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THQ's Bilson: Metro 2033 'wasn't properly nurtured,' sequel to address issues


Last March, Metro 2033 snuck up on our reviewer radar and went on to earn respectable Metacritic scores of 77 on Xbox 360 and 81 on PC among critics at large. Though THQ CEO Brian Farrell characterized the title as "very profitable" for the publisher, it wasn't exactly burning up the sales charts. Speaking with the company's VP of Core Games, Danny Bilson, this week, we asked about Metro 2033 falling short of its potential.

"I'll give you the straight answer: It wasn't properly supported in all areas," Bilson said frankly. "It was a cool deal," he explained of the publishing agreement with developer 4A Games, "where it was inexpensive and they were doing their stuff."

"Did the game need polish in certain areas? Yes." he admitted. "So when I say it wasn't fully supported, it was product development and marketing that didn't support it the way it should've been." Bilson described Metro 2033 as "an orphan stepchild," saying that "a great marketer picked it up with four months to go and did what he could with four months to go, but it wasn't properly nurtured by marketing."

The absence of polish, Bilson assured, won't be an issue for Metro 2034, the in-development sequel. "The new one doesn't have any of those issues," Bilson said. "I green-lit the sequel before [the first] one shipped, because I know what [4A Games is] capable of -- I knew how cool it was."

Bilson added that the sequel would address "some of the gameplay issues" that were raised about the first game, while retaining "some awesome technology, great art, [the] interesting world -- all the freshness" of Metro 2033. "I would say it's gonna have some better, more familiar shooting mechanics in it," he clarified. "And I would also say it's going to have a first-class marketing campaign that kicks off at E3."

We wondered if that would include THQ getting in on the transmedia expansion of the franchise, given the publisher's proclivity for such projects. "We don't control any of it," Bilson said of the IP, explaining that the author of the books on which the games are based, Dmitry Glukhovsky, still holds the license. "I talked to him just the other day," Bilson recounted. "He's got transmedia plans of his own that are epic. He's got a series of books in Russia that support the world and different authors writing. And they've hopefully got a movie going and all that."

"I'm supporting him," Bilson assured. "It's like, 'What do you need, Dmitry, for me to help you make that happen?'" With a big smile, Bilson added, "He's really aggressive about it, so I'm not too worried."

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