This is a tough article to write. To this point, I have been unbiased as possible on my views of the RETRO Video Game System, now the Coleco Chameleon. I am doing my best to keep it that way because articles from me, as one of the owners of RGM, are considered “RGM word”. Everyone else that writes for RGM are freelancers and their work is approved by me before publishing. I take great pride in making sure that what we present is entertaining, factual and timely. That is why it is so tough for me to write this one. It seems the situation with the Coleco Chameleon is only getting worse as we near the reveal at the New York Toy Fair in early 2016. Why is that? Read on.
First, I would like to thank Mr. Kennedy for taking the time to come back to the forums at AtariAge. He alluded to the dire situation there in his interview with Arstechnica (examined here on RGM). For him to return to that forum and discuss the Coleco Chameleon is the only bright spot I can see in this story. Best to get it out upfront, right?
First, the press release. After getting some major space with Kotaku, Gamespot and Verge to name a few, the press release has apparently “changed”. The one that those sites wrote their stories off of is this one:
The CURRENT press release, as it appears on RETROVGS.com/press, at the time of this writing, is this one:
Notice the additional information in the last paragraph there? Kind of makes Kotaku, Gamespot, etc look like the ones that can’t read. In fact, I believe that the PR firm that Mr. Kennedy hired did exactly what they were told to do. Mr. Kennedy first claims that the PR firm added the information “without his knowledge” as evidenced below (posting on the AtariAge forums as “Parrothead” and he is replying to my comment):
A little bit of information on myself here. I own a public relations company (used to operate under the name “Scenic 7 PR”). I have operated it since around 2009 and have worked with hundreds of clients over that period. I have written over 1,200 press releases personally. NOTHING went out until my client approved it. NOTHING. Mr. Kennedy laying this “mistake” at the feet of his PR firm is disheartening as you will see soon.
Here, Mr. Kennedy admits he saw, obviously approved, the addition to the press release prior to it being sent out.
This is pretty sad as it was just ONE PAGE prior, granted about 80 comments, that Mr. Kennedy was stating that he DID NOT know the wording of the press release had changed. Also, this brings up another concern, who posted the press release (in both forms) to the RETROVGS.com website? Is Mr. Kennedy not paying attention to what his company is doing publicly? The press release was changed AFTER the backlash from people like myself (detailed in my article “Coleco Chameleon, Coleco Holdings and the Real Coleco”). Yet, no one from Mr. Kennedy’s company, nor the PR firm that apparently acts on their own, can be bothered to contact any of those sites to request the articles be renamed, retractions be printed or any other kind of correction (evidence below):
This is puzzling as Mr. Kennedy reached out to me personally when I wrote the first article about the RETRO Video Game System (this one). In that article, which was based on his comment on NintendoAge forums (here) I stated that Konami, Sega and Namco were all mentioned by Mr. Kennedy in his post, as in talks or otherwise interested in developing for the RETRO Video Game System. This was back in February of this year. I took it upon myself, prior to being contacted by Mr. Kennedy, to contact those companies. I was met with denial of even knowing what I was talking about by all of them except one.
I was given a meeting over the phone (I am in Arkansas) with a representative from the public relations department for Konami. When I called I was alerted to the fact that someone from their licensing department was also available for the meeting. They admitted knowing who Mr. Kennedy was and having a cursory idea of what the RVGS was SUPPOSED to be. They also stated that there was NO official support for the console planned at that time and that all decisions would have to go through the Japan based headquarters. Hmmm, doesn’t sound like they were “in talks to bring classics franchises” such as Castlevania and Contra to the RETRO Video Game System, now does it?
Mr. Kennedy contacted me the following week, via e-mail, requesting I remove the names of the companies listed in my article. He edited the names out of his forum post as well. Being a trusting type, I did not screen cap any of this (as you can see, I have since changed quite a bit when dealing with this situation).
Now, ask yourself, why could Mr. Kennedy (who at the time did not have a PR firm available) could be bothered to ask me to change my article, but NOT do the same to Kotaku, Gamespot, etc? It surely couldn’t be because he felt that RGM was so big that we were going to affect that significant a number of people with our articles. It can’t be that he feels RGM is bigger than Kotaku, could it?
He contacted me to edit my article because I did something the others did not. I checked sources, followed leads and operated as a journalist should. I rocked the boat for Mr. Kennedy and his name dropping actions. If you are a fan of Retro Gamer, please pick up a copy of issue #148 which features an interview with Mr. Kennedy where he is back to name dropping the same companies that previously denied their support. Maybe things changed since I talked with them, it has been nearly a year after all. Considering Konami’s lack of interest in console gaming (Arstechnica link since Mr. Kennedy likes them), I seriously doubt they are going to take on the challenge of the Coleco Chameleon while turning their backs on Xbox and Playstation (who have MILLIONS of potential gamers to sell classic franchise releases to).
The biggest reason I believe Mr. Kennedy cannot be bothered, or bother his PR firm, to contact Kotaku and the others is they are bringing in a lot of press. The Coleco Chameleon NEEDS positive press to counter the severe amount of negative press the RVGS garnered. They NEED to bury the failed IndieGoGo campaign in Google, Bing and Yahoo search results- replacing it with, basically, flat out lies that can be “shed off” onto someone else as “they misread the press release.”
Interesting that Mr. Kennedy feels it is adequate that people are pointing out the fallacy of the article titles in the comments (in the picture above). I mean, we can’t have the truth cutoff those sweet clicks prematurely can we?
Interestingly now there is a working prototype that “isn’t costing [Mr. Kennedy] a lot of money and [he has] funded it [himself]”. It is laid at the feet of Mr. John Carlsen that the price of the RVGS got out of hand. As the project lead, founder of the company and supposedly final say on actions taken by that company, Mr. Kennedy sure does not have a firm grasp on what people he is paying are doing under his company name.
Now, RETRO Video Game Systems is posting on Facebook that they are meeting with the Senior Buyer for Toys R Us at the New York Toy Fair early next year. This is great news. The part I don’t believe is that it is coming from RVGS management (or whomever has control of their FB account):
I base my cynicism on the situation that I uncovered with Konami, Sega, Capcom and Namco (mentioned earlier in this article). I am not sure if that executive from Toys R Us is meeting with Coleco Holdings with the intent of discussing the Coleco Chameleon or not.
If you are to believe what Mr. Kennedy and his PR firm are wanting you to believe then why would Coleco Holdings have to “invite” the RETRO Video Game Systems team and the Coleco Chameleon “into their booth”? According to the articles that Mr. Kennedy cannot be bothered to request be corrected, nor correct on their official social media, they ARE Coleco. Rather weird. Maybe I am reading too much into that part, the many misleading articles and the whole situation here.
My current last comment on the AtariAge thread is asking Mr. Kennedy to please let me know who his PR firm is (I already know). It should be rather easy to let everyone know who he is working with to promote the Coleco Chameleon. I want to know so that others don’t someday hire them for anything they might need help with.
As usual, I will continue to follow this story as it “develops”. Ever ready with the print screen key, I will be.