According to ousted creative leads Jason Ward and Vince Zampella, Activision demanded that Infinity Ward produce another Modern Warfare game. Given eighteen months to work on a title they didn't want to do in the first place, they made Modern Warfare 2. That was supposed to be the full title until Activision forced Call of Duty onto the package to retain brand identity, despite Infinity Ward intending Modern Warfare to be a Spin-Off. Depending on whose story you choose to believe, Zampella and West apparently started talking to other game developers (which Activision frowned upon), which caused their dismissal, or they were held in their offices by security and interrogated (along with their colleagues) because of their refusal to follow Activision's demands. Whatever the case may be, roughly three-quarters of IW's staff left the company afterwards (including most of the creative and writing team behind the Modern Warfare series). Activision is currently farming Call of Duty out to other developers they own to pump out at least one more game a year. What Activision did to Ward and Zampella to thank them for making them the product that had the single biggest opening weekend of any entertainment product ever defines corrupt corporate executive. Activision later settled with the two developers out of court after numerous accounts of the developer's shady practices came to light - including a sting operation where a private investigator was hired to hack into their computers.
On a lighter note, the reason there hasn't been a Call of Duty movie yet is not because no studios want a go at it, but rather because Activision has shot down every offer.
Brütal Legend was affected by executive meddling quite badly. One of its publishers, Activision, attempted to turn the game into a Guitar Hero sequel, among other things. Brütal Legend was treated so badly by Activision that Double Fine claimed that Activision was purposely sabotaging the game in order to preserve its Guitar Hero franchise, which was on its way out of popularity (Activision, as a response, claimed it was axed because it was over budget and late with everything and what they had, wasn't very good). As a result of this, Tim Schafer estimated that the game was only one third as large as it was intended to be. Activision dropped Brütal Legend entirely, and was later being picked up by Electronic Arts. Naturally, they weren't completely done with some form of meddling after the move - see the EA folder for more.
The PlayStation game Spider-Man 2: Enter Electro had the final level originally take place on the top of the World Trade Center. This is confirmed by the original level title, "Top of the World", and dialogue spoken by Peter Parker during the original cinematic prior to the final level. After the events of 9/11, the game was pulled from shelves (it had been released in North America in late August) and delayed in territories where it hadn't been released, and the level designers placed a bridge between the two towers to make the comparison to its real life counterpart less obvious. Given the fact that Activision and Vicarious Visions feared the content might have been considered "insensitive", their meddling was obvious.
The behavior of Electronic Arts over the last two decades reads like a laundry list of what not to do as a video game publisher. Meddling in the affairs of studios it gobbled up in deals with parent companies, executive fiat in several notable franchises and a general lack of regard for anyone besides investors are just the tip of the iceberg. Even the mere mention of their name can act as a berserk button for well known developers.
Origin Systems (responsible for the Ultima and Wing Commander franchises) was acquired by the company in 1992. Five years later, the company became an online-only developer that shifted its focus to Ultima Online (to the point that the developers of the then-recently released Ultima IX: Ascension wrote a number of stealth insults into the game as a way to get back at EA for cutting corners, rushing the game for a holiday release and sidetracking the company). As a response to Ascension's poor retail performance, the company then cancelled all of Origin's planned projects (including the Ultima Online sequel, Privateer Online and Harry Potter Online). The final nail in the coffin was the development of Ultima X: Odyssey. EA forced relocation of development from Austin, Texas to California, leaving developers who couldn't make the move due to family issues out of work. This subsequently led to the project being scrapped altogether. The Origin trademark was later reintroduced as a digital distribution platform that has been cited as dumping malware onto the computers of millions of users (and infringing upon consumer rights in several countries).
Westwood Studios was acquired by EA in 1998, which subsequently resulted in at least half of the studio's employees quitting in protest. EA's increased control resulted in restrictive demands on many of the team's projects, and led to rushed and unfinished games, including:
Nox (a project three years in the making), which was intended to be a multiplayer fantasy battle game that was taken over by EA and turned into a single player RPG. Despite the game's good reception, the company lost the IP rights to EA, who immediately shut down the game's servers and cancelled plans for an expansion and sequel.
The Command & Conquer franchise, which was inexplicably turned into a first-person shooter in 2002's Command & Conquer: Renegade, over the objections of its development staff. The game subsequently missed several shipping dates and was criticized for straying from the series' strategy roots - and when it didn't sell as well as expected, EA promptly shifted all the blame on Westwood and liquidated the company entirely.
Tiberium was to be the second FPS set in the C&C universe. It had a solid, original concept at its heart: you play as a GDI Forward Battle Commander, actively leading your AI-controlled troops from the front lines. It had a terrific art style; everything in the game world had a realistic, hard sci-fi look to it. It had the fans of the series salivating with anticipation... and then was suddenly canceled with no reasoning cited other than "failing to meet quality standards." Shortly after the game's cancellation, several disillusioned developers of the game began posting on Gamasutra, and from these testimonies comes a rather depressing tale. It seems that the project was doomed by its leadership, or lack thereof. According to the posters at Gamasutra, many of the lead producers (and there were apparently several) were less experienced than many of their subordinates and were only recently promoted to their positions. There was much jockeying for power, with each producer trying to outdo or replace the work done by their predecessors (including gutting the FPS/RTS mechanic at its core). At least one poster claims these managers were actively trying to sabotage the project and thus save face rather than have a broken game released with their names attached. Even if only half of it is true, it's a fact that this game was in development for a good 5 years, got nowhere, and no one seemed to want to save it.
Tiberium Twilight was also a huge victim. The game originally started out as a multiplayer-only project, meant for quick, direct matches in cybercafes and for tournaments. It would be set in the Tiberium universe, but the mechanics were revamped for its short-match multiplayer focus, and to be fair, they were good mechanics for the kind of gameplay they were going for. However, executives wanted them to shift the product and expand it into a full, story-integrated sequel to Tiberium Wars. Its progression system was ill-balanced for campaign play, and its mechanics did not give players the kind of single-player mission experience consistent with earlier titles in the series. This ended up giving it a Metacritic score of 64, which under the Four Point Scale is one of the lowest a major game can expect to get. The average user review was several times worse than that.
Thrill Kill winded up a victim of EA's wrath in 1998. Virgin Interactive was set to release the game in the summer of that year, even after having to make some edits to tone down some of the game's content for an M rating by the ESRB. However, when Virgin was acquired by EA, the latter cancelled Thrill Kill a few weeks before its official release date because they didn't want to be associated with a "senselessly violent game". EA didn't even bother selling the rights of the game off to another publisher. Fortunately, they did allow the developers to keep the engine, which was used to create Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style.
As mentioned in the Activision folder, EA acquired the rights to Brütal Legend after Activision dropped the title. EA didn't meddle with the game development like Activision did, but they only advertised the game's action elements, completely obscuring the RTS elements that make up the core of the game's mechanics, leading to the game receiving some undeserved criticism. Then came the patch Double Fine was going to release for the PlayStation 3 version, which would fix the muffled sound effects and the 99% completion glitch, but because EA only likes to support games that sold well, they would not let DF release the patch whatsoever, even though the patch was finished.
Executive meddling was also the reason the game did not get a PC port until early 2013. Schafer originally made the game for consoles in mind, but was willing to port it to PC. EA, however, would not allow this due to poor sales. It wasn't until EA dropped all publishing rights to the title that DF was finally allowed to port it to PC.
Several of Bullfrog Productions' (led by Peter Molyneux) games were rushed to stores in an unfinished state by EA in order to meet the season, including Magic Carpet, which went to stores over Molyneux's repeated objections that the game wasn't finished yet.
Maxis was bought by EA in 1997, and the publisher slowly exerted control over the developer in the ensuing years. It has been said that the company was only saved from being destroyed outright by the success of SimCity 3000 (which was expected to be a flop). The company subsequently had its offices shut and its employees moved to EA's offices, where they commenced work on The Sims, which (as even the Wikipedia article for the company says) had its company logo superceded by EA's as more expansions and DLC packs (mandated by the publisher) were released.
EA put the restrictive Securom DRM on all retail copies of Spore (which had a maximum number of "activations" and a litany of security holes) against creator Will Wright's wishes. The game was subsequently pirated more than 500,000 times in protest after advance copies leaked, and it became one of the most pirated games in history.
The development team for The Sims 2 complained about how EA executives pressured the team to use more particle effects in the game so they could put that as a bullet point on the box. So, we got people walking around with green smoke coming out of their arms when low on hygiene, green smoke coming out of food that had gone bad, and so forth. Unrealistic it may be, it at least came in handy as a visual aid. Ironically, many users also found such effects "annoying", and there are multiple user-made hacks available to eliminate them.
The "always-on" internet connectivity required to play the 2013 relaunch of SimCity was thrown into the game by EA to force players to stay online, despite company representatives claiming otherwise. This connectivity issue led to a truly disasterous launch for the game - many review outlets and fans were unable to play during launch week, Amazon temporarily suspended sales of the game, and EA ended up issuing a patch that cut core features like achievements and the "fast-forward mode" to decrease the pressure on their servers. It is also believed that the debacle, in part, led to EA CEO John Riccitello resigning from the company in March 2013.
In 2004, the publisher was sued in two separate class-action lawsuits by designers and employees in the parent company who alleged that they were forced to work extremely long hours without overtime benefits. This resulted in a $30 million-plus judgement against EA.
After the success of Dragon Age: Origins, EA pushed BioWare to release Dragon Age II much sooner than the game's development team expected, in order to capitalize on its predecessor's success. The game's composer, Inon Zur, later admitted in an interview that the score was a rush job and that the game was pushed hard for a March 2011 release, while BioWare lead designer Brent Knowles (who had been with the company for over a decade) quit the company over the decision to rush development. There have also been rumors that the game was released in an "alpha" version, and that the game was a standalone title for a completely different concept that was repurposed as the sequel due to production problems. Later on, a planned expansion pack for the sequel (that apparently resolved the story arc set up by the game itself) was cancelled unceremoniously.
According to since-deleted forum posts on the Penny Arcade forums posted by the account of Patrick Weekes (writer of the Tuchanka arc and Blasto trailers), executive producer Casey Hudson and lead writer Mac Walters went behind the writing team's back and rewrote the controversial ending of the game by themselves.
The lead writer of the first two games in the series (Drew Karpyshyn) was reassigned to another BioWare project (Star Wars: The Old Republic), during development of the third game. This led to an original major plot point (about dark energy) being dropped and eventually replaced with the more controversial one.
Then there's Star Wars: The Old Republic, which itself was targeted for a March 2012 release and instead got forced out the door early in December 2011. Predictably, the chief complaint was the lack of end game content for the MMO.
Suda 51 and Shinji Mikami went to EA to work on Suda's game idea, Kurayami, an adventure game based on the works of Franz Kafka. EA agreed to produce the game, but then they decided that Suda's proposal wasn't profitable enough by itself, so they had their own people to retool Kurayami into a horror-themed third-person shooter that barely resembled what Suda had in mind. The resulting product, Shadows of the Damned, ended up being disowned by Suda, not to mention selling terribly thanks to EA refusing to actually market it.
When online gaming was starting to pick up in the early 2000s, Sony jumped on board a bit later with Final Fantasy XI which made the PlayStation 2 the first console for Sony to have online capabilities. The Dreamcast and the Xbox incorporated online gaming long before Sony. The Nintendo GameCube was designed for online play, but very few games were made with this feature in mind and Nintendo had openly stated that they thought that online gaming would be just a passing fad. This resulted in the GameCube having an Internet connection that would never be used except for as LAN in a couple games.
The Wii was originally going to have the controllers built with a more complex and accurate motion sensor, but Nintendo ordered that they be simplified to make the controllers cheaper. They would eventually release an add-on that restored the original capabilities during the console's final years.
Star Fox Adventures is the result of this. Originally, the game was to be called Dinosaur Planet and had no ties whatsoever with the Star Fox franchise. Krystal and a male fox were the main characters. But since Nintendo was behind schedule with a Star Fox sequel, they forced Rare into changing the plot and characters around. The male fox was axed, Krystal was aged up and became the Distressed Damsel, and Fox McCloud became the hero of a game that had little to do with what he does best: flying around in space and blasting bad guys. Suffice to say, many fans of the franchise still hate this game, even though it's not a bad game per se. But the meddling didn't stop at the concept phase. A rushed release date caused what could have been a climactic boss fight with General Scales to be completely cut. But the cut is extremely unnatural and jarring: the fight actually has its own arena and intro cinematic, and the fight itself actually lasts a second or two before it gets called off, and the player is left confused and wanting.
The notorious The Legend of Zelda CDi Games and Hotel Mario games on the Phillips CD-i system were a result of several years' worth of executive meddling. During the early '90s, just as NEC and Sega were coming out with CD-ROM add-ons for their consoles, Nintendo decided to develop one for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System with Sony, one that would be able to play new, 32-bit CD-based games in addition to the original SNES library. A while into their co-operation, however, Nintendo realized that letting just anyone develop games for the CD add-on meant that Nintendo would lose their absolute control over the games released on their systems (and more importantly, they realized the contract with Sony contained a clause that Sony would own the rights to all games developed on their add-on). Nintendo decided to give Sony the cold shoulder and, completely by surprise, announced that they were going to work with Phillips on the CD add-on from there on. Nintendo's CD add-on never saw the light of day, and to compensate Phillips for their hard work, they gave them the right to publish four games based on Nintendo characters for the CD-i. The worst part for Nintendo? Sony continued the project by themselves, creating the PlayStation. This would put Nintendo into a slump from which they wouldn't completely recover from until the Wii was released.
Both this specific event and executive meddling in general had everything to do with Square's falling out with Nintendo, as well. Square was a huge supporter of the CD peripheral, as they had plans to use it, and loudly criticized Nintendo's decision to drop the project. As a result, Nintendo punished Square by refusing to allow expanded ROM sizes for some of their ambitious projects late in the Super Famicom's life cycle, like Bahamut Lagoon and Rudra No Hihou. Furthermore, Nintendo was convinced that disc-based game systems were a fad, since the SNES did better than its competitors without one, leading to their next game console, the Nintendo 64, being cartridge-based as well. Square quickly realized that the N64 and its cartridges weren't capable of running the games they wanted to make, so they decided to develop games for the PlayStation instead.
Super Mario Bros. 2 came into being because Nintendo of America didn't think the original Japanese game of that title was different enough from the first one as well as considering it too hard for American audiences. But the result paid off, with the game selling very well and many foreign elements, such as Shy-Guys, Bob-Ombs and Birdo, all originally SMB2-specific characters, have since become staples of the Marioverse ensemble. Also, The Lost Levels got a Western release some years later anyway.
Nintendo of America in the early '90s with their heavy censorship. For example, the original North American release of Final Fantasy IV had several important scenes inexplicably removed, a falling blade trap changed to a falling metal ball trap (apparently it's ok to get squished to death, but not sliced in half); Final Fantasy VI had a couple of female summoned creatures' sprites altered to show less skin, and both games had religious references removed (changing "Holy" to "Pearl", etc.). In fact, the latter happened with everything Nintendo of America touched in that time period.
Mortal Kombat received a neutering from Nintendo of America as well. The SNES version of Mortal Kombat had the blood changed to sweat, and the fatalities were severely weakened (in one example, Johnny Cage punches his opponent's head off in the original version; in the SNES version, he delivers a hefty kick to the chest). The Sega Genesis port was technically inferior, but ended up being the most popular because it contained all the gore that made the game popular in the first place. Realizing this, Nintendo of America released Mortal Kombat II on the SNES in all its gory glory.
Just to show how times have changed, when Nintendo edited out MK's gore factor, they got a ton of angry letters not only from fans of the game, but their parents, decrying them for assuming the role of Moral Guardians.
Originally, the premise of the N64 Conker game was supposed to be vastly different: playing out to be like a more childish Banjo-Kazooie, or in-series, Conker's Pocket Tales. However, the executives at Rare started to become fearful that fans may not like the platformer because it was too childish, and after a very negative critique during the testing stages, Rare retooled the game, causing it to be aimed at a more mature crowd, including sex references, alcoholic beverages, and lewd behavior - which resulted in poor sales. This was not at all helped by Nintendo of America's response to the change, either, refusing to advertise it (outside of men's magazines) and outright refusing to let Nintendo Power even admit the game existed.
Originally, the "It's War!" chapter was to feature a scene where a captured soldier would appear going through live surgery at the hands of the Tediz, akin to the human experimentation performed by the Germans and Japanese during WW2. Nintendo themselves stepped in and requested that this scene be taken out upon finding out about it, as they apparently felt it was too grim even by the game's standards (on a lesser note, a brief Take That at the Pokémon series was also removed, although the Pikachu tail used therein remains in the code).
He did it again with Paper Mario: Sticker Star, saying a story wasn't needed (even though the RPG games have always been more story-based than the platformers) and requesting that they only use existing Mario characters rather than coming up with new ones. He also felt the game played too much like Thousand Year Door, which led to the battle system being completely revamped. Unfortunately, after the base breakingSuper Paper Mario, many fans were hoping for a game that returned to the style of the first two games, so Sticker Star was met with cries of They Changed It, Now It Sucks.
Even the The Legend of Zelda series has been a victim of Miyamoto's story-phobia. From Ocarina of Time on, the developers have tried to include more complex and detailed stories in Zelda games, only to be forced to backpedal and simplify the plot, even excluding major plot points (the whole point of the story of Four Swords Adventures was being the backstory of A Link to the Past, an idea that had to be scrapped, with the final product taking place sometime after Twilight Princess in the games' timeline (in the Child Link timeline branch) and having nothing to do with A Link to the Past (which is in a completely different timeline branch)), which caused the series to have an even more convoluted timeline. Link's Crossbow Training is probably the most tragic example: the developers wanted to produce a full-fledged, epic Zelda game that would be to Twilight Princess what Majora's Mask is to Ocarina of Time, but Miyamoto forbid them from including an epic story, or a story of any sorts, bosses (sans a single one that the developers were allowed to put in after fighting for it), or large and immersive stages. This resulted in what's widely considered to be the weakest installment in the series (not counting the licensed CD-i games) by both fans and critics alike.
The original Legend of Zelda was supposed to feature a dual sci-fi/fantasy setting, where you would time travel between a technological future and a magical medieval past, and the Triforce were electronic chips that would form a supercomputer. Nintendo thought this was too complex for an 8-bit Famicom title, so they axed the concept in favor of a simple fantasy setting. A Link to the Past also was originally going to feature this setting, but Nintendo again axed it in favor of the Light World/Dark World mechanic the game has instead. Miyamoto in fact lamented in an interview in the Japanese ALTTP strategy guide that Zelda was forced to have a purely fantasy setting, thinking it was hindering the franchise. Nintendo also axed his plans to have multiple playable characters in ALTTP.
The NES version of Maniac Mansion went through a number of changes at the request of Nintendo of America. To mention a few: A statue of a classical reclining nude was removed, because hey, no nudity allowed in Nintendo games. A scrawling on a wall says "For a good time" followed by a name and a phone number. NoA felt that was offensive... somehow. Their objection was specifically that it was offensive, not that it had sexual connotations. The end credits of the game originally mentioned "NES SCUMM system", which stands for the NES version of Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion, the game engine that LucasArts used for their adventures. Apparently the people at NoA felt this could be understood as calling the NES "scum", so that was also removed. As for what got into the finished product... Either they did not care or somehow completely missed the fact that in the game you can kill a pet hamster with a microwave oven. If you want more details, the person who headed the porting on LucasArts side has written an article about it titled The Expurgation of Maniac Mansion.
This was what killed the Clayfighter series. Clayfighter 63 1/3 had a long and troubled development history, with the biggest issue being an abrupt porting from the Vapor Ware M2 gaming system to the Nintendo 64. Since the N64's cartridge limitations couldn't handle fluid 2D animation very well (mind you, this is when an N64 cartridge was typically only 64 or 96 Megs), many corners were cut: the animation was stripped down, many of the game's planned fighters were cut from the final game, etc. Plus, Interplay was rushed to get the game out in time for the 1997 holiday season, resulting in a clearly unfinished game with numerous glitches and undercooked gameplay mechanics. Meanwhile, the PlayStation was supposed to have its own Clayfighter game called Clayfighter X-Treme, but it was scrapped at the last minute for being behind schedule. The Clayfighter 63 1/3 debacle was so bad that, about six months later, Interplay released a rental-only update titled Clayfighter: Sculptor's Cut that addressed some of 63 1/3's problems but wasn't enough to save the series from becoming the laughingstock of the fighting game genre (and not in the way Interplay intended).
Yoshio Sakamoto, co-creator of Metroid, was responsible for a good deal of meddling when developing Metroid: Other M. He demanded complete creative control over the project, hiring Team Ninja to put the game together only because his own team at Nintendo did not have the capacity to develop it. The Wii Remote-only scheme was not only his idea, but he actively insisted that this scheme was to be used exclusively, which was frequently questioned by Team Ninja employees who wanted a Nunchuk. He even noticed problems with the control scheme, but kept it anyway. There was also one part where he forced the composer to make a piano piece in a matter of a day. He was also responsible for the American localization, directing the voice actors despite not being a native English speaker. It's been said that Jennifer Hale, who provided the voice of Samus in the Metroid Prime series, auditioned to reprise her role in this game, but Sakamoto chose Jessica Martin, who had never done any voice acting for a video game before, over her. And even then, Martin's famously unemotive performance was the result not of her lack of talent, but of his insistence that she deliver the lines in a repressed way.
The Sega Saturn was plagued with executive meddling that in the end, majorly screwed the console over outside Japan and was a major player to Sega leaving the console business. The most infamous example of executive meddling in all of video game history was the botched surprise launch date for North America, moving the Sega Saturn's original release date from September 9, 1995 in North America (dubbed as "Saturnday") to May 11, 1995, announcing the switch that very day at their E3 1995 conference. This heavily backfired on Sega for several reasons, and played a giant role in the failure of the Saturn.
Because of the above lack of available third-party software and in addition to that a lack of imported Japanese games, only six titles (all of them first-party titles) were available at launch as a result.
This was the reason Sonic the Hedgehog was made. The executives understood that Mario became one of the video game characters with which video games would become associated. In the hope of having their own Mario, Sega decided to hold an internal design contest to see if there was a character they could use as someone to compete with Mario. In the end, the creator of Phantasy Star, Yuji Naka, won the contest and begun developing his project into what later would become Sonic the Hedgehog as we know him now. This is also the reason why the franchise had so many characters. There were many mascots to choose from and Sega gave some of them appearances in the series because they thought they were good enough for that. Just not good enough for their own game.
Sonic X-treme is notorious for its executive meddling. First, the main game and boss levels were broken up and given to two different teams, which ended up building them into essentially two completely different games. Then, when Sega of Japan came over to check up on the progress, they loved the engine for the boss levels so much, they demanded that the entire game be made with it, even though the team was dangerously close to deadline and short on men due to arguments about the game's direction. The engine for the main levels (which Sega of Japan went to see first) was scrapped completely because they hated it, despite the team telling them what they saw was an outdated version of the engine and the latest version of the engine was almost done being polished for the presentation. As a last resort, the team making the boss levels, after being shown a demo of the then-in production NiGHTS into Dreams... game, requested for the engine NiGHTS ran on so they could use it for X-treme and finish the game in time for the deadline. Sega complied...only to take the engine back a couple of weeks later because they didn't ask NiGHTS/Sonic creator Yuji Naka for the engine first, who upon learning about it threatened to quit Sega on grounds of plagiarism if the X-treme development team continued to use the NiGHTS engine. It finally took the game's director coming down with pneumonia before the plug was finally pulled.
Sega replaced the voice cast of the Sonic games with their Sonic X counterparts without telling the original cast. Reportedly, Sonic's original voice actor Ryan Drummond actually had to call Sega to find out when he needed to be back in for recording for Shadow the Hedgehog before he found out about the switch.
It was a bit more awkward for Shadow's original voice actor, David Humphrey, who actually flew to Los Angeles with the intention of recording the game, only to discover he had been replaced when he showed up at the studio.
Sonic 06 was originally going to be released on the Wii as well, with Sega expecting the Wii to be on par with the PS3 and Xbox 360 in terms of technology. But when Sega learned about the Wii's limitations compared to the other two consoles and the Wii Remote controller, they instead decided to make an original title for the Wii based on the Wii controller's capabilities. This resulted in Sonic Team being split up in two groups, with the newly formed group starting work on what would become Sonic and the Secret Rings and the other group continuing work on Sonic 06. So Sonic 06 and Xtreme also shared the same team management problem in a sense-though at least in X-treme's case, the two teams were still working on the same project from the start-Sonic 06 saw half of it's development team yanked from the project well into the game's development.
It has been rumored that Sony and Microsoft were pressuring Sega to get the game done by the holiday season and in order to comply with their demands; Sega had to develop both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions at the same time. On the other hand, there are also reports that Sega/Sonic Team ignored the Quality Assurance team's reports about the technical problems of the game so they can get the game finished on time, at least one report claims the QA team was actually fired prior to the game's release.
And then there's the NiGHTS sequel NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams, which Sonic Team originally wanted to develop on the Xbox 360, until Sega came butting in and decided that the game would be shoehorned onto the Wii with its brand-new motion controls.
It would've gone on Wii anyway if Yuji Naka was still at Sonic Team; he's gone on record saying that the Wii is the perfect platform for NiGHTS. The IR pointer would've been perfect had it not been implemented so bizarrely.
Streets of Rage 3 had many changes applied in the North American and PAL versions. The game's story was changed to the point where it made little sense; the Japanese version had the story involve Mr. X's henchmen planting nuclear bombs throughout the city and then capturing a general while replacing him with a robot duplicate in order to initiate a war between the United States and a fictional country. Level 7 on the bad ending route takes place at the White House. Sega of America and Europe decided that the story wasn't in good taste, so they changed the story to have Mr. X planting bombs throughout the city in an attempt to take over and captured the Chief of Police to while replacing him with a robot copy in order to further the agenda. The White House backdrop in Level 7 is still there, but now the sign says City Hall, despite the fact that the background is clearly the White House. Some of the dialogue was changed as well, but it also created inconsistencies and plotholes. One example of this is at the end of the first level where Blaze hints towards the group that she knows where to go next, but doesn't say what gives her that intuition. The Japanese version explained the party's path choice much better. On top of all this, the color palettes for Axel, Blaze, and Skate got changed overseas in order for the characters' clothing to look more "gender neutral", which makes little sense to begin with considering the characters had their color schemes in every appearance before the game.
Miniboss Ash was also cut out from the game and was replaced with The Dragon from the previous game (who also reappears as a boss later) due to Ash's character being a gay stereotype (though a positive of this decision was that the secret that the first boss was playable after beating him was retained). The female mooks in the Japanese version wore revealing clothing, but their sprites were edited overseas to cover them up. Many fans consider the Japanese version of the game to be the superior version due to the story making more sense and having less content cut or censored.
Do you know why the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive port of Street Fighter II' Turbo is called Street Fighter II: Special Championship Edition, and has different box art too? It's because of the famous Nintendo and Sega rivalry that was going on back then. Nintendo ordered Capcom to name both versions differently (and give them different box art) so that gamers would think Turbo was the superior game and buy that one instead, even though they're both the same game.
The above Sonic-based examples are becoming just the tip of the iceberg, for those in North America and Europe: the recent (as of Jan 2010) cancellation of Phantasy Star Universe for the PC and PS2 is one of the many nails in the coffin for fans of the series. Sega cited the lack of subscribers... after the PSU team did everything possible to ensure that the developers outside of Japan received no support, no updates, and so on...even their paychecks would likely have been slashed, if it were legal. This is similar to the PSO: Blue Burst closings two or three years prior, too...
For an example of how bad this got: first off, "adding new content" for the North American/international server was months behind the Japanese server... when all of the content already existed on the game's disk. Secondly, Sega of Japan had to approve every thing Sega of America did with the server, including vital technical fixes. When the billing server went haywire in the middle of a major, limited-time event and started locking players out, Sega of America immediately put out a notice saying "don't worry, we'll fix the billing server and extend the event to make up for it!" because they'd get quick permission to fix such a huge issue, right? Wrong. Due to SoJ taking their time giving SoA the thumbs-up to take action, about a month went by (and the event ended) before fixing even began, and the fix was "just turn the billing server off and let anyone play for free." Only months later was the billing issue truly fixed and the promo event re-run so finally everyone got to play.
Fans of the Streets of Rage series got together to create a remake that would faithfully include characters and elements from all three games, along with new gameplay concepts. The project started in 2003 and was finally finished in April 2011, eight years later. During development, the developers supposedly contacted Sega about the project and were given the green light to proceed since the game wasn't being made for a profit. Days after the final version was released, Sega ordered a cease and desist on the developers, forcing them to yank the download link off their site. This mirrors a similar case years back where Square Enix issued a cease and desist to a fan who finished developing a remake of Chrono Trigger. Luckily, fans who had downloaded the Streets of Rage remake have uploaded the game to various sites for all to obtain.
It is widely believed that Sony Computer Entertainment America had a policy of rejecting licenses for 2D-based titles on grounds of "low quality", as the head executive there wanted only 3D titles. This was, in fact, the case in the PS1 era, and is part of the reason that Capcom made Mega Man Legends; Sony would only let them make the 2D Mega Man games they wanted if they made a 3D installment.
In addition to the "3D titles only" rule, Sony also has a standing rule that requires all games released in North America to have an English voice track. Because of this, many popular low-budget games like half the Super Robot Wars franchise will never see the light of day in North America. Sony seems to have lightened up on this though, with Yakuza 2 being in Japanese with subtitles, and no English voice work in sight.
SCEA had this policy due to the antics of Bernie Stolar, a colossal jackass who refused to publish Japanese RPGs at all until Final Fantasy VII came out and made a lot of money. Then he was fired and went to Sega, and we know how well that turned out (see the above Sega folder).
Sony's stance on 2D games changed (though not fully) when Capcom threatened to not release Resident Evil 2 to the PlayStation if Sony didn't allow them to release a 2D Mega Man game on the console.
The anti-2D policy is still in slight effect to this day. Not as bad as it was in the 1990s, but Sony will still implement it time to time. Rumor has it that this is one of the reasons the Xbox Live ports of Garou: Mark of the Wolves, The King of Fighters '98: Ultimate Match, The King of Fighters 2002: Ultimate Match and SNK's other 2D fighters never made it to the PS3.
When Factor 5 developed their PS3 launch title Lair, just before release, it was mandated that since the PS3's Sixaxis controller had motion controls, they therefore had to be shoehorned into the game at all costs. This resulted in a near-uncontrollable game which, by the time the option to use the actual controller part of the controller was given to players, had already done all the damage it needed to do.
Something similar happened to Warhawk on the PS3. Motion control was forced in at the last minute which resulted in an embarrassing showing at E3 for an otherwise very good game. According to this article, it was the moment that Shuhei Yoshida, now President of Sony's Worldwide Studios, realized that things needed to change.
When Sony announced trophy support for the PS3, there were cries that they'd be just like achievements. Not so, cried Sony: trophies were entirely optional for the developer. Fast forward to 2009, and trophies are now required in all new PS3 games. Although they lack gamer points (trophies are instead merely ranked as Bronze, Silver or Gold depending on difficulty in obtaining them), games that are released on the Xbox 360 and PS3 at the same time (or on the Xbox first) are exactly the same, requirements and all. PS3 versions tend to have a "Complete all achievements" achievement that the 360 versions lack due to the way they work.
For those of you wondering how bad this is, there is a full English version of the game, but it was released only in Europe.
Meta example: when the Sony PSP's firmware updated to 6.31, all instances of the PSP Action Replay vanished, it was removed from its homepage, and the AR devices themselves have been pulled from every distributor (such as GameStop) that had supplied them.
BMX XXX was originally intended to be the third game in the Dave Mirra BMX series, until Acclaim decided to go risque and controversial by adding nudity and crude sexual humor, which instantly put Mirra off of the project. He demanded that his name not be used to advertise the game. Acclaim did it anyway, and was forced to stop via a court order. Just to add insult to injury, Toys 'R Us and Wal-Mart refused to carry it. The poor sales of BMX XXX contributed hugely to Acclaim's bankruptcy.
There've been way too many movie-based games reduced in quality due to a rush to release them in synch with the release of the actual movie, and video games in general being rushed to meet the holiday shopping crunch. The most memorable has to be ET The Extra Terrestrial, whose final fate in a New Mexico landfill and subsequent contribution to The Great Video Game Crash of 1983 resulted from such a push. To be fair, they also produced several times too many cartridges even for a successful game. They thought the game would help sell more consoles, but that's still stupid, even if the game ended up being as amazing as Super Mario Bros. 3, no way it would push that many consoles out of shelves.
Mega Man X had its share of meddling. First, Keiji Inafune was forced to redesign the character of X because it was feared the drastic changes to the original Mega Man's looks would prevent fans from relating to him (the original concept would later evolve into Zero), and then the series was continued beyond X5, which Inafune had intended to be the definitive end to the X series, causing a bunch of irreconcilable plot holes as a result.
The villain of the first Zero game was supposed to be the real X. Meddling forced the change to Copy-X.
Than again, it's said Inafune originally planned to use the Zero series to explore Zero's past, using X5 to introduce the idea, and was forced to ditch that.
All this is believed to be the reason why Inafune quit Capcom upon Mega Man Legends 3's announcement. Which was cancelled due to executive meddling too.
The end result from Inherit the Earth was defined by executive meddling. Originally intended to be a mature game, the publishers saw that the main character was a fox and forced the developers to cater to the 8-12 market at every turn (Because every Funny Animal story is kid-friendly, right?). Then they refused to let the developers create a sequel.
The story goes that one of the designers of Full Throttle—a game about a biker who kicked the crap out of people and was investigating the brutal bludgeoning murder of an old man by a ruthless corrupt corporate executive who had also ordered the old man's daughter killed, and had further framed him and his gang for the foul deed—had an idea where the lead goes on a peyote-fueled quasi-dream sequence that took place inside his own head. The executives at LucasArts said no, as that would be "inappropriate" material. That designer nonetheless held onto the seed of the idea, and eventually created Psychonauts.
Whether it was a more executive decision or not is unknown, but apparently the 'Meat Flag' multiplayer game mode for Gears of War 2 by Epic Games was renamed 'Submission' at the behest of the PR team at Microsoft.
For its North American release, the European game Fahrenheit had its name changed to Indigo Prophecy to avoid confusion with the Michael Moore film Fahrenheit 911, and to avoid the dreaded "Adults Only" rating, they excised the game's two sex scenes. Apparently, the cinematic, subdued sex is adults-only material, but opening the game with the main character hiding his tracks after unwittingly committing murder is just Rated M for Money!
Interestingly, the game's director has said on occasion that he actually likes Indigo Prophecy better as a title, and wishes every region carried it (and the game continuously uses centigrade to signify temperature). As for the sex scenes compared to the violence, well that's a case of Values Dissonance.
The apparent reason for the game's story taking a nosedive into Crazyland is that the developers ran out of time and money before the could finish it the way they wanted.
When the first trailer for Resident Evil 5 featured Chris Redfield (a white character) mowing down a sea of black Majini (zombies), cries of racism ensued, led by Newsweek game reviewer N'Gai Croal. While producer Jun Takeuchi and Capcom claimed not to be influenced by the moral panic, the following trailer depicted a more racially diverse Majini, and a female African sidekick.
Tetris the Grand Master ACE, as well as the TGM series in general, was a major victim of executive meddling. Since mid-2005, Henk Rogers of The Tetris Company mandated that to be licensed, all Tetris games must have certain gameplay aspects, including infinite rotation and the (extremely complex and unwieldy) "Super Rotation System". As a result, what was supposed to be a console port of the most challenging commercial Tetris game ever made ended up in a Porting Disaster that required developers to completely rewrite the engine to accommodate the Super Rotation System, resulting in a much easier, watered-down game that lacked virtually all the staples of the TGM series, including the famed difficulty that made it so popular in the first place. Since then, Arika has yet to make another Tetris game.
And despite all of this, Arika is very stingy about fans making clones of their games to counteract the lack of a proper console TGM port. If you decide to upload a video of yourself playing the clones Heboris or Texmaster on YouTube, prepare to remove all references to TGM and either game's title unless you want Arika to have your video taken down. This video sums up Arika's and the TTC's meddling, and, as a Take That to said meddling, showcases a variety of Tetris clones in a catchy music video. Ironically, people playing Tetris clones have since then put "this fan game video will be flagged" in their videos' tags as a Shout-Out to that video and as a secret handshake to other fans looking for TGM videos. In May of 2009, Arika asked Youtube to wipe out videos of Lockjaw, another Tetris clone. Even if said videos are of people playing the "40 Lines" mode, which has almost nothing to do with Arika or TGM.
Tomb Raider had some meddling in its early life. After the huge success of the first Tomb Raider game, producers wanted to make Lara Croft more appealing to the male demographic. Toby Gard, the game and character's creator, hated the idea of changing Lara just to appeal to the fans and he felt like he had less control over his creative ideas. His only other option Eidos Interactive gave him was to port the original Tomb Raider to the Nintendo 64, which Gard did not agree with either. He wound up leaving Core Design in disgust.
And then he returned to aid in the development of Legend and Anniversary, both of which saw drastic modification in Lara's character from the previous games. Your mileage will vary regarding whether or not this has had a positive effect on the series.
Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation was supposed to be the final game in the series, signified by Lara's supposed death in the collapsing tomb at the end of the game. Core Design was done with the series, but Eidos still saw the series as a moneymaker and pushed Core to pump out another Tomb Raider game afterwards called Tomb Raider Chronicles. This may explain why the appearance of Larson and Pierre and the time period they appeared in with Lara confused many fans on the continuity.
Tomb Raider Anniversary had some meddling from the ESRB during development. Originally, Lara was supposed to be impaled if she fell in a pit of spikes, but due to the game having much more realistic graphics compared to the original 1996 game, the impalement would have been seen as too graphic and wouldn't be suited for a T (Teen) rating. In order to keep the game rated T, the developers had to make Lara rag doll upon death, which meant she would bounce off the spikes as if they were made out of rubber.
Microsoft requires all Xbox 360 games to have a list of achievements for the players to unlock. This may explain why some achievements are a waste of time or are super easy to get. In addition, any out-of-the-box game has to have exactly 1000 gamer points. Add-on content can up this.
Ostensibly, this is a way for Microsoft to give gamers a permanent sense of achievement (no pun intended) in playing the games, though it's also become like leaderboards, where they matter mostly for bragging rights. Some games have well thought out achievements that are unlocked when you complete a certain section of the game or reach a certain story event, while some don't. And then some games have intentionally ludicrous ones, such as the achievement you get in The Simpsons Game for pressing the Start button (though the game itself is an Affectionate Parody of the entire video game medium and industry).
Or the game of Avatar: The Last Airbender, in which all of the achievements (worth 1000 gamepoints) can be completed in the first 15 minutes in the tutorial mission.
Some horribly cynical people have suggested that some developers put ridiculously easy achievements in games as a marketing tactic, as there's a small but obsessed group of gamers out there who will buy the game just for a quick boost to their gamerscore. If it's a crappy licensed game that'll sell like hot cakes with kids but otherwise hold no appeal to the "hardcore", then it might just be a worthwhile ploy.
Xenosaga had heavy meddling done to the series. Xenosaga II where Ziggy's back story was removed and made into a cell phone game that was only available in Japan. Plus the strange decision on Namco/Bandai of America's part to remove blood in Xenosaga III despite the previous games having had blood with the same T rating.
The title of Beyond Good & Evil has little to do with the actual game (in which good and evil are pretty obviously defined, and there's nary a dying god or abyss gazing also in sight). The title, however, was a result of meddling. The game was originally announced as "Project BG&E", with the "BG&E" standing for "Between Good and Evil". The title was originally meant to be a reference to the way a photograph can fall anywhere on the sliding scale of character alignments. The higher-ups didn't like it, and the Nietzsche reference was shoehorned in.
The actual gameplay got meddled, too. The game was trapped in a mild Development Hell, and was originally intended to be much longer. It was intended to stretch to cover other planets, instead of the one (and the moon) in the final game. Concerns over development time cut the whole game short, so that the brand-new IP that no one knew how to handle could be released right alongside the highly-anticipated Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.
Perfect Dark Zero started out on the GameCube, then Microsoft bought Rare from Nintendo in 2002 so they had to restart the development of the game for the Xbox. When they were almost done, Microsoft asked them to transfer Development to the Xbox 360, and they wanted it to be a launch title. So, Rare was rushed while they were making the game, and they had to have 700,000 discs ready before the Microsoft certification was complete, to meet the Xbox 360 launch date. Rare also did not have the full Development Kits for the 360, and the one they had was only capable of around 1/3rd of the 360's graphical capabilities. Overall, because of all of this it took Rare 5 years to make this game.
It's been speculated that the Contested SequelBanjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts was at one point during development supposed to be a more traditional collect-a-thon platformer like it's predecessors, until (supposedly at Microsoft's behest) the gameplay focus was retooled to vehicular construction. Indeed, the first trailer for the game looked like it would be another traditional platformer with nary a vehicle in sight.
DJMAX games from DJMAX Portable Black Square onwards (save for DJMAX Technika) have an "auto-correct" feature that will hit the correct note for you if you hit the wrong button. It's speculated that Pentavision implemented this feature to avoid legal issues with Konami.
Tales of Vesperia itself is likely a major source of a lot of meddling, when the PS3 version was announced, even before the European version for the 360 was released, with abnormally high amounts of new content, a lot of Japanese fans decided to poke about the DVD and discovered traces of these "added" contents were present in the code already. Then there is the ingame remarks like this....and the new character having identifying marks all over the 360 source code. All fingers are pointing at Sony and Namco for this one.
Regarding Tales of Eternia, there's actually a different reason for that. It was originally changed to Tales of Destiny II because of potential copyright infringements with the Masters of the Universe toy line. Some have suspected this was the reason for the PSP port not getting an North American release, but on the plus side, at least the PSP is region-free; and it's possible to get an English version.
Back in 2001, there were Pajama Sam, Freddi Fish, and Spy Fox remakes in development which looked promising. You know what the Humongous Entertainment executives did with them? The games were cancelled. The rights to the three series were sold off to Majesco, which eventually published them to commercial success. In fact, Humongous wanted to sell all the franchises... but the MLB, MLS, NHL, NBA, and NFL did not let the Backyard Sports series get away.
A case of good executive meddling: Disney wanted to reinvent Mickey Mouse, so they asked Warren Spector to make a game with him in it. The result? Epic Mickey, which aside from some problems, is otherwise Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
There is a negative example too. One highly-touted mechanic was Mickey changing appearance depending on his Karma Meter, changing him into the old-school prankster or the modern heroic Mickey if the player is bad or good respectively. Several test players were upset by early images of an angry-looking, rat-like "Scrapper" Mickey, and in order to not alienate them, Disney asked that Spector remove this aspect of the game.
There's also the Disney characters in Kingdom Hearts having no real bearing on the plot and little to no reason to be there at all, what with the story focusing around Sora and the rest of the originals.
Turns out this is why the Dynasty Warriors (and in fact all of the KOEI Warriors games) have their infamous voice acting; the localizations have to be done on schedule regardless of quality, and the international subsidiaries need the permission of KOEI Japan to use the original voice acting; that hasn't been the case in America since Samurai Warriors in 2004, and Dynasty Warriors 3 before it.
Dynasty Warriors Online, after being in "No Export for You" mode, not for bad reasons mind you, for 5 years finally got translated to English but with undubbed voices, averting the above, however there still is an issue. For some reason the game is updated with all weapon in the original version, but what weapons are available for players is cut back, presumably to keep players hooked waiting for their wanted weapons like the Japanese gamers were. The original release had a very messed up schedule for weapons trying to balance "fixed releases" with "giving players verity", quite a few solutions passing through. Eventually they settled on releasing one new weapon every so often after the players got about half, which is still plenty mind you, of the weapons released. The English version is still behind the original noticeably, though.
If it weren't for those meddlin' executives, we'd be short one poker playin' hobo. The series' creator wanted to make another Ace Attorney game, but with a new cast of characters. Capcom pressured the guy to keep Phoenix Wright in the game since they believed his name and image alone would sell a ton. The creator still wanted to go with his image of a new cast, but to make Capcom happy, he threw in Phoenix as a man who got disbarred from court and no longer practices law while newbie defense attorney Apollo Justice replaces Phoenix's role. The meddling may explain why only The Judge, Phoenix, and Gumshoe and Mike Meekins via flashback case appear in the game while everyone else from the series beforehand are mysteriously missing without any word on what happened to them.
The meddling is also the reason why Apollo's history is barely explained while Phoenix still pulls the strings for most of the game, making Apollo look like a big idiot.
The series also has an in-universe case of executive meddling where lawmakers pushed for the court system to settle cases within 3 days in order to speed up trials and to prevent them from lingering so long while heavily favoring the prosecution, because it's usually easier to rule guilty than non guilty.
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker was subject to executive meddling both in Japan and countries outside of Japan: for Japan, it ended up having to edit the torture scene so Strangelove would use a device called "laughing rods" that would essentially tickle the victim in order to keep its rating in Japan, and future references to the torture were either omitted or just vaguely referenced for the same reason as well, to which Hideo Kojima expressed disappointment in his Twitter account. This actually leads to an interesting role reversal, as the countries outside Japan actually get the torture scene unedited. Countries outside of Japan also have similar cuts due to executives, although nowhere near as drastic. You know the Tortilla Chips, Lime Soda, Zero-Calorie Soda, Spicy/Great/Future Curry, and Men's Cologne recovery items as well as the Solid, Liquid, Solidus, and Super Magazines? Well, in the Japanese version, those were actually real life products (namely Doritos, Mountain Dew, Pepsi NEX, Bon-Curry/Bon-Curry Gold, AXE Bodyspray, and various Japanese magazines, respectively), but their names were changed because of the strict trademark laws outside Japan.
Peace Walker actually has actual executive meddling in-game (or rather: executive branch meddling). In both EVA's discussion tapes and Strangelove's memories, it delves quite a bit into the Mercury Project that The Boss participated in. For one thing: things were going smoothly for the project up until the Department of Defense, primarily out of fear and an extreme sense of competition against Soviet Russia due to recent intelligence suggesting that they actually will send a man into space, had the Mercury team install a window into the spacecraft that she was going to be launched in at the last moment (well, close to it anyway), using the whole "She's been irradiated once, and thus she will be immune to the radiation in space" to justify their decision, to which Strangelove never bought since she knew due to her rational and logical nature that her being irradiated once would actually achieve the exact opposite effect. Turns out that the entire thing ended in complete disaster. While The Boss did end up seeing the Earth and ultimately spawned her will, the spacecraft, due to their rushing the project to beat Yuri Gagarin into space, ended up crashlanding far beyond the recovery point, nearly causing her death, and frying her a lot in the process. She ended up in a coma for six whole months. This also meant that contrary to what The Boss stated in her final speech, she did not actually participate in the Bay of Pigs Invasion, as she was in a coma during that time. Also, thanks to the DOD's failure, Yuri Gagarin was officially the first man in space, even though The Boss beat him by a few seconds, and as a result, the DOD and everyone else in the military brass/government started hating on her despite the fact that the whole failure was their fault.
The Xbox 360 itself suffered meddling from Microsoft during the manufacturing period in late 2005. Microsoft pressured builders to cut corners and skimp on parts in order to rush the console onto the market in time for the Christmas season and to get ahead of Sony when they had plans to release the PlayStation 3 in 2006. This would bite Microsoft back hard a year or two later since the infamous Red Ring of Death plagued around 20%-30% of people who owned the console. The console had a poorly made heatsink, which caused the CPU to quickly fry and cause 3 red rings to light up by the power button to signify there was a hardware error. Microsoft had lost a ton of money replacing all the fried consoles and giving consumers an extended warranty on their new console.
The final estimate came to around 50%, essentially half their consoles were intentionally built to last little more than a year, if that.
That number got pushed to 64% later on according to Microsoft, apparently refurbished consoles would fail just as easily.
The Witcher video game, under the hands of publisher Atari was heavily meddled to the point of unacceptable (even developer CD Projekt Red thinks so). The US version got a "Blind Idiot" Translation script, removed adult content and a DRM scheme that CD Projekt Red never intended to put in. Not until the Enchanced Edition and 1.5 patch released by the original developer was things fixed, it reworked the entire script, removed the DRM scheme and many other fixes to make the game the way it was intended to be.
Originally, the villains for Homefront would have been the Chinese. However, due to fears of offending China (specifically, the Chinese Ministry of Culture), the villains were instead changed to North Unified Koreans.
This led to the game being banned in Korea, one of the most gaming-addicted nations on Earth. It's debatable whether this outbalances being legal in China.
The unfortunate case of the fan game My Little Pony Fighting Is Magic is a perfect example. In 2013, the EVO fighting game tournament held a "charity poll" to determine the 8th official game.note Participants had to make a charitable donation in order to vote. When Fighting is Magic was nominated, the game's development team begged fans to support Skullgirls instead since Fighting Is Magic was still an incomplete alpha; EVO's staff made a similar request, adding that they didn't want the developers to feel pressured into rushing the game just to get it out in time for the tournament. Fans didn't listen and continued voting in record numbers, which forced EVO to just outright disqualify the game from the polling. Unfortunately, this incident drew the attention of Hasbro, the owners of the My Little Pony franchise, who shut down Fighting Is Magic with a cease and desist order because they didn't like their cute, kid-friendly franchise being used in a fighting game.
For a while, the team that worked on Darkstalkers said that they'd love to make Darkstalkers 4, but Capcom didn't want to work on anything that wasn't a Cash Cow Franchise (eg. Street Fighter). Street Fighter producer Yoshinori Ono has been trying to drum up interest in a Darkstalkers sequel in order to prove to Capcom that it would be worth making, starting with Darkstalkers Resurrection, a XBLA/PSN compilation of Night Warriors: Darkstalkers' Revenge and Darkstalkers 3. Unfortunately, this didn't work.
According to internal sources, L.A. Noire was fraught with executive meddling when Rockstar Games joined Team Bondi to help get the game out of Development Hell. Rockstar executives would constantly veto Bondi's ideas, citing them as "insane". This battle for creative control poisoned relations between the two companies to the point that they essentially cut ties with one another. However, since the game was Saved from Development Hell and received positive reviews shortly after Rockstar's intervention, opinion varies on whether this is a case of good or bad meddling. It should be noted that there were already problems in Team Bondi even before Rockstar's intervention which is why the game was under development for seven years.
From Rockstar's perspective, it worked out great as the game was a huge success and they retained the rights to the series, so they ended up with another Cash Cow Franchise. For Team Bondi, things didn't work out quite as well and the studio closed its doors mere months after the game was released.
In Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, one of the newly added characters is Doctor Strange. Capcom notes that of all of the Marvel characters they have worked on, Dr. Strange was the only one that Marvel sent a list of specific things they had to do and what they couldn't do with the character. They even dictated what sort of hand gestures Dr. Strange uses. While Capcom managed to get some changes in, citing technical difficulties, most of their creative decisions for Dr. Strange were overruled by Marvel. There is speculation that this has something to do with the upcoming Dr. Strange film.
During discussions of what characters went into Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Marvel had the final say in what characters of theirs they didn't want in, such as Venom. The only exception is Shuma-Gorath, whom Marvel didn't want in, but Capcom protested, and they agreed he could be in but only as DLC.
In a positive example, Capcom wanted to include a Fantastic Four character but had trouble making all of the members viable.note Human Torch's flame effects ate up RAM and caused slowdown, all their ideas for the Thing made him a virtual clone of the Hulk, and they couldn't think of enough moves for Mr. Fantastic or the Invisible Woman. Marvel stepped in and suggested they use the Super-Skrull, a villain who possesses all of the Fantastic Four's powers at the same time, which handily solved all their earlier issues while streamlining the roster in the process.
Another case: Originally Capcom wasn't going to include Deadpool because, due to a miscommunication. They thought he was on Marvel's "blacklist" of rejected characters due to being unpopular. When Marvel found out, they explained that Deadpool is actually extremely popular and that he wasn't on the blacklist, but rather on the list of characters that they absolutely wanted to see in the game.
Guy Cihi, voice and motion capture actor for James Sunderland, the main character of Silent Hill 2, only authorized use of his performance to Konami for the original PlayStation 2 version of the game and not the Xbox or PC versions. This ended up creating residuals that Konami owes to Cihi that, even after ten years, have not been paid. Even worse, the Silent Hill: HD Collection for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 features new voice acting for the Updated Re-release of the game in addition to the original voice tracks, as if to circumvent the problem. However, Cihi technically still has the rights to his motion-capture performance. Other voice actors later stated that video game voice actors don't get residuals.
In an interview two months after the release of the HD Collection, Tomm Hulett (the producer) explained that the source code Konami gave to the team wasn't from the final version of the game. Despite that, the team was forced to recompile many source files and work around issues that had already been solved by the time the game was originally launched.
Oh, Tabula Rasa, how shall we count the ways? From the revamps of the game before to the total reset to the back-and-forth switch between free to play and subscription, with servers which wouldn't hold a connection for more than an hour... well, eventually, the whole multi-million dollar MMO, right when it was finally getting off its feet, shut down when NCSoft forged a resignation letter from Richard Garriott. Evidently the Lord British Postulate applies to his career, now, too. For added chutzpah, they revealed this particular claim while he was in space. Additional points: His space trip was being used to advertise the game!
Master of Orion 3 was considered hit extremely hard by this. There was an interior clash between two developers, one who worked on the two highly-successful games, and a new developer. Eventually, the old face was worked out of the equation of development, resulting in his work being destroyed. The new changes were designed to create more realism in the game, however resulting in Game Breaking Bugs and why you shouldn't design a game that at one point had over 100 GUIs. The development itself was best described as "doing taxes", but then things went downhill. DRM was introduced to combat piracy of the game, but was designed in such a manner than any CD drive that could burn CDs wouldn't read it, resulting in many legitimate users from not being able to play. Finally, the support for the game was bare bones, as most developers had moved on...resulting in bringing in employees with no knowledge of code to determine where bugs were occuring.
Postal III was affected badly by this. When Running With Scissors partnered with Akella for development and production, Akella immediately began meddling, forcing a Russian release to take priority over western release, demanding that the much touted Free Roam mode be axed (only allowing it to be put back in via patch after a lot of back and forth), and cutting corners at every chance they got, most infamously refusing to let the ESRB rate the game, just to save money (this consequently meant they also refused to let it be sold anywhere outside of Russia except through the RWS website until three months after it had actually come out). Running With Scissors has even apologized to the fans over this, now referring to the game as "Russian Postal" and disowning it.
Porsche had to be removed from Forza Motorsport 4; in the middle of development, EA, who holds the rights to use Porsche in their games, told Turn 10 (the developers) that they couldn't use Porsche in Forza 4, despite the cars being in Forza 3. Surprise, surprise, EA was coming out with yet another Need for Speed game, featuring Porsche. Instead of featuring Porsche, Forza 4 uses Ruf cars, which are Porsches with bigger spoilers and some extra stuff bolted on to the engine; like what Saleen is to Ford's Mustangs. This resulted in the amount of Porsches effectively going down form a couple dozen down to a pathetic 3 cars, all of which are souped up 911 Turbos.
DMC were irked by Clarkson's comments regarding the DeLorean in the Autovista mode, and an update caused it to be mysteriously removed without mention. The commentary still exists in print in the booklet shipped with the Forza 4 collector's editions, however. You can also still view it on YouTube, though note that, as with anything people actually want to watch on YouTube, they tend to disappear without warning.
Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords was meddled rather thoroughly by LucasArts. First they rushed the development to make a Christmas release date, meaning quite a lot of stuff (including 90% of the HK-50 story arc) got Dummied Out due to time constraints. Then it turned into straight-up Screwed by the Network when Obsidian offered to put together a patch to restore the missing content and LucasArts refused. Fortunately the modding community has managed to fix most of it.
The third game of the Star Wars Battlefront series, developed by Free Radical Designs was pretty far into its development cycle. A leaked trailer showcased impressive features at the time such as being able to jump into a fighter and fly from a ground battle into space, all in real time. At some point during development, the management at LucasArts changed hands. The new CEO, Darrel Rodriguez, made it a point to cut costs as much as possible, and Battlefront 3 was costing money. This ended up being another kick in the long series of such events that eventually led to Free Radical closing its doors.
Superman 64 is known for being extremely horrible and have glitches and bugs up the ass, but most of the problems didn't come from the developers themselves; the beta version was notoriously better than the final product. The people that held the license, DC Comics and Warner Bros., kept interfering with the development on the game for "political reasons". They wouldn't allow Superman to have his powers naturally (making them have limited use instead of having it all the time and at will) nor did they allow Superman to attack people, so they limited his moves to just silly looking punches and granted invincibility to NPCs. The last part is also why the game takes place in a virtual world Lex Luthor created, instead of the "real" Metropolis. The developers of the game were extremely frustrated by the higher ups meddling in their project and stated that the final version does not even come close to what they had originally envisioned the game to be.
Atari insisted that Neverwinter Nights 2's first and only DLC, Mysteries of Westgate, ship with a DRM scheme. This caused the adventure pack to be delayed almost two years, causing an uproar in the fanbase. By the time it finally came out people had lost interest. A few months later, Atari took the DRM off the game, expansions, and Mysteries.
The original campaign was hit pretty hard by this too. Atari demanded that the game have a Christmas release, forcing Obsidian to rush to a finish, cutting out a lot of characterization for your party members and two romance arcs in the process. The worst part, though, was that they hadn't finished working all the kinks out, so when the game was released it was horribly buggy and hindered by bad gameplay. Later patches fixed that problem, but the fandom is still seething.
In recent years, the Super Robot Wars franchise hasn't been allowed to use Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ because Bandai reportedly has "big plans" for it; this has lead to fans speculating that it'll make its grand return in Super Robot Wars Z 3: Tengoku-hen alongside the second half of Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn. Fans have also suggested that ZZ might be sidelined because Kazuki Yao, who plays protagonist Judau Ashta, has been having vocal problems of late, which caused his character Franky to have a reduced role in One Piece Film Z.
It's commonly believed that Bandai forced Banpresto to include the then-popular Mobile Suit Gundam SEED into Super Robot Wars Alpha 3, scrapping the original plan to feature Gundam Sentinel for the first time. While series producer Takanobu Terada has all but confirmed that SEED was put into the lineup by executive order, the incomplete Sentinel mecha sprites found on Alpha 3's disc are also present in Alpha 2, suggesting that its removal from the game had nothing to do with being "bumped" by SEED.
Speaking of Alpha 3, Banpresto originally planned on bringing back Giant Robo (which previously appeared in the first Alpha) and averting the anime's infamous Gecko Ending with an all-new storyline, which saw Big Fire managing to usurp Irui's godhood and taking control of Ganeden. However, the death of creator Mitsuteru Yokoyama caused his estate to raise the licensing fees on his work by an astronomical level, shelving the plans; while Yokoyama's Tetsujin 28 later appeared in Super Robot Wars Z 3, Giant Robo is unlikely to ever return because it features practically all of Yokoyama's creations, meaning licensing it would still be ludicrously expensive.
For a game that was born from executive meddling, we have the Spyro the Dragon franchise in all its glory. In order to compete with the companies of Mario and Sonic, Sony realized that they needed to appeal to the "kids market" in gaming, considering most of the games in the late '90s for the PlayStation were teen and adult oriented. So with the aid of Insomniac Games, they created a game with a cute dragon. Funny thing is, Insomniac never had the full rights to the franchise, in which it was sold off to Universal Interactive Studios after the release of Year of the Dragon. Only then did it become a franchise zombie. After the release of A Hero's Tail, Sierra bought the franchise, and gave it a severe continuity reboot (The Legend of Spyro series), which due to insufficient man power and funds, created a controversy of the quality of the games. Needless to say, Activision bought out Sierra and let them keep the franchise in hopes "to have promising results," which costs Sierra its better, older franchises like King's Quest and Space Quest.
When the developers (Fred Ford and Paul Reiche III, these days running their own development house Toys for Bob) and publisher (Accolade) of the first two Star Control games parted ways, Accolade retained rights to the name, while the developers held the rights to all of the actual creative content. A few years later, Accolade wanted to squeeze out Star Control 3, but Ford and Reiche were unwilling to allow their creations to be used. Accolade stated that the game was going to be made under the Star Control name regardless of them. If they had to create new content with zero ties to the preceding games, then so be it. In the end Ford and Reiche relented, figuring that at least allowing continuity was the lesser of two evils.
Sierra. Poor, poor Sierra. A series of buy-outs, a massive financial controversy by Cendant, the forcing out of company founder Ken Williams, and then Vivendi. Vivendi closed Dynamix, the studio that developed all of Sierra's simulator titles, (including the highly-regarded Aces series) and essentially forced the company to abandon the development of Adventure Games. Two of its last adventure titles of the 90s era, King's Quest: Mask of Eternity and Quest for Glory V, were both severely affected by Executive Meddling individually (suffering rushed productions and game-breaking bugs) and the lukewarm reception to both was part of the justification for shutting down adventure game production entering the 2000s.
Showing that Tropes Are Not Bad, the original X-COM was planned to be a fairly generic strategy game set on an alien world. The publisher, Microprose, wanted a game on a grander scale, so they asked that the game be moved to earth, suggested the UFO invasion theme, and requested the addition of the game's overarching planetwide strategic gameplay, ultimately including the addition of the ability to steal technology from aliens.
BioShock was not originally planned to have Multiple Endings. The bad ending was initially the only one planned, however higher-ups didn't like this and pushed for the developers to add a second (happier) ending. This is actually an example of Executive Meddling being a good thing, as many players prefer the Crowning Moment of Heartwarming good ending where Jack takes the Little Sisters back to the surface and raises them as his own family over the downer bad ending where Jack is driven insane by splicing and tries to Take Over the World.
Cryptic Studios is not allowed to include things to the game without CBS's explicit go-ahead. These include the Tier 5 refit ships (modeled after legendary ships such as the Enterprise-D). As well, while many of the franchise's classes could be altered to make new ships, a number of them are explicitly off limits, the biggest one being the TOS Constitution Class.
Because of the strange rights problems between CBS and Paramount, the game is explicitly forbidden to reference anything from J.J. Abrams' Star Trek series with the sole exceptions of the destruction of Romulus and Spock Prime and Nero's disappearance.
Cryptic held a fan design competition to design the USS Enterprise-F, but CBS vetoed the winner in favor of the Odyssey-class cruiser, which wasn't even in the top 20. This, among other things, understandably led to a massive Internet Backdraft that made certain it would be the last time such a contest would be held.
Sony and Microsoft have a policy for patches on games where developers have to pay a fee to be allowed to upload a patch for everyone to download. The cost ranges in the tens of thousands of dollars, so constant patching can get very expensive very quickly. On top of that, it is said that Microsoft also restricts how large a patch can be, which means developers are either forced to cut back on what they can push out for patches or don't bother patching at all. The patch fees are likely the reason why many games go unpatched for years and are left in a broken mess while their PC counterparts don't have to jump through the patch fee hurdles. Sony is attempting to avert this by removing patch fees for all developers with the PlayStation 4.
While the details are unknown, the infamously despised Batman Dark Tomorrow was originally going to be an open world sandbox game with Batman interacting with the environment like Spider-Man in the Spider-Man 2 movie-licensed game and be released on the GameCube. Then Microsoft expressed interest in releasing the game on the Xbox and stated they were going to make needed changes to the game, including fixing the "broken combat". A brief trip to development hell later and the final version became known as the worst Batman game ever, with several issues regarding linearity, combat, platforming and the lack of clues to get the real ending.