makes the same game over and over”.

  • hombre_fatal 6 days ago

    Not really a “they used to be” when you almost named all of them.

  • ethbr0 6 days ago

    + Brian Fargo

dleslie 6 days ago

In a name: John Romero

First off, I want to state that John is a wonderful human being and a great designer. He's a delight to talk with and the effort and outcomes he is responsible for is commendable.

In the early days of PC gaming lead designers were well known and often printed on the box of games; think Sid Meier, Chris Sawyer, Roberta Williams, Tim Schafer, hell even Derek Smart. It's my impression that this wasn't particularly true in consoles, or even on mac or amiga; save for some notable exceptions like Hideo Kojima and Shigeru Miyamoto.

But John Romero and Ion Storm are, I believe, the cause of the trend towards star designers being stopped dead in its tracks. John was hyped up as an absolute all-star designer, with the infamous "John Romero is going to make you his bitch" advertisement campaign for Daikatana; with the cost overruns, and the product's flop in the market, investors and publishers became exceedingly wary of tying their dollars and projects to the names of specific developers. They'd poured money into Ion Storm, and now Ion Storm's products were critically tainted by way of association with Romero. (A shame, because Anachronox is a rather nice game).

After that, it became difficult and a point of contract negotiation for contributing developers to _even have their names in the credits_. Publishers became so protective of their brands and their associations that they were deeply concerned about what developer names were tied to their products.

  • beeboop 6 days ago

    Having read Masters of Doom, it does seem that Romero was mostly a good designer for Carmack and that specific project, but not a world-class designer in the general sense. I don't say this to disparage him, I'm sure he's a great guy. Just the impression I've gotten.

    • 1123581321 4 days ago

      It wasn’t that Romero wasn’t a world-class designer, it’s that he was good at every part of making games, and he did a great job on a bunch of them, culminating in Doom, but the industry was turning into a place for larger teams and specialists insanely great at doing one thing for long hours (i.e. the Carmacks.) That’s according to the book, not necessarily real life, of course…

whywhywhywhy 6 days ago

Are you not familiar with Hideo Kojima?

It’s a bit of a joke now how many times his name appears before you play the game but he’s earned it because he’s an excellent director which makes very distinctive narratives, styles and snappy but deep gameplay.

  • dartharva 6 days ago

    Maybe a large part of his fame comes from the same fact that all of his games bombard you with his name before letting you play every time? There are probably a lot of excellent game directors with distinctive narratives and styles that nobody knows because they don't do this.

    • filoleg 6 days ago

      I honestly doubt that guess. Mostly because while his name is shown a bunch on the screen and in the trailers, his games are usually so long and full of dense content. Which usually means you only see his name in the beginning and the end.

      And he doesn't just bombard you with his own name. I remember playing Death Stranding, and every time a new character is introduced for the first time, in a cutscene, there is a movie-style text appearing with the character's name and their actor's name below, e.g. "Sam - Norman Reedus", in the same style as Kojima's own name. Except for him instead of character name + actor name, it is usually "Director - Kojima", then "Producer - Kojima", etc.

      Realistically though, his games aren't as mainstream these days, and I doubt that a giant chunk of modern gamers (in the 15 to 22 range) have played any of his games. Which makes me think it definitely isn't due to those "10-second bombardments of his name" at the beginning of his games.

      • dartharva 6 days ago

        Confession - I have only played MGS-V and Metal Gear Rising so maybe I can't say for all of his games, but as far as I can remember MGSV flashed his name at least five times on every load and every mission before it let me start anything.

        • throwaway743 6 days ago

          Dude, you played the worst two of the series. MGSV was incomplete and a "fuck you" to Konami at least in terms of story/incompleteness. Rising is more or less just a game with "Metal Gear" in the title and is pretty removed in terms of gameplay/narrative.

          You really need to play MGS1-4 to appreciate the story and gameplay, and to get a real sense of Kojima's brilliance. They're top notch all around, but definitely up there as one of the best stories ever told.

          Correction: Survive is the worst if you even want to consider it a MGS game

          • filoleg 5 days ago

            Rising is an amazing game, it is just a spin-off instead of being mainline. And it wasn't even made by Kojima's studio.

            Kojima's team was making an initial prototype, didn't like how it came out, and then handed it over to Platinum Games. PG completely reworked the entire thing, and imo it came out great.

            For the record, Platinum Games are known for amazing works like Bayonetta series, Nier: Automata, and plenty others. The founders of that studio were also heavy-hitters before forming the studio, with Hideki Kamiya being the director of Resident Evil 2, Devil May Cry (the original, not the reboot), Vietiful Joe, and Okami.

            P.S. Survive is by far the worst game and isn't even comparable to anything else. It was made after Kojima quit though, so it is difficult to even consider it a legitimate MGS game.

          • agent008t 5 days ago

            Also Policenauts and Snatcher. Amazing games by Kojima.

          • donkarma 6 days ago

            am i missing any disney+ shows for the metal gear cinematic universe?

        • whywhywhywhy 4 days ago

          >MGSV flashed his name at least five times on every load and every mission before it let me start anything

          It's meant to be like a tv series, just like how Game of Thrones or The Wire flashes the directors name before an episode.

          Just how MGS 3 was meant to be a James Bond style movie so starts with a female vocalist singing a overly passionate ballad. They're stylistic elements from cinema, and in that case TV he's bringing to gaming to set a tone.

        • jstarfish 6 days ago

          MGSV was designed for episodic release, and Kojima already LARPs as a film director, so the missions follow the presentation of a television episode-- hence opening credits every few minutes.

          Earlier games would just have cheeky references to himself here and there. Most obvious one I remember was Psycho Mantis' fight in MGS1 opening with him appearing to change your television input to one called "HIDEO" (instead of "VIDEO").

      • whywhywhywhy 4 days ago

        Death Stranding's casting in particular is interesting because it features his friends Guillermo del Toro and Nicolas Winding Refn in prominent roles, but just their body scans which are being puppeted and voiced by different performers.

        His justification being that he wanted them in the game but didn't want to take time away from their own works.

      • hammyhavoc 6 days ago

        MGSV shows you his name before every mission in the opening credits for it.

    • whywhywhywhy 4 days ago

      Name one.

      He fought his way to where he is in the late 80s, early 90s from nothing [1]

      The idea that you shouldn't be proud or shout about your achievements is a technique loser adults push on children to stunt their potential.

      [1]: https://i.redd.it/2p6oli8y8to31.jpg

brudgers 6 days ago

Because directors have a union...ok actually a guild.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Directors_Guild_of_America

Movie credits for normal Hollywood productions are all contractually specified in terms of listing order, inclusion, and technical aspects.

Non-Hollywood type productions can tend to follow the norm simply because it is the norm and probably because it is sort of what audiences expect and because the collaborative nature of movies means that bucking the system is likely to make people not want to work with/for you...who wants to argue with someone over whether to include the key-grip or if the screen writer should come before or after the supporting actors?

  • aasasd 6 days ago

    Eh, note how the public don't really know directors on producer-led films where the director is a hired hand, if they don't have a name already. Same on TV, where directors easily circulate each episode, and even famous ones disappear into the overall production. The credits don't do much in these cases.

    E.g. I know who Alfonso Cuarón is, but thankfully forgot who's the director on the extreme bore-fest of the first two Potter films and the other guy on the featureless last half-dozen films.

  • Bayart 6 days ago

    The entire studio culture that rationalized cinema as a production line for entertainment comes from Hollywood. "Authorism" has more to do with European cinema.

jccalhoun 6 days ago

Sometimes they are. Activision was created, at least in part, because Atari refused to give creators credit. EA originally featured the creators prominently https://www.gamedeveloper.com/business/we-see-farther---a-hi...

In the 90s there was, famously Daikatana's "John Romero is going to make you his bitch" ad. American McGee's Alice is another.

Currently, it seems like Japanese creators are the most known and in the West it seems more like studios are known. And in announcements they will use the creators and companies to get buzz.

However, that isn't really marketing. In film, for example, Nope was advertised as a Jordan Peele film. Most games aren't advertised that way. Games advertising seems to focus more on the new: new graphics, new play mechanics. This might be because film doesn't have the same visible advances year after year that games have. The visible differences between a 1980 and a 2020 game are much more obvious than a 1980 and 2020 film.

When it comes to smaller, more indie games, there are people like Johnathan Blow whose games get advertised as being "from the maker of..."

egypturnash 6 days ago

I think it may be worth looking into some film history: how did the director come to be the face of the movie in the first place, and the person whose creative vision is considered to be paramount, rather than an unremarkable administrator who simply got a bunch of people pointed in mostly the same direction for a while?

This is not at all my field so I can’t deliver an impromptu lecture on it; the back of my head is saying it largely changed in the US in the seventies, with a lot of influence from French New Wave films, which were very much seen to be strongly shaped by the director, rather than simply managed. I might be wrong here!

  • aasasd 6 days ago

    No, you're right. Early on, the producers were considered the most important people of the film. In the early-mid 50s, French critics and filmmakers came up with the idea of ‘auterism’, saying that directors can do their own material however they see fit, instead of only adapting screenplays. Specifically André Bazin and François Truffaut were the first in this, afaict. Fellini's ‘8½’ was important in that the director decided that since the last word is his, he might as well himself be the subject of the film.

    Hollywood was clued in on this in the 70s with the ‘New Hollywood’, and people like Coppola, Spielberg, Scorcese, etc. Notably though, ‘New Hollywood’ still was way more mainstream than French New Wave, IMO.

    • l33tbro 6 days ago

      What about Hitchcock? Lang? Sturges? Von Sternberg? Welles?

      Directors enjoyed top-billing prior to the articles and films by the Cahiers du Cinéma critics. While they made a huge contribution to the form of cinema, how many people really saw Breathless or read Hitchcock/Truffaut?

      New Hollywood was mostly egged on by whip-smart critics with a wide circulation like Andrew Sarris and Pauline Kael, who further elevated the director as artist in the public mind. The studios followed suit and thought they could make a buck with these prestige films, until there were too many self-indulgent flops.

      • aasasd 6 days ago

        > ‘Breathless’ opened in Paris ... not in an art house but at a chain of four commercial theaters, selling 259,046 tickets in four weeks. The eventual profit was substantial, rumored to be fifty times the investment. The film's success with the public corresponded to its generally ardent and astonished critical reception ... ‘Breathless’, as a result of its extraordinary and calculated congruence with the moment, and of the fusion of its attributes with the story of its production and with the public persona of its director, was singularly identified with the media responses it generated. (Richard Brody)

        • l33tbro 6 days ago

          Sure, but what is your point? I never said the early French New Wave films didn't do well in their native homeland.

          My point stands that there were 'name' directors that excited the public long before the auteur theory.

jjj123 6 days ago

What you’re describing is auteurism. I think there is plenty of this in games already but you’re right it’s not as prevalent or mainstream as film directors.

If it were to get more prevalent, it might open the door for more original or unique AAA games. Giving a single person full control of the vision of a game almost certainly makes for more idiosyncratic games than the design-by-commitee approach many AAA games take today. Think more God of War (2018)s or Death Strandings and fewer Far Cry 7s.

But in my opinion auteurism is unfair to the rest of the team. AAA games are a joint effort, a director may have a singular vision but there are thousands of decisions made by the rest of the team (not to mention the labor it takes to execute that vision) that all coalesce into the final product.

mysterydip 7 days ago

Because for many studios, the creative staff are cogs to be used for a game then dumped when it's over. Read "press reset" for many examples of this. They want you to stick with the publisher for sequels, not follow the developers as they go from studio to studio. There are exceptions to this (Kojima for one).

aasasd 6 days ago

Personally I think that individual game designers were important when the whole game could be made by like ten or twenty people. Remember that in the seventies and early eighties, literally a couple guys could slap together a game and sell it (which pretty much led to the crash of '83, since there was a lot of garbage). This changed a bit in the 90s, but still small teams did a lot until around mid-2000s when everyone flocked to larger publishers and got reshuffled into mostly nameless studios. Plus, games up to mid-2000s often explored new territory and invented new genres—in the 90s, many gamers knew who made the three outstanding games of the year. Whereas these days, new stuff appears maybe two or three times in a decade, and then gets flogged to death by dozens of copycats.

Perhaps today it's just meaningless to name one or two people who ‘design’ the game, when most of it is concepts borrowed from the common pool of the industry, and the content proper is made by twenty designers.

Indie games are where the individuals are now. Jonathan Blow, Zachtronics, Zach and Tarn Adams, Toby Fox, Emily Short, Jason Rohrer—these kind of guys. People still not just buy, but fund games by Ron Gilbert because it's his games.

  • hnfong 6 days ago

    But these days movies are made by teams of hundreds of people too.

    • aasasd 6 days ago

      A film director has control over the source material and the result (hopefully has, at least). Whereas I'm not sure that there's a single person with such responsibility in game dev: afaik someone like a director or a PM overlooks the development, but it's more just a management job like with film directors in the past or on TV. Game designers decide the mechanics, but don't control the team. I'm not really versed in the modern process of gamedev, but I haven't heard of such a central position—maybe other than Kojima and a couple other guys.

      Likewise, I think the role of a director is diluted in animation: it's hard to imagine one guy pestering main animators until they come up with a desired look—surely it's much more of a team effort. In the end, I think a cinema director chooses a room and a camera, and then shouts at the actors until they do as he envisions—it's glorified theater, after all. Whereas in games and animation much more of the result depends on the artists and programmers at each point: they have to prepare every single bit in advance for the player to experience, and the PM can't just tell the characters to act less stiffly in the next take.

      IMO about the same thing happens in software development in general: UX and UI designers are in large part responsible for how the product should feel to the user, but they almost never control the process—with just a couple exceptions that I know. And we usually don't hear about these designers, unless it's a statement of fashion.

mikhael28 6 days ago

'John Romero is about to make you his bitch'.

I also think that the massive failure of Daikatana helped people see that attaching your reputation to a game might not be the best idea.

reassembled 6 days ago

I feel like Iranian-American programmer Nasir Gebelli deserves a special mention here. His early Apple II and Atari 800 games were credited simply: NASIR. I remember playing Space Eggs on my Atari 800 as a kid and being mystified at this strange name at the bottom of the title screen.

But what he’s most known for is more or less single handedly carrying Squaresoft through their formative years. He was responsible for Rad Racer, Final Fantasy I-III, and Secret of Mana. Nasir was such a legend that Squaresoft flew him to Japan from the US to work on their games. At one point when his work visa expired, they flew the entire Squaresoft dev team back to Sacramento and completed FFIII in Nasir’s apartment.

oreally 6 days ago

Currently it's the press who coins the directors as auteurs, not the other way round. Eg. dark souls came before miyazaki. There are some exceptions like hideo kojima.

Also not all games are movies. Their iteration times seem far longer. And games/game designs can be worked on for so long it's natural you'd want to switch to something else.

Lastly, it is hard to quantify the contributions of one guy compared to the entire studio without access to sales. If one pushes his personal brand he'd have to step over a whole bunch of very qualified egos too. If it succeeds you'd end up with payscales that are out of whack similar to Hollywood, and it's not a pretty situation since part of your workforce can transition out of games.

spywaregorilla 7 days ago

I would suspect its influenced in large part by Japanese culture and norms set by people like Miyamoto.

PaulKeeble 6 days ago

There are a few exceptions, Sid Meier's for example has his name on a bunch of games as marketing. Tom Clancy was also attached to a bunch of military shooters for a while as well. Its used less currently than it was in the past but Studios and publishers as a whole do gain notoriety both good and bad and there is some discussion in gaming communities about certain individuals and their impact on games (these days often negatively).

  • positr0n 6 days ago

    Was Tom Clancy actually involved in the games at all?

    I always thought the studio just bought his name to use for branding after the first game was made after his book Rainbow Six.

  • eru 6 days ago

    > There are a few exceptions, Sid Meier's for example has his name on a bunch of games as marketing.

    Including quite a few he had no involvement with.

ehnto 6 days ago

I think the social dynamic isn't there, and the industry is still fairly young in comparison to movies. Games weren't traditionally that narrative based, and with a number of key disciplines standing entirely on their own to make up the game experience a game director isn't really as influential as a movie director. Some games don't even have a person you could point to and say that's the game director. The owner of a company hired a bunch of people to come together and make games, and they did it together.

To the various game director's credit, I'd also like to think it's a bit of humility baked into the game development community. I'm sure a game director can take a walk through their office, glance at any of the screens, from creative to technical, and think "oh yeah, these are the people making this thing happen". Game studios without a doubt have some of the most talented people in the world working for them. Making games is hard!

Rastonbury 7 days ago

There are a few, Hidetaka Miyazaki Souls and Sid Meier Civ

simne 5 days ago

They are. But similar to many cheap tv series, now most famous games created not by individuals, but by abstract teams.

Problem with individuals, they are hard to deal.

Individuals don't make sustained value; individuals could change mind and go downshifting.

In good team mean performance of member could be much lower than for individual, but unlike individual who impossible to replace, team could easy replace every member and continue delivery.

t-3 7 days ago

They are, to some degree (especially JRPGs), but narrative games haven't been really mainstream until relatively recently. We need a deeper cast of game directors to start glorifying them.

  • kaoD 6 days ago

    > narrative games haven't been really mainstream until relatively recently

    Interested in your take on this since my perspective is exactly the opposite.

    For me narrative games were part of the mainstream triad (arcade vs simulator vs narrative) in the 90s/early 00s until the open-world-sandbox sidequest-filled games took over the SP narrative-ish niche. Even before the 90s RPGs and IF (back then known as "text adventures") were all the rage in the non-console-gaming world (which was large, at least here in Europe).

    There's a reason Kojima is such a celebrity in the genre, and that's MGS1 (from 1998) which would probably go unnoticed nowadays.

    Now that I mention 1998 that was a huge year for narrative-driven games: Half-Life, Grim Fandango, Zelda: OOT, MGS1, Final Fantasy 7, Resident Evil 2... What a year!

    I'm no longer that into in SP games. Does your post imply the pendulum is changing directions? Can you recommend some titles?

    • t-3 6 days ago

      I'm not actually into gaming much anymore - my tastes trend towards traditional roguelikes, which are not very popular with modern gamers.

      The narrative games you mention are all great, but I think gaming at that time was still pretty niche and limited to middle/upper-class and geeks, just like home computers were. In my memory, vastly more people played arcade-style games and multiplayer games than RPGs.

      • kaoD 6 days ago

        Interesting, could that be a regional difference? Every single 90s kid owned a PS1 or N64 over here (western Europe) and MGS/FF7/Z:OOT were mandatory titles to own. PS1 was so easy to pirate that even lower-ish class could afford it.

        • t-3 6 days ago

          Could be, or maybe I just uncritically accepted my parent's reasoning for not having them? I don't remember many kids having consoles and remember those that had them used them as a status instrument, but I didn't have many friends either.

        • User23 6 days ago

          The early 90s cool kids in Germany all had Amiga 500s and the AD&D games Eye of Beholder and so on were very popular.

      • User23 6 days ago

        The NES changed that. Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy were quite popular.

        • t-3 6 days ago

          I wasn't even born when the NES came out. Maybe my perception is faulty, but video game consoles were the domain of "rich" kids when I was young.

          • User23 6 days ago

            It was the opposite in my experience. The upper middle class parents didn’t want their kids playing with “that trash.” So everyone would hang out at the welfare kid’s house because his mom got him the Nintendo.

    • User23 6 days ago

      A lot of people think Disco Elysium has a great story.

jshaqaw 6 days ago

A AAA game costs how much?

A corporation making that investment wants to own all of the brand IP it creates for that money. It isn’t looking to share that value with creators altruistically which would just give the creators more bargaining power next iteration.

Similar logic in movies. Studios want to own franchises like Marvel where the value is more in the studio owned brand IP than any specific actors or directors.

smugma 6 days ago

Jonathan Blow’s games are all distinctive. I’m not sure I’d call him a director. Auteur or programmer/m-director, maybe.

hgs3 6 days ago

I played through Clive Barker's Undying for the first time. I quite enjoyed it. I looked up the development of the game and it appears Clive's name wasn't attached to the project until latter in development. It was more of a marketing stunt than anything.

iamevn 6 days ago

Lots of comments saying this does in fact happen in videogames but I just also want to say that boardgames often are also marketed as the work of specific designers. I've got a whole James Earnest shelf dedicated to all things Cheapass.

z3phyr 6 days ago

Video games follow the software dev model. I mean most software that is packaged does not explicitly name the lead developer on title. There are exceptions like vim by B. Moolenaar.

mikhael28 6 days ago

Hollywood is a city of ego. Lots of have developers are too humble to insist on serving as the marketing vehicle for their work - they want the work to speak for itself.

hammyhavoc 6 days ago

There's plenty. Hideo Kojima for one. Read some interviews in the average game publication to figure out who the current public favorites are.

zelias 6 days ago

This only works when the director has solid name recognition, of which there are fewer examples in games.

Notable counter example is Hideo Kojima (check out MGS5 or Death Stranding)

valbaca 6 days ago

Hidetaka Miyazaki is a very famous director/designer/writer of the FromSoftware games (Elden Ring, Soulsborne games)

mr90210 7 days ago

Search for: Death Stranding Director’s cut

telchior 6 days ago

It's interesting that so many replies here point out John Romero. I wonder if it's a generational thing -- people old enough to remember the hype of Ion Storm, but not quite old enough to remember the period before that.

No, it wasn't John Romero's fault. Nor was it any single person or company; but it would be more accurate to say that Atari and Electronic Arts are responsible.

Atari didn't like to give credit to creators. Atari eventually blew itself up, but a lot of people remembered how wronged they felt by the company withholding credit.

Some of these people created, or were early hires, at Electronic Arts. Although EA was venture-funded, it was very idealistic in its early days. The "Arts" in the name was proposed initially as "Artists", but the company felt that naming itself in that way would suggest that the people running the company were the artists, thus stealing credits from the developers. So instead, they called the company "Arts" and promoted their developers as "artists". EA also experimented with a lot of artistic choices, like promoting developers in press tours, trying to innovate in their packaging, credit screens, etc.

Tl;dr: all of this stuff basically failed to impress the public and couldn't be correlated to any improvement in sales. People apparently just didn't care. The one success EA eventually had with name branding was Madden football... but John Madden was an aging football coach who barely knew where the "On" button was. Later Electronic Arts CEOs thus trashcanned the idea of promoting developers, although I believe the founder, Trip Hawkins, also spoke quite publicly about the idea as a failure. EA became the festering mudpit of middle management we all know it as today. That all happened by the late 1980s.

Id Software, the place that gave John Romero his rockstar image, came after all of that, founded in 1991. Ion Storm was founded in 1996. At the same time that Romero's reputation was tracing a parabolic arc, people like Sid Meier were showing that you actually could use a developers name successfully. Romero didn't scare away anyone from doing so. Rather, it was the experience of corporations trying to do the same that scared away other corporations, and Ion Storm's failure (having been funded by Eidos, I believe) was just one more bit of evidence on a pre-existing pile.

Is that evidence right? It seems to generally be true, in my opinion. Yes, you get the occasional extremely successful auteur like Meier or Kojima. But those aren't predictable or repeatable, and you also get people like Romero, or Will Wright, or Peter Molyneux, who hit a peak then completely bomb with insane or just flat out wrong decision making.

One of the other comments suggested that one more reason is the lack of a union for movie producers. I have my own pet theory, which is rather different:

Making games is much, much harder than making movies. Success is less repeatable, and we have far more people who hit a peak in one project then utterly fail in the next. I think a good piece of evidence for this is in who the successful auteurs are in gaming: they're people who make the same kinds of experiences over and over. Sid Meier not only built his brand on sequels of Civilization; he's also a bit of a management genius who found the right bright young minds to lead design on his sequels. Hideo Kojima, in the Metal Gear series, basically wrote an extremely long story punctuated by gameplay. Will Wright was actually successful for a long time with fairly similar simulation games, and only met his end as a popular designer when he bit off way more than he could chew with Spore. The more a producer or designer tries to innovate on subsequent projects, the more likely they are to fail -- and gaming is a far more innovation-driven industry than film.

The only outlier I can even think of, someone who makes vastly different games and succeeds almost all the time, is Shigeru Miyamoto. He's got the whole support structure of Nintendo behind him, which is really proof that maybe the original EA model could have worked; but Nintendo is, thus far, a unique existence that nobody else has replicated, and even haven't figured out how to churn out name-brand creators.