David Jaffe’s Bartlet Jones studio closes after game cancellation
GamesIndustry.biz reported that the shutdown occurred a month after the company announced that it let go much of its team because its next game was cancelled.
“Yeah, it’s all true I’m afraid. Just the nature of the beast,” Jaffe said in an email to GamesBeat. “We had a cool game going with a publisher and as that game is no longer happening- and since all of our funding came from publishers- we just couldn’t keep the place going. It was a fantastic ride, however. I so loved our team and loved working with that crew and remain crazy proud of what we created with Drawn to Death. Excited to see where we all land after what has been one of the very best working experiences of my career thus far.”
Jaffe is best known for his work creating Sony’s God of War franchise and Twisted Metal. He started Bartlet Jones in 2013 and shipped one game, Drawn to Death. That title debuted on the PlayStation 4 in April 2017. It was a cute game with a lot of Jaffe’s over-the-top personality in it, but it didn’t thrive in the market. Critics gave it the low score of 56 out of 100, according to Metacritic.
I interviewed Jaffe about the shooter game in March 2017. He said in our interview that some people might view the game superficially as a crude title — akin to something like Duke Nukem — where asshole characters bad mouth each other and slay each other in brutal ways. But Jaffe said the game has his own brand of self-aware humor which he desperately hoped the audience would grasp.
And he also said that the story of the main character was told in ways that are very creative. You could, for instance, read doodles about the teenager that revealed the kid’s state of mind after his parents’ divorce. It is only in the actual gameplay that these parts of the game’s back story were revealed.
“We’re intentionally over the top. We’re trying to straddle this line between what a kid in high school would find stupid humor, over the top humor, bawdy vulgarity, but at the same time sort of wink at it,” Jaffe said. “We get that this stuff isn’t necessarily where the target is anymore, but to us — maybe because some of us grew up there, we just started working at the time — we’re still connected to that time. There’s a sense of charm to it, I guess?”
In that interview, I asked Jaffe, do you think your younger self would have made this game without that self-awareness? He answered, “Yeah, that’s called Twisted Metal. Sure, I think so.”