Let me respond to a few of the points there:
(1) “Based on the twelve focus groups conducted worldwide, the primary weakness of the game is the storyline, which is considered unoriginal, childish, and overly complex.”
Actually, they were probably dead-on. Psychonauts was good, but nobody played it because the plot was so amazing. In addition to erratic pacing, the game just kinda meaders around, and nearly half the game is just Raz wandering about doing “psychic stuff”. Because you rarely revisit anything (and never need to in the entire game), the plot as such is pretty random and complex. Several characters just show up as convenient because the plot says so, and nobody has terribly complex personalities or motives. Certainly on paper, the game doesn’t really sound like a winner, and from playing it I can definitely say that the first 2-3 hours and finale were confusing, as I had very little idea what the hell was going on. Stuff just happened without much explanation, and it wasn’t really necessary. Point = Marketing.
This is actually probably true. The big issue is that Psychonauts looks like a relatively kiddy game, but it has a depth of humor that kids probably aren’t going to “get” and requires affair amount of work to master the controls and options. Hence why it’s a memorable but not really “great” game and hasn’t really influenced the biz - it’s too divided to have wide appeal. That kind of weird mixing is often common in cult classics in various genres, but it’s not really a good thing.
In cases like these, it’s often a good plan to cover one’s bases with some more basic humor that can work a mass-market approach. You don’t have to eliminate the more subtle stuff - Looney Toons got away with some pretty subtle (and even raunchy) jokes for decades because they had basic humorous elements. So I’d say the Marketing was spot on here.
(3) “To help international appeal, limit game components that feel especially Americanized, i.e. summer camp.”
Here is think the marketing made a significant mistake. While Summer Camp is pretty American, it’s not like the concept is totally alien in a pretty wide swath of the world. Had the team covered Point (1) well, I think this wouldn’t have been a big issue.
More to the point, let me basically point out that Tim Shafer’s resume hasn’t been exactly burning up either the sales charts or the critical lists lately. He still clearly has talent, but he also hasn’t been doing innovative work. He may have enough talent (as well as lot of connections and a well-known name) to get away with that. But frankly, other people like employees and so forth would probably rather make large wads of cash, because they don’t have six billion nostalgic fans waiting to kickstart their vanity projects.