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Elvis, JFK, and Expert Software

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Sorry about the lack of updates. Been doing other stuff.

Following up on my news-post a few days ago, you can order the CD with the free CE developer tools here. The tools are free, but it's $7.50 for S&H.

If you don't wanna pay for the S&H, you'll be able to download it for free eventually. It'll be a colossal download, though, so you might just wanna pay the toll and get the CD expressed to your door.

Apparently the CD's not shipping for a bit, so don't hold your breath. Folks in the newsgroups are saying the tools are supposed to officially ship in early June. I'll letcha know when my CD arrives. I've had fairly good luck with MS's direct-delivery, so I'm being optimistic.

I found the news item about Acrivision finally closing Expert on fatbabies.com interesting, but not surprising. It was also not surprising to see that they were dumping most of the products. I'm musing as to what titles will migrate from Expert to the Head Games line.

  • The Bicycle card games seem like a shoe-in for the production values, but I'm not so sure. Seems like there's already no shortage of free card games on the internet, so I wonder if $10 CD-versions will be a draw.

  • The Sega games also seem like winners, but I wonder if Activision can stomach selling one of their biggest competitor's products. I imagine they'll be sold off to someone else, like Sega.

  • Their productivity apps haven't seen updates in years (some of 'em are still 16-bit). Those are 100% doomed.

  • The products that aren't in a particular "genre", specifically a couple of pinball titles, the LaMothe arcade-game packs, the casino packs, and yes, my games, are very likely doomed.

In short, I have no idea what'll be kept :-)

It will be interesting to see if Expert decides to release folks from their contracts before they give the products the heave-ho. They don't have to, but I imagine some folks will be left in the wind to twist if they've got exclusive deals with a company that won't sell their products.

John, once again, bids a silent "thank you" to the publishing gods for getting his games in under a boilerplate contract that Expert offered to shareware authors --that didn't require that they sell exclusively through Expert.

John also pats himself on the back for not backing down when Expert insisted that "40 Games" be held under a new exclusive contract.

I'm particularly wondering about some of their later products, like Perfect Chessmate, which was released very shortly before the buyout. Hopefully these folks aren't required to stick with Expert. Some of the other latter-day products, like Expert's ripoff Titanic game, seem to have fallen off the planet already.

I'm just wondering what I should do. I know that my future sales with Expert will be nil, and the five-year anniversary of my contract for 24 Games comes up in October. At that point, either company has the option of killing the contract with a letter, or else it'll continue on its own. I'll probably keep the contract going, as it gives me the option of auditing their books sometime down the road if I ever get word that I've been cheated.

I find it interesting that the discount rack has undergone an almost 100% company turnover in the past few years. Three years ago, TLC/Softkey was on top, followed by Expert, Wiz Technology, 7th Level, Swift/Cosmi, and My Software, with the new discount arm of Sierra putting terror into everyone's hearts.

Nowadays, Expert and TLC/Softkey are all but gone. Wiz and 7th Level died. Sierra pulled out of discount titles. The only ones that seem to have survived the fallout are small players like Swift/Cosmi and My Software.

We live in interesting times.

Heck, the fact that the Expert website is still advertising

[Expert finally removed the "big winter savings" banner sometime in July]

Should have been all the sign anyone needed :-)
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