Reply To: Why was there never a third game?

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(re: re: Why was there never a third game?) Hmmm… the comment that there wasn’t a third Manhunter because of disagreements with me over the direction of the series surprises me. It may be true, but it’s the first I’ve heard it. I’d be curious to know what we were disagreeing on, if we were. I don’t remember any disagreement.
My recollection is of having tremendous respect for the Murray’s, and wishing we could work with them forever. I think they left for Broderbund primarily because Broderbund offered them a materially higher royalty than Sierra for Ancient Art of War. I remember being hurt by this because I had been involved at the beginning of Art of War, and always assumed we’d publish it – but that when we started discussing contract, we were beaten out by Broderbund.
Over the years I had a series of what I used to call “Kens Rules” that served me well. One of these was “I never want to win a bidding war.” As soon as it became obvious that the Murray’s wanted both Sierra and Broderbund to compete for the publishing rights, I walked from the deal. I loved the product, but rules are rules. I wished the Murray’s success, but did not enter the bidding.
Here’s the issue, and another “Ken Rule” – I always believe in playing poker with my cards face up. In most deals, if there were ongoing negotiations, the deal got worse for the other side, not better. I usually lead with my best offer. Sierra’s economics were no secret. I knew what percentage of revenue I could afford for product development, marketing, manufacturing, etc. I also knew what level of profits I needed. If there were a way that a product could fit Sierra’s business model, and succeed, that was awesome – but, if it didn’t, we were better off to pass.
There were some awesome products that I always regretted passing on. I believe that if I been a bit more willing to deal, we could have continued to publish Richard Garriot’s products (we published the original Ultima), we once were within inches of publishing Westwoods products (Command and Conquer) and I also believe that I could have done the deal to publish Doom. But, these are exceptions. Generally, I think we succeeded in a tough market, because we did deals that were profitable for both sides. Everyone won – authors, customers – and, Sierra.
-Ken W