Fez was a game with a long and difficult development history. But the ultimate pay-off was a huge hit and its creator, Phil Fish, thrust into the limelight. But apparently we won’t be seeing Fez II, because we’re all big meanies to Phil Fish.
Fish claims this is a long time coming, but the catalyst of this weekend’s meltdown was a rant by Marcus Beer, the “Annoyed Gamer”, on the GameTrailers panel show Invisible Walls. Beer went off on Jonathan Blow and Fish for, essentially, being prima donnas who don’t reply to media requests. Beer was rather blunt in his opinion of the two, who he called “BlowFish”.
Speaking as a journalist for a moment, as in fact a former employee of GameTrailers, Beer was in the wrong, at least in singling out Blow and Fish. Accepting “no comment” is part of the job, full stop. Yeah, it’s annoying that both whine on Twitter about the media bugging them for quotes, but why single them out? It’s an unfortunately common attitude on the part of indie developers to refuse to talk to the media unless it serves their purposes, and Beer was wrong to put it on just those two.
That said, though, Fish’s behavior went on to cement that Beer was at least right about Fish’s attitude towards the press. Fish threw an enormous online hissy fit and at the end of it, canceled Fez II, and in fact is shutting down his studio and getting out of games development.
Fish has been subject to criticism for a while, both merited and the usual hostility any developer runs into online. For example, His now-infamous comments about Japanese developers are often labeled racist, which they’re not. But he still insulted a Japanese developer to his face in a public forum, and Fish has yet to demonstrate any understanding of why just maybe that seems rude to some people. Also, his general method of handling the public leaves something to be desired from a PR standpoint.
Fish doesn’t deserve abuse for existing, or making a game, but it’s hard to take his complaints seriously in light of his behavior. It’s sad we won’t see Fez II, but in light of why it got canceled, we’ve got to wonder if we were ever going to see it, even if this never happened.