A One Year In Development Cycle...Huh?
Earlier this week, you may have seen my video on this disaster of a video game, "Skull Island: Rise of Kong." Released on October 17th, the game faced massive flak for its lackluster graphics and underwhelming gameplay. While it may be tempting to simply label this as the worst game of 2023, a deeper dive into its development process reveals a complicated backdrop of restrictive conditions.
...a ONE YEAR Development Time Restriction!?
One of the key issues that plagued "Skull Island: Rise of Kong" was its extremely short development timeline. The game was developed by IguanaBee, a Chilean indie game studio known for its talent and experience with both original and licensed properties. However, this talent couldn't fully flourish as GameMill Entertainment, the publisher, limited the development time to just a year.
Per the Verge, an anonymous developer from IguanaBee even stated:
"I was on automatic pilot by the end of February because all hope was lost."
A Pattern of Pressure
GameMill has a history of contracting smaller development studios for quick turnarounds on licensed games. They’ve been known to impose challenging timeframes, often without adequate funding or resources, making it hard for developers to maintain a stable, experienced team. According to a former IguanaBee developer, funding from GameMill was inadequate to keep the team size consistent or to retain experienced staff for an extended period.
Information Gaps and Scope
Insiders also spoke about how crucial information for development was often not fully disclosed. Teams found themselves improvising due to the lack of details, which is hardly an ideal situation when creating something as complex as a video game. Considering that "Skull Island: Rise of Kong" was reportedly developed from scratch and with a team size ranging from two to 20 people, the one-year development window was less of a timeframe and more of a straightjacket.
The Constraints of Reality
While games can be developed within a year under certain conditions—like having a well-defined scope, a sufficiently large team, and pre-existing assets—none of these were available for "Skull Island: Rise of Kong." The reality is that a game of this magnitude needed more than what was provided in terms of time, information, and resources.
These factors combined to make it a project doomed from the start. The story behind its failure serves as a lesson about the perils of game development under restrictive and inadequate conditions... But the fact that this publisher has the audacity to charge full-price AAA for this garbage should be a crime in its own right.