No Souls Were Sold: An Insider Perspective on EA's BioWare

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Posted 3:28pm on Fri 9 March 2012
VG_Staff
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No Souls Were Sold: An Insider Perspective on EA's BioWare
Did BioWare change when the studio was bought by publishing giant Electronic Arts?

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Posted 3:28pm on Fri 9 March 2012
FantasyMeister
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Did BioWare change when the studio was bought by publishing giant Electronic Arts?

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Brilliant article, thank you! I think EA are coming up to 30 years in the business as of May 28th 2012 and they've come a long way since Trip Hawkins founded the company.

Little known fact about the CEO of EA - he's a gamer too!
Posted 4:52pm on Fri 9 March 2012
Clockpunk
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Did BioWare change when the studio was bought by publishing giant Electronic Arts?

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What an interesting read. However, I don't think EA are entirely as hands-off as suggested in the piece - one only need look at the 'seasons pass' of ME2 and the multiplayer component of ME3 for evidence of that.

At the end of the day, so long as they games they put out are fun and engaging, surely that is what matters? Yes, current franchises might be different than earlier titles, such as KotOR 1 and 2, but that is an entirely separate debate.
Posted 12:35am on Sat 10 March 2012
Bercilak
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Did BioWare change when the studio was bought by publishing giant Electronic Arts?

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It seems pretty clear to me that EA has changed--and continues to change--Bioware.

1. After EA acquired Bioware, Bioware implemented EA's "Project Ten Dollar" where they provided day one DLC for free to people who bought the standard edition of the game new, but they sold the same DLC for $10 to make it available to people who bought the game used. Presumably, it was intended to help recoup some of the losses they realized because people bought their games second-hand. Fair enough.

2. "Project Ten Dollar" (not so quietly) went away. Now, when people buy the new standard edition of a Bioware game, they no longer get day one DLC included, but have to pay extra for it (recall that people who bought a new standard edition of Dragon Age got the DLC free). With Bioware's newest game, Mass Effect 3, if people want the DLC included with the game, they have to buy the Collectors' Edition, which is $20 more than the standard one. I predict that Bioware games will never again include day one DLC with the standard edition of a game. And before EA acquired Bioware, they never released any day one DLC.

3. Bioware released an incredibly buggy and subpar expansion pack for Dragon Age, Awakenings. It was clear that this expansion was released without having the quality control that it needed. This implies that it was pushed out the door before it was ready in order to capitalize on the sales success of Dragon Age.

4. Bioware released Dragon Age 2, which also proved buggy and often contained the exact same environments throughout the game. According to the article, lead designer Mike Laidlaw said that the reason for this was "to expand content". The length of Dragon Age 2 doesn't support his statement; it's shorter than the first game. More likely, environments were reused to shorten production times in order to meet an externally imposed deadline. As Fedor says in the article:

"I guess I could lament the pressures of delivering a product within a certain fiscal quarter, but delivering a product on time and on budget is just good business. If the schedule is hampering the quality of the product, then it was as much our fault for not planning timeline and budget effectively enough. So it sucks, but it's not something I could exclusively blame EA for."

Yes, delivering a product on time IS good business--if the product is of sufficiently high quality and you get to decide when "on time" actually is. Bioware no longer does either. As a wholly owned subsidiary of EA, EA dictates release dates, mandates the use of its own QA standards and ultimately determines if a game is "good enough" to release in a particular fiscal quarter. The sloppiness of DA: Awakenings and DA2 seem to show that pretty clearly when these games are compared to pre-EA Bioware releases.

5. I could add more but real life intrudes so I'll end with a final point on why Bioware games suffered after they were acquired by EA: look at the picture of John Riccitello on page 2 of the article.

Would YOU buy a used car from this man?
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