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Developers change names a lot.


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It's pretty commonly known that a lot of Developers change hands, and this leads to them changing their name. "Iguana Entertainment" is now "Acclaim Studios Austin". "Nintendo EAD" used to be "Nintendo R&D4".

What would be the best way to handle these?

Absolutely one option is to introduce aliases for developers; but I also feel like, knowing in what era the developer used that name is interesting and important, and changing names is seen as a change?

But the issue with that is, there are many games in the database developed by R&D4 that are attributed to EAD; this makes sense, but.

An idea that just came to mind: what if developers had aliases, alongside a year range of when they used that alias; it would automatically display the correct alias for the game's release date. (LaunchBox the app would still show them as separate Developers unless that was changed, but this is still, a good way to keep the database in order/accurate? Hm.)

Thoughts?

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Personally I think that the name in the database should have the Publisher's and/or Developer's name that existed at the time the game was launched.

Otherwise we might get for example older games like "Shadow of the Beast" published by "Psygnosis" turned into "Sony Studio Liverpool or XDev" or DMA Design turned in to "Rockstar North" for the game "Lemmings" which would be quite odd to be honest :D


But having aliases/gameography does sound interesting!
Launchbox is an eyeopener for gaming history - I've found out so many things I'd never heard of before and I thought I did know a lot already.

 

Edited by kurzih
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I do still have questions on...

should we choose some kind of standard for: "Rare" vs "Rareware" vs "Rare Ltd."

"Ocean" vs "Ocean Sofwater"

(I also still see "Nintendo of America" or even "Nintendo of Australia", when surely we'd just want "Nintendo", for the publisher, right?)

and Publishers are Region based, but I usually see the American publisher put in there. I feel like adding (optional) Region field to Publisher could be beneficial.

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It's good questions, though I would perhaps think it like this:

Publisher/Developer naming should perhaps be chosen depending on how the company is displaying itself to the gamer on the front/back cover (like the company Logo) and/or in-game if there is no cover. For example, would a game start with "Nintendo presents" .. or "Nintendo, co. ltd. presents.  Full company names are good for making legal contracts etc., and some company's official names are actually a totally different name than their "publicly known trade name".

I also understand that the Publisher varies depending on regions and if it's globally the same company, but named slightly differently, then I think its most commonly used name would be fine as you said.
Or if that's not fine, then as you suggest, we would like to have them fully named by region and separated with a Region field option. In the case of a fully named regional name, it would indeed sound odd if for example a game with a different European alternative name than the US name has the Publisher "Nintendo of America", that would be incorrect information.

But in the end I wouldn't decline if someone wants to change Rare, Rareware or Rare Ltd., XXXX America, XXXX Europe and so on. Though I doubt if it will be worth the time changing 1000's of entries just to add Ltd. or remove it.

And yes, the database default language is English and the default (Primary) region is North America.

Edited by kurzih
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  • 2 months later...

Was about to make a thread about this but saw that there already was an older one. Put simply the developer/publisher entries in the database are a complete mess and some kind of standard or guideline needs to be set.

A good example is Square where in the database you have:

Square Co., Ltd.

Square

Squaresoft

Square Soft

Square Soft, Inc.

And I see there's even an entry in the database named "Square,squaresoft". Yes, I know the US branch was officially called Square Soft instead of using it as a brand, but the way it's done now just makes it all very unclear and messy.

While I 100% agree that official restructurings and mergers should be reflected, e.g. their older game entries should not be updated to Square Enix, I don't think it's a good idea to slavishly keep to what's on the box art or in the game menu for two reasons:

1) In the case of Japanese developers and publishers in particular, the English names are typically translated from the Japanese term kabushiki gaisha which may be done slightly differently at different times and probably depending on who did the translation. I've seen the same company alternately refer to itself with Co. Ltd. and Inc. endings. Likewise western companies may alternately drop their "Ltd." or even "Productions" or what have you. Then comes the question of capitalization and stylization, should it be "Square Soft, Inc." or "SQUARE SOFT, Inc."? In essence I don't think this information as it's typically displayed is always trustworthy enough to follow to the letter; they themselves often didn't seem to care enough to be consistent, so we shouldn't care about following whatever ended up on the box either.

2) The whole point of even having this information is to attribute credit to and group together different games that were developed or published by the same entity, and randomly showing different names completely defeats this purpose.

Optimally you'd do it like IMDb where you would have one official name with a link to the database entry and then in parentheses (credited as...) so you could end up with something like "Square Co., Ltd. (as Squaresoft)" but obviously the database does not support something like that so you you would have to choose one name.

Normally I'd go for the full official, legal name like "Square Co., Ltd." but since LaunchBox is not a preservation society or historical database, but a front-end meant to look nice, and these legal endings typically don't—and as mentioned can be difficult to find or reach a consensus on at times—I think it's better to just use the full official name but without any endings. So you would end up with simply "Square" as developer for almost all of these games, with "Square Soft", "Sony Computer Entertainment America" or "Square Electronic Arts" as the North American publisher depending on the game.

I understand the idea of the title of the game being as it is on the box, but that's the outward-facing display name of the entire product and is always going to be unique anyway. On the other hand the developer/publisher information in the case of the LaunchBox database is metadata to be utilized by the user and it makes no sense to restrict it to whatever way it may have been transcribed on some little copyright section/blurb on the box. Insisting on keeping multiple name variations for the same entity because they happened to be that way on the box would be the same as insisting that the max players metadata for a game be kept at 4 because that's what the box said, even if it was originally a mistake and the game objectively only supports 2 players. In other words completely unhelpful and if you're going to do it that way you may as well remove the field entirely because it serves no purpose.

Edited by Sylwahan
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The developer/publisher entities in the database seem to be little more than a unique name currently, but yes, if those were expanded you could add all the alternative naming variants under there if you wanted to.

Right now we have all these separate database entries for the same developer, Square, for example:

https://gamesdb.launchbox-app.com/developers/details/507

https://gamesdb.launchbox-app.com/developers/details/14

https://gamesdb.launchbox-app.com/developers/details/52

https://gamesdb.launchbox-app.com/developers/details/1042

Meaning if you wanted to sort or view games by this, you would only get a partial list of all the games depending on which naming variant you happened to check.

It's just dumb and unhelpful, and all of the above should be merged under a common name. I propose "Square" for simplicity. "Square Co., Ltd." could work as well if you wanted to go that route, but then for consistency you'd have to go and add "Ltd."s and "Co."s and "Inc."s pretty much everywhere else in the database as well. It might all become a bit cluttered, and I don't really see the point in keeping that detailed information for a game collection front-end.

Edited by Sylwahan
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Great timing on this thread, I came looking for exactly this topic after thinking I'd like to update some publisher names.  My thoughts:

  • Developer / Publisher name changes
    • I think that the developer name should strictly reflect their identity at the time of release
    • Publisher changing names ... I'm thinking that it's better to put both names in the publisher field ... are there real examples of changing publisher names that are significant?
  • Naming standards
    • I am leaning strongly towards not including "inc.", "ltd." "corp." etc legal classifications in company names.  They may (or may not!) be part of the legal company names, but they're not really a significant part of a company's identity.  I think this is also the way moby games entries tend to be done.  A game may be published by "Company X, Ltd." in one country, and "Company X, Inc." in another, in part because they may be separate legal entities.  But for the purposes of this database, I think it's far more useful to identify them simply as "Company X".
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  • 2 months later...

I think there needs to be something of a Branch Map that somewhat combines brand names into a Parent Category of brands that once were, and all the names they used to go by so people can easily group together all these various names as one. I think for ones that merged, you have them show up in both names they once were. Like BanDai NAMCO Entertainment can show up in both the BanDai group and the NAMCO group, but anything before their merger just stays as is. Like you won't have any 90s Power Rangers stuff in a NAMCO group or you won't have any TEKKEN stuff show up in the BanDai group at the time they were never Published or Developed as BanDai NAMCO Entertainment.

I also feel we need to have these names correctly set within the database as a dropdown selection so basically we no longer have any issues where someone names a Developer or Publisher the wrong way to where things are a mess to sort together too. If we ever come across a newer Developer or Publisher name, especially for something like an Indie Game then we can request it to be submitted and approved like we do with everything else.

I see were kinda are already doing that with Genres, so I'd like to see this maybe happen with other categories in the future to tidy things up better to historic accuracy because I believe LaunchBox is a great source to not only entertain, but also educate others of gaming history as well.

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