SEGA, you’ve been doing a solid job of late. Those PC versions of Bayonetta and Vanquish; a strategy catalogue with Total War, the Endless series, Dawn of War (not the greatest entry this year, but still) in it – that’s all great stuff. Football Manager is still a juggernaut, and you’ve been floating the idea of Atlus titles heading PC-wards too. Even Sonic Mania has reportedly turned out well.
When you’ve managed to mostly please people with a Sonic game, SEGA, you know it’s a year of infinite possibilities. That’s why it’s time to take the ultimate step. Set right another wrong. Open to the door to what could be the most spectacular RPG sequel of all time. Yes, you know what I’m getting at here. It’s time to greenlight Alpha Protocol 2.
Obsidian want to do it. I know they do, because they told me exactly that when I asked them about it. They get asked about it a lot. Because people want Alpha Protocol 2. There’s just one obstacle, SEGA. You own the IP and would have to sign off on the new adventures of Michael Thorton, or Steven Heck, or whoever might wind up as the protagonist in a new game.
Look, I know the original development process for Alpha Protocol had its problems. There’s that story Feargus Urquhart tells about you spending $500,000 USD on a sequence, then scraping it after you decided it didn’t really fit. And things sounded kind of haphazard until the Chris Avellone, Travis Stout, and Matt MacLean team at Obsidian started giving the game their own direction. I understand the reviews weren’t to your liking, and its certainly difficult to defend the buggier parts of the game.
But I know you want to give Obsidian another shot at an RPG. You almost did in 2009 (while Alpha Protocol development was still ongoing) with that Aliens RPG, you just couldn’t quite follow through. Maybe it was too soon. Commitment can be hard, I know.
Well, now it’s 2017. Your recent moves as a publisher have been relatively popular (as long as you don’t talk to Dawn of War fans for too long), and it’s time to accept that even with the development difficulties and poor initial reception, Alpha Protocol was a groundbreaking title. Nobody else before or since has made an RPG with quite that many layers of reactivity to player choices both large and small. Except maybe Acquire and Way of the Samurai.
If you’re worried about sales figures, take heart from the Steamspy chart showing Alpha Protocol owned by 500,000 people. Sure, a proportion of those people picked it up when it was $2 USD in a Steam sale or part of a Humble Bundle or something, but it’s a sizeable base of players. I’ll buy a copy. Well, I mean, I’d probably get review code. But I’d buy a copy for a friend. See, you’re half-way to the Steam top sellers list already.
I know you like weird RPGs with a variable tone, SEGA, because you publish the Yakuza series. Just think of Alpha Protocol as another bizarre, modern-day RPG in your collection. One about spies, rather than Japanese organised crime. Although, if Obsidian want to put Michael Thorton undercover in the Yakuza somehow, that could be fine too.
So come on SEGA. You can get it right this time. Keep the proto-Archer dialogue, the strange cast, Thorton’s rigorous monotone, the unsurpassed reactivity, the curious existential perks system where you’re just rewarded for doing what you love, Pleasure Club on the soundtrack, Winnie the Pooh voicing a baddie, and Brayko’s jacket. Ditch the mini-games (or, you know, make them actually work properly with a mouse), throw lots of money at the QA team, make fighting people even half-way as engaging as talking to them, and you’ll have a sequel of champions.
Alpha Protocol 2: Game of the Year 2019. Guaranteed. Or my name’s not “I hear the Adirondacks are beautiful at this time of year”.