At the end of January, game publisher 3D Realms released Danish indie studio Interceptor Entertainment’s top-down action game Bombshell.
The title ended up getting very mixed reviews, ranging from lukewarm to downright “slaughter”; Bombshell currently has a score of 43 on Metacritic.
And here’s the official release trailer for the game:
Intrigued, we reached out to Interceptor Entertainment CEO Frederik Schreiber to learn how the studio has reacted to and handled the game’s mixed media reception:
“(Firstly) I’d like to make clear that a great many of the bug-related issues reported by these reviews were known issues that we were still in the process of fixing at the time we distributed review builds (of Bombshell) to the media. We advised reviewers that they were getting an advanced version of the game, and that that all known bugs would be fixed before the game went live for purchase.
(So) we were actually quite surprised that reviewers dinged us so hard for these bugs, because we had the vast majority of them fixed when (Bombshell) went on sale. Which isn’t the same as shipping a buggy game and then day-one patching it – the game we shipped didn’t have most of the bugs we got criticised for. In this sense, we learned a hard lesson: You can not let reviewers have a copy of the game until all the bugs are out,” says Schreiber.
We also sent Schreiber four quotes from four very different reviews of Bombshell and asked for his feedback on each one:
Schreiber: We have to (determine) what the intentions of the reviewer were (here). (Bombshell) is clearly not a 2 out of 10, being a competent shooter with high production value. 2/10’s are given to games that barely work or are actively trying to scam the customer. Clearly there’s something else causing the reviewer to give (the title) such a low rating. Either something personal, a biased opinion (he just doesn’t like this type of game) or misaligned expectations (3D Realms isn’t a big-budget publisher, and this was not a big-budget game). Reviewers have to be subjective regardless of what the game is really about, so we fully respect the score. But when even his own commenters leave snide remarks like “Van Ord strikes again!” it’s clear (that) this is sort of his “thing” and we shouldn’t get ourselves too down over it.
When analysing the full review, we managed to gather a few legitimate complaints about the game, which we went through in a post-mortem meeting and frankly agreed with. But again, they certainly don’t amount to a 2.
In terms of handling a review like this (with) the public, we decided to let the users themselves make-up their own (minds). There’s no reason to go to war with a reviewer – ultimately it’s just one man’s opinion. It’s pretty clear that (his) 2/10 score is not representative of (Bombshell), and we believe the users can clearly see that.
Frederik Schreiber, Interceptor Entertainment
Schreiber: Way more balanced and constructive. (This) review gave us good insight into actual issues with the game and what we could do as a studio to improve (Bombshell) overall. The score itself is what we hoped for. During development, we had rigorous QA evaluations of the game, and mock reviews all pointed towards a 7-8 out of 10 review score. (So) the issues pointed out in (this) review are legitimate and during our analysis of the review, we came up with some pretty good solutions.
Destructoid: “In addition to being boring, Bombshell is a bit broken. I fell through the level and died three times. Shelly got stuck in place on a couple occasions, necessitating a restart to accompany the countless times she hitched on the environment. Enemies get stuck too, or at least some choose to lay down arms and not attack until I kill them, anyway.” (Score: 2.5/10)
Schreiber: This is another review that baffles us. As previously stated, we were very transparent that during the week we allowed reviewers hands-on time, we were performing a “full and final collision pass” on the game. Many of the issues critiqued were things we acknowledged as “known issues” and were not major issues upon shipping.
The question we get a lot is: “Why show an unfinished game to reviewers in the first place?” It’s a little more complicated than that though. 3D Realms and Interceptor are at a humble new beginning, and do not have the kinds of marketing budgets that triple-A games do. We wanted to leverage press and “influencers” as extensively as possible with bringing an ambitious new title like this to market, so we could maximise our development budget. And in so doing, we made the wager that the media would be fair and kind to us with issues that we transparently disclosed up-front. And that by giving them the extra time to cover the game, we figured we would garner greater amounts of coverage than (if) had we waited to give them copies of the game day-and-date (of) release. After all, even (with) the (preview version) we showed them, it wasn’t like they were falling through the (game) world every five steps. It was maybe two or three times the entire play-through, easily avoided upon restarting a checkpoint.
It’s true that some reviewers might be thrown off by (the game’s) “90’s” attitude, cheesy dialogue and “Sarah Connor-ish” protagonist. But ultimately what we were hoping for from reviewers was an answer to the question: Is the game fun to play at its core, for what it’s intentionally looking to accomplish?
(So) the Destructoid piece is a subjective, but ultimately polarised review. There is not much constructive feedback, and unfortunately the review doesn’t help us much (in) trying to improve the game. Which I realise isn’t the purpose of games journalism, but (was) certainly the thing we (were) most focused on.
Schreiber: Another good example of properly introducing the readers to what the actual game is about. 6.9 is not a high score, but the content of the review is precise, descriptive, objective and open. The feedback and criticism is constructive – which helps us tremendously in improving the game, and improving ourselves as a young studio. It paints a very accurate picture of the review-copy of the game, which in my mind should be the primary goal of a review.
Bear in mind, IGN got the same build of the game as Destructoid or GameSpot. The IGN review also came as a surprise to us, due to their review of our previous game (Rise of the Triad, 2013) which IGN gave a very low score (4.3/10).
About Interceptor Entertainment
Interceptor Entertainment is an independent AAA game development studio founded in 2012 and based in Aalborg, Denmark. In 2013, Interceptor released the FPS Rise of the Triad, which won several awards and was on Steam’s “Top Selling” list for several weeks. Since then, Interceptor has been hard at work on Bombshell for Windows PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Learn more about the studio at interceptor-entertainment.com.