Where EA Went Wrong

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Yes, Call of Duty is a huge seller. You know what else was huge? Minecraft. And in terms of profit margin, Minecraft might be the most profitable game in history. (It outsold Starcraft II by 3 million copies, while having a development budget of basically nothing.) I'm not saying EA should start funding Minecraft clones. (In fact, that would be no better or smarter than trying to make all games into Call of Duty.) I'm saying they should keep a wide portfolio of safe, reliable, low-cost titles so that if (or when) the modern shooter market changes or collapses they won't see their only source of revenue vanish. And in backing these other games, there's always the chance that one of them might become the Next Big Thing.

YES! Thank good! I really hope that more companies start listening to this. Innovation and trying new things is actually better for customers than the same crap over and over: if you innovate a game, it might fail, that's true. If you pump out crap that's been done before and better, there is a 100% chance that it will fail. We might yet see a little more innovation in this dying husk of the gaming industry.

Excellent points as always, Shamus.

EA is trying to make every game FIFA.

Suddenly, everything makes sense. I'm actually kinda disappointed in myself for not making the connection earlier. :/

You know, it's funny to think that I used to know of Shamus for his light-hearted comics and his goofy MMO Let's Plays. Now I pretty much exclusively look to him for commentary on story structure and the state of the gaming industry as a whole. Oh how things change in three years.

*cough*Immaleavethishere*cough*

I honestly don't have an issue with EA.
To me, EA is just a production company that produces some of my favourite games and is a logo on the box.

Origin is not a bad client in design. It has two flaws and they are:

1. Not enough games

Besides The Sims, Sim City, Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Battlefield, Plants vs Zombies etc. what exactly is on Origin? Nothing. Browsering their catalogue can be done in under five minutes. Seriously, looking for an episode of the X-Files to watch is more time consuming. There's not enough there to make you want to buy from it. You can get anything on Steam (minus EA games xD) which makes it appeal to more people.

2. Price

Origin discount sales are still very expensive!
If you compare the discount sales to Steam you wonder why you're even wasting your time. Steam can sell a franchise at Christmas for under 15. Origin will want 15 for the base game and that will be discounted.

I always thought EA was more or less doing the corporation sized version of 'living paycheck to paycheck'. It's not that they think that all games can be pumped out yearly, it's that they realize that pumping out an unfinished or shoddy product and cashing in, is faster and quicker money than putting more time and effort into a release. With their stock value in the toilet, all they can do is keep releasing games faster and faster trying to stay above water. I'm not even sure if they could spare the time to put more effort into their releases.

Lightknight:

Zachary Amaranth:
People are quick to take Gabe Newell at his word, despite no accountability.

Great, now please compare Valve's results with EA's.

You mean the guys who are kept honest by releasing material vs the guys we have no actual information on?

Yeah, that was kind of my point in the first place, but I don't mind repeating it.

EA is successful or not based on numbers that are reported regularly because they are a public company held accountable by law in their filings.

Valve is successful or not based on Gabe's word alone, and people believe him because...Well, because ponies.

I was pretty impressed with your article last week because the usual commentary about EA runs along the lines of how it needs to die in order to bring about an age where games will finally be good. It's refreshing to see that absent in your writings. Not that I'm a huge fan of EA, but it's nice to see stuff that isn't hyperbole.

Nice read Shamus, good to have you back in action. I have to say that EA's greatest problem, in my opinion, is its inability to grasp the fact that multiplayer isn't what everyone wants...

Imagine if Mass Effect 3 had been in development for just one more year, probably could've avoided the shit storm.

I pity EA. They keep trying, and it keeps blowing up in their faces because they don't learn the right lessons from their (and other companies') mistakes. I've never hated them, but just feel so sorry for them. I still buy their games, when they're ones that I like, but yeah, everything in this article seems spot-on to me.

Shamus Young:
1. Failing to understand different game markets

Have you ever noticed how some people are just really, really offended by the idea that EA sells new copies of FIFA and Madden every year with little more than a roster update? Do you know who doesn't mind this? People who buy FIFA and Madden games.

This shows a pretty clear difference in what these fans expect from their favorite titles. BioWare RPG fans don't want yearly releases that amount to an oversized mission pack. The Dead Space Necromorphs can wear out their welcome quickly, and playing a new Dead Space game every year would just burn out the franchise entirely. Yet EA is pushing for shorter release schedules on these action games because yearly release works well for sports games.

Mass Effect probably took three or four years to develop under the then-independent BioWare. Mass Effect 2 took three years. Mass Effect 3 took just two years. Dragon Age 2 was rumored to have been in development for less than a year. I'm sure you can remember the controversies and player frustrations that surrounded these latter two games. While shorter development cycles are crucial for sports games, they're actually harmful for other kinds of games, and the publisher's failure to understand this has damaged the names of good developers and (formerly) successful franchises.

This has been EA's modus operandi, and chief Cardinal Sin since the late 90s.

For years, I could not figure out why every EA game I play felt "shoddy", especially more the deeper into most franchises; starting with the Command & Conquer series. It was after playing Hellgate: London, and hearing about the class action lawsuit levied against EA by their own employees for labor violations. That's when it became more clear what was going on.

And everything I have learned and seen since only reinforces this.
Ultima 8 & 9, the C&C series, Hellgate: London, Mass Effect 2&3 (the ending), most recently Dead Space 3 and SimCity.
I have no doubt there are many other examples, but of what I've played.

It's the exploitation of franchises. Blunt force, rushed, ham-fisted exploitation, and this model works fine for iterative sports games whose assets and gameplay don't really change so content development is, but it does not work for everything. Small wonder they're trying to ape Call of Duty; Activision is doing exactly that.

I wish the EA board of directors would read this stuff, heck even watch some of MR Sterling's vids. But alas, i fear we are going to continue to see all out beloved titled turned into gritty, dark shooters.

COMING NEXT FALL - Simcity: Black ops! Control your own sim in a brand new FIRST PERSON view. Defeat your enemies, upgrade your weapons and play with your friends online! GLORY FOR NOD!

...Though, with the mess they already made with simcity it might be an improvement o_O

Ickabod:
There was a company that devoted themselves to only building SUV's, they were called GM. Then they went bankrupt and the US government had to bail them out.

GM made a lot of other cars too. I own one of them, a Saturn SL. It has been a pretty good car, no major work so far.

In any case I don't even deal with EA anymore, I don't purchase their games. Too many good games already out that I don't have time to play to bother with a company like EA and their products.

EA's problem is that it's run by businessmen whose only concern is finding a profitable low-risk high-return option to invest in. They look at the market and their competitors, see what's selling and try to ape it. So EA saw the success of shooters like COD and Gears of War and immediately thought,"Heck shooters sell good, lets make some shooters." So EA rebooted some franchises (disastrously in the case of Syndicate and MOH:Warfighter) and even tried shooterizing a current IP with DEADSPACE-i-need-to-sell-5-million-THREE. Long story short, they all bombed. See EA does not and will not understand the games the make cause they want to maximize profit and reduce cost/risk. Problem is that creativity requires taking risks, something that runs counter to the businessmen mindset of EA's board. Yes I am aware that people make games to sell and make a profit. But if you don't take risks and keep trying to play safe in a market already saturated and dominated by your competitors, your 'safe' bets aren't going to win.

AntiChri5:
Mass Effect 2 had much more content then ME1.

With all the DLC that took a couple of years to release maybe.
Otherwise IMO it had LESS content, but that content was dragged out more 'cause the combat was actually slower, and around every corner, thanks to the annoying cover mechanics. My first playthrough of ME2 DID take an extra 20 hours or so, but that time was seriously spent in combat, waiting for enemies to pop over walls, or in loading screens waiting for either a level or the freaking armoury to load, whereas that was a lot faster in ME1.
Just one of the many things that left me slightly disappointed in ME2. Still a fairly playable game though thankfully, especially once you get good at the combat and can shave 50 hours off your play time.

OT: Yep, agree with pretty much everything you've said. EA does still create some of the niche titles [See Sim City], but it does stupid things with them like Always Online DRM, and it doesn't make enough of them to support its other games. Hopefully EA get their act together as I remember the day I liked EA as a company and enjoyed their games. These days... I'm not sure what to get out of the 8 free games they're offering me 'cause they all seem kinda shit =/

IronMit:
I agree with everything here...but then I look at Assassins Creed's yearly release and am truly confused at how they get away with it. Maybe because there's nothing else like it...whilst EA try to emulate other existing successes (sometimes steering existing franchises into something they were not intended to be). ie. WOW alternative, gears of war alternative, COD alternative.

Exactly, Assassin's Creed doesn't try to emulate an existing trend. Assassin's Creed doesn't fuck around with crappy micro transactions, and it's multiplayer mode is actually fairly innovative and fits the franchise. Oh, and the fact that it's not getting turned into an amorphous shooter helps.

Going back on-topic, I know a little of EA's workplace policy from a friend who used to work as a beta-tester (and yes, he worked for EA, not some 3rd party company). They would routinely fire low-level employees just before they completed 1 year with the company (because after the 1st year they would have to give some extra benefits, more money, etc) and then offer to hire them back about a month later. This is standard policy for that office, taking advantage of young, inexperienced employees that more often than not will take the job again because they would be hard pressed to find something similar.

This basically means that despite working for the company for several years, people get no official work experience, no benefits and no bonuses that would normally (and legally) come with seniority.

Whelp, that does it. The content of this article has killed about 90 percent of the EA threads. Post this in the thread and the discussion is over, because everything that needs to be said by Shamus.

Well done, sir! Looking forward to your next one.

MPerce:
Whelp, that does it. The content of this article has killed about 90 percent of the EA threads. Post this in the thread and the discussion is over, because everything that needs to be said by Shamus.

Well done, sir! Looking forward to your next one.

But... He didnt even address EAs habit of blatantly lying to consumers.

That is one of the most important things and he didnt even touch on it.

Joccaren:

AntiChri5:
Mass Effect 2 had much more content then ME1.

With all the DLC that took a couple of years to release maybe.
Otherwise IMO it had LESS content, but that content was dragged out more 'cause the combat was actually slower, and around every corner, thanks to the annoying cover mechanics. My first playthrough of ME2 DID take an extra 20 hours or so, but that time was seriously spent in combat, waiting for enemies to pop over walls, or in loading screens waiting for either a level or the freaking armoury to load, whereas that was a lot faster in ME1.
Just one of the many things that left me slightly disappointed in ME2. Still a fairly playable game though thankfully, especially once you get good at the combat and can shave 50 hours off your play time.

OT: Yep, agree with pretty much everything you've said. EA does still create some of the niche titles [See Sim City], but it does stupid things with them like Always Online DRM, and it doesn't make enough of them to support its other games. Hopefully EA get their act together as I remember the day I liked EA as a company and enjoyed their games. These days... I'm not sure what to get out of the 8 free games they're offering me 'cause they all seem kinda shit =/

When i try to think of the game with the cheapest, most blatant padding i have ever played ME1 comes to mind. After i got sick of clearing out the same bases filled with the same enemies over and over, on the same world just painted a different color i decided to do a few playthroughs of ME1 wihout doing sidequests.

ME1 With sidequests took me on average about 20 hours. ME1 without sidequests takes me 5.

ME2 generally takes me over 40 hours (and i have finished an Insanity NG+ with every class more then once, so the gameplay doesn't slow me down). I am not going to try to distinguish what is and isn't a sidequest in ME2, since they blurred the lines on that.

IronMit:
I agree with everything here...but then I look at Assassins Creed's yearly release and am truly confused at how they get away with it.

Everyone I know, including myself, is fucking sick of it. Assassin's Creed 3 sold incredibly well (although didn't exactly get a stellar reception from what I've seen), but Revelations did not at all from what I remember (relative to the rest of the series and what you'd expect from a 'AAA' game). And I assume that's because people were getting bored of it too and have just decided to stick to numbered releases, or because it finally promised to end Desmond's bidniz.

AntiChri5:
When i try to think of the game with the cheapest, most blatant padding i have ever played ME1 comes to mind. After i got sick of clearing out the same bases filled with the same enemies over and over, on the same world just painted a different color i decided to do a few playthroughs of ME1 wihout doing sidequests.

ME1 With sidequests took me on average about 20 hours. ME1 without sidequests takes me 5.

ME2 generally takes me over 40 hours (and i have finished an Insanity NG+ with every class more then once, so the gameplay doesn't slow me down). I am not going to try to distinguish what is and isn't a sidequest in ME2, since they blurred the lines on that.

Eh, it takes me about the same amount of time for both, and both have a fair amount of padding. ME1's tends to get picked on a little more because... I don't know to be honest.
As much as the re-used rooms were annoying, they did have different feels sometimes, and often had more atmosphere than a lot of ME2 side missions IMO as well. For example, the lost ship with all the Husks everywhere, or the one with the brain-dead guy and his crazy girlfriend.
It takes me about the same amount of time to finish both games when I do everything in them. Gameplay doesn't slow me down much in ME2, thanks to it being rediculously easy, but it does slow me down more than ME1s combat thanks to the rediculous reliance on cover in ME2. In ME1 combat only took me a lot of time 'cause I'd jump out of the Mako to fight a Geth Colossus for the extra XP. In ME2 I have to start every battle by sitting in cover for 5 seconds, then kill 2-3 enemies, back in cover for another 5 seconds - unless I'm playing on easy-normal with the Vanguard and can just charge spam enemies. Additionally ME2 has that terrible padding known as planet scanning. Most boring thing ever invented, honestly should have just kept the ME1 system IMO; planets with things on them that you don't explore just give you those items upon a survey, other planets you can explore and they always have a mission on them.

Going into the more technical side of things, both ME1 and ME2 have about the same install size. ME2 obviously has the higher resolution textures, which take up more of its install size and thus make up a larger portion of its content. On the flipside, however, a large portion of that extra space likely would have come from the planets you could explore, many of which were largely just empty space [Though every planet had a minimum of 6 things to find on it in total if memory serves, and a number of easter eggs on many planets too].
A quick online search reveals that both ME1 and ME2 had a total of 73 quests of varying types and importance in each. IMO the quests in Mass Effect 1 were longer - less effort was spent on making the level highly detailed and distinct, and more was put into the level itself - which is rather apparent in the design side of things too, as most of ME2s missions were simply "Shoot until you reach the end", whilst in the ME1 missions there were, at times, other ways through things using less violent means.

Really, they're both about equal in how much content they have, IMO ME1 felt like it had more whilst ME2 relied too much on its slow ass combat, planet scanning and system "Exploration" and such for length, as opposed to non-linear or longer levels.

Jeez, we need some gamers running the industry. I'm sure the CEOs and the board of directors and whatnot are talented and educated people, but sometimes you need a different perspective to not run an industry into the ground.

I don't know, you just spent a lot of words describing how EA doesn't understand the market and then arrive to the conclusion that their leadership is not stupid?
My problem is that what you described isn't really a mystery. Everyone should see this but yet we continue to set fire to our favorite franchises and there doesn't seem to be any end to it.

Does make me more interested in next week's article.

Zachary Amaranth:
You mean the guys who are kept honest by releasing material vs the guys we have no actual information on?

Yeah, that was kind of my point in the first place, but I don't mind repeating it.

EA is successful or not based on numbers that are reported regularly because they are a public company held accountable by law in their filings.

Valve is successful or not based on Gabe's word alone, and people believe him because...Well, because ponies.

? Huh? Valve is successful because they release wildly popular games (we can know they're popular from other sources like Metacritic and we don't require exact figures to know they made a mint) and a customer centered services that is so good that DRM opponents actually make an exception for it. Do you honestly believe that reporting the exact degree of success or failure impacts said successes or failures? That would be parodoxical at best.

Do you have any specific example of anything that would make this point valid? Is there something they've done that we all think was a success that you believe was secretly a failure?

Like, "Gabe said portal 2 sold well, but who knows" or what? Because we know it did well from other data sources. Amazon and the NDP Group data numerically proved it was successful as one of the biggest sellers at the time and that was entirely without Steam data. We're not dumb, we know if something is a flop even if the developer doesn't give us figures. It seems pretty obvious that the opinion of the two companies is pretty drastically different and for reasons that can be pointed to. Valve doesn't really have failures that we can point at and say, "Yeah, that was a huge mistake" but EA has them every week it seems. Hence their CEO finally stepping down for what I assume will be another failure waiting to happen (ball is in his court, though). It isn't even a matter of public reporting. SimCity 5 did not work for a long time and it was public knowledge. EA saying it wasn't working didn't change that fact. So I'm not sure what point you're getting at here.

Been saying this for a while now:

CEO's are good at making money, not games, & they're trying to make money with games. Publicly traded companies like fast answers & big promises, so they put CEO's that reflect that in charge. This could be a good idea for a typical company, but not for a game publisher. The people at the helm aren't gamers, they don't know what makes a good game, nor do they understand gamers as a group/culture; this is problematic in that this is your product & these are your customers
I'm sure John Riccitiello is a very smart & successful man, but he's not a gamer.

Zombie_Moogle:
Been saying this for a while now:

CEO's are good at making money, not games, & they're trying to make money with games. Publicly traded companies like fast answers & big promises, so they put CEO's that reflect that in charge. This could be a good idea for a typical company, but not for a game publisher. The people at the helm aren't gamers, they don't know what makes a good game, nor do they understand gamers as a group/culture; this is problematic in that this is your product & these are your customers

This is the perfect point. Management in large corporations aren't really about the product they're selling. So you can easily get into a situation where the CEO currently employed knows nothing about the product.

Let's look at John Riccitiello for example, these are the companies he has worked for that aren't EA:

The Clorox Company
PepsiCo
Haagen-Dazs
Wilson Sporting Goods
Sara Lee Corporation

Only after those did he go to EA as a COO and then left to found Elevation Partners only to be rehired by EA two years later as the CEO in 2007. What do ANY of the companies before EA have to do with games? At least Elevation Partners was about Intellectual Properties and did touch the gaming industry here and there. But this is an investment firm, not a firm that actually manages the product. These are companies that puts best practices into place to make companies more streamlined and then resell them or to just invest in companies they feel have a strong future (they sold BioWare and Pandemic Studios to EA the same year EA hired John as CEO... shady?).

Anyways, there can be significant problems when managers who know nothing of the product they're making are put in charge of making decisions for that product. When someone higher up pokes their nose where it doesn't belong there's nothing you can say or do about it because they're your boss. "You want me to make a game about portals and cake being a lie? Yes sir, anything you say boss, just please don't hit me or fire me..."

I'm sure John Riccitiello is a very smart & successful man, but he's not a gamer.

And he's about to not be a CEO either: http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2013/03/18/electronic-arts-ceo-john-riccitiello-to-step-down/

Thank you for writing this article. So much stuff I've been thinking about for a while now, put into coherent form. Especially point #3 seems such a no-brainer.

When you have all these resources at your disposal, why wouldn't you also use part of them to finance a wide range of low-budget niche products, instead of putting all your money-eggs into one blockbuster-basket? I don't get it.

I don't disagree with anything you've said, Shamus....But I have 5 tabs of your linked articles open & I was supposed to be in bed half an hour ago.

Joccaren:

AntiChri5:
When i try to think of the game with the cheapest, most blatant padding i have ever played ME1 comes to mind. After i got sick of clearing out the same bases filled with the same enemies over and over, on the same world just painted a different color i decided to do a few playthroughs of ME1 wihout doing sidequests.

ME1 With sidequests took me on average about 20 hours. ME1 without sidequests takes me 5.

ME2 generally takes me over 40 hours (and i have finished an Insanity NG+ with every class more then once, so the gameplay doesn't slow me down). I am not going to try to distinguish what is and isn't a sidequest in ME2, since they blurred the lines on that.

Eh, it takes me about the same amount of time for both, and both have a fair amount of padding. ME1's tends to get picked on a little more because... I don't know to be honest.
As much as the re-used rooms were annoying, they did have different feels sometimes, and often had more atmosphere than a lot of ME2 side missions IMO as well. For example, the lost ship with all the Husks everywhere, or the one with the brain-dead guy and his crazy girlfriend.
It takes me about the same amount of time to finish both games when I do everything in them. Gameplay doesn't slow me down much in ME2, thanks to it being rediculously easy, but it does slow me down more than ME1s combat thanks to the rediculous reliance on cover in ME2. In ME1 combat only took me a lot of time 'cause I'd jump out of the Mako to fight a Geth Colossus for the extra XP. In ME2 I have to start every battle by sitting in cover for 5 seconds, then kill 2-3 enemies, back in cover for another 5 seconds - unless I'm playing on easy-normal with the Vanguard and can just charge spam enemies. Additionally ME2 has that terrible padding known as planet scanning. Most boring thing ever invented, honestly should have just kept the ME1 system IMO; planets with things on them that you don't explore just give you those items upon a survey, other planets you can explore and they always have a mission on them.

Going into the more technical side of things, both ME1 and ME2 have about the same install size. ME2 obviously has the higher resolution textures, which take up more of its install size and thus make up a larger portion of its content. On the flipside, however, a large portion of that extra space likely would have come from the planets you could explore, many of which were largely just empty space [Though every planet had a minimum of 6 things to find on it in total if memory serves, and a number of easter eggs on many planets too].
A quick online search reveals that both ME1 and ME2 had a total of 73 quests of varying types and importance in each. IMO the quests in Mass Effect 1 were longer - less effort was spent on making the level highly detailed and distinct, and more was put into the level itself - which is rather apparent in the design side of things too, as most of ME2s missions were simply "Shoot until you reach the end", whilst in the ME1 missions there were, at times, other ways through things using less violent means.

Really, they're both about equal in how much content they have, IMO ME1 felt like it had more whilst ME2 relied too much on its slow ass combat, planet scanning and system "Exploration" and such for length, as opposed to non-linear or longer levels.

On the Xbox, Mass Effect comes on one disc. Mass Effect 2 comes on two. Better textures can't account for enough of a difference that the game needed to be halved and put on separate discs. Mass Effect 2 simply has much more content. ME1's padding was picked on more for a very good reason. It was mostly "exploring" planets that had next to nothing to find and the same feel and geography. I love exploring in games. I have about 900 hours in Skyrim, from just wandering from place to place and looking in every nook and cranny. Same for Morrowind and Oblivion. But in Mass Effect? Identical locations, identical enemies, almost nothing to discover, what little there is to discover is usually fairly identical as well.

Areas in ME1 had atmosphere in one way, from the direct narrative, while areas in ME2 had atmosphere drawing from both narrative and area design.

If you think gameplay in ME2 is ridiculously easy, you need to do an Adept Insanity NG+ playthrough. Planet scanning was a massive and obnoxious pain in the ass, but didn't actually take that long. It is about three hours per playthrough.

AntiChri5:
On the Xbox, Mass Effect comes on one disc. Mass Effect 2 comes on two. Better textures can't account for enough of a difference that the game needed to be halved and put on separate discs.

You would be surprised. Textures and models take up the majority of a lot of games' space. Case in point, my Skyrim folder:
18Gb.
4.5Gb of that is in the game's default textures, models and voice acting.
1Gb of it is in the game's default sounds other than voice acting.
3Gb is in the assortment of models, textures, sounds, animations and such for the expansions.
9Gb is in texture mods and model changing mods.
That leaves around 2Gb unaccounted for, most of which goes into the assortment of other assets for the game or mods. The entire world of Skyrim, every chunk or W/E and the placement of items in it, comes to a grand total of 250Mb. That 250Mb also includes the data on every creature, trigger, building - basically everything in the game outside of the textures, models, animations, sounds shaders and interface. The rest of the code not found in this folder totals to 100Mb.
Even in the default game, without the high-res patch, 350Mb is the game, 4.5Gb is in models, textures and voices. I suspect you'd find the same thing for Mass Effect. Textures aren't small in size, they're some of the larger files you'll find next to pre-rendered cutscenes.
After checking the folders on my install, the binaries for both games are 34.6Mb for Mass Effect one, and 25.7Mb for Mass Effect 2. Mass Effect 2, however, comes with 2.52Gb of movies. Without the DLC the Mass Effect 2 folder contains 2Gb more data overall than Mass Effect 1, with 2.52Gb of that being in movies - which conveniently the Mass Effect 1 folder does not contain. Remove the movies [Which I'd guess to be the Lazarus Project cutscene, the battle for the Collector Base, and other things like that] and its half a Gb less of data. I'm not going to bother trying to find out where all that is, but odds are that half a Gb was the planets in ME1.

Mass Effect 2 simply has much more content. ME1's padding was picked on more for a very good reason. It was mostly "exploring" planets that had next to nothing to find and the same feel and geography. I love exploring in games. I have about 900 hours in Skyrim, from just wandering from place to place and looking in every nook and cranny. Same for Morrowind and Oblivion. But in Mass Effect? Identical locations, identical enemies, almost nothing to discover, what little there is to discover is usually fairly identical as well.

I heartily disagree. They have the same number of quests in total. The quests in ME2 are shorter [IMO], and just contain prettier environments. Also find it amusing that you don't think Skyrim is filled with the same terrain, same dungeons, same enemies over and over. Its one of the things I hated about the game. ME1 at least had good writing for a lot of them that made them interesting despite being the same thing over and over, Skyrim rarely ever had context to a dungeon other than "Its here, loot it", and after 50 Nord ruins, 50 Dwemer Ruins, 50 caves, 10 castles - ect. - I had seen everything repeated over and over so many times it wasn't funny. Just got mind numbingly dull after a while.

Areas in ME1 had atmosphere in one way, from the direct narrative, while areas in ME2 had atmosphere drawing from both narrative and area design.

Places like Feros, Noveria, Virmire and the Citadel also had the area design atmosphere. The areas they didn't have the time and funding to put effort into I'll agree had little beyond the quality of writing for them, but funny thing that I prefer the quality of writing to a more visibly diverse level. The heavier action focus in ME2, and the often less interesting context to places, left me feeling not as interested in its levels. The ones where you get new Squadmates are good, but otherwise... Nothing. The collectors were too much of a joke to take seriously, and most of the N7 missions consisted of "There are enemies of Cerberus here, kill them" - and that was the end of your context. Sure an agent, or a supply cache might have been thrown in there sometimes, but rarely. Probably the most atmospheric side mission in ME2 was the one with the destroyed station that had a rogue AI, the others were all rather lacklustre.

If you think gameplay in ME2 is ridiculously easy, you need to do an Adept Insanity NG+ playthrough. Planet scanning was a massive and obnoxious pain in the ass, but didn't actually take that long. It is about three hours per playthrough.

Still ridiculously easy. Only time its a challenge is when I get bored and decide to do something stupid to make it interesting. It doesn't make the game harder, it just slows it down a lot - and then once you get singularity it can actually speed up a bit 'cause you can pick enemies up [If their shields/barriers/armour is down] and not have to worry about ducking to cover every few shots.
Mass Effect 2 doesn't have hard gameplay. It has tedious gameplay, but there is nothing challenging about it.

MrHide-Patten:
Imagine if Mass Effect 3 had been in development for just one more year, probably could've avoided the shit storm.

I assume you're referring to the ending? There was nothing really wrong with the ending. Most people who misunderstood the ending or thought it may have been rushed or full of plot holes were taking it at face value. During the ending sequence there is a bunch of clues littered throughout the final 20 minutes of the game and if people pick up on it, the ending makes perfect sense and is actually quite brilliant.

It does require a bit of thought as well as digging through codex entries as well as possibly looking back into previous games, because there are clues there as well.

Here is an article that may help to explain some things.

I don't know, I just think with Mass Effect 3, people may have set their hopes too high, with it being the end of the trilogy, and when the game didn't meet some people's expectations, they were disappointed.

I was going to point out Mass Effect 1 actually started development in 2005, according to the Final Hours App.

Lightknight:

Like, "Gabe said portal 2 sold well, but who knows" or what? Because we know it did well from other data sources. Amazon and the NDP Group data numerically proved it was successful as one of the biggest sellers at the time and that was entirely without Steam data.

Except that doesn't speak o the success of Valve overall, and Amazon and NDP are poor sources of information here.

It's like you're deliberately trying to miss my point by arguing something very, very different.

But, going by your logic, " Mass Effect 3 sold really really well, so we can safely assume that EA is doing well, too!"

It breaks down when applied by basically anyone to anything logical. Sorry.

Zachary Amaranth:

Lightknight:

Like, "Gabe said portal 2 sold well, but who knows" or what? Because we know it did well from other data sources. Amazon and the NDP Group data numerically proved it was successful as one of the biggest sellers at the time and that was entirely without Steam data.

Except that doesn't speak o the success of Valve overall, and Amazon and NDP are poor sources of information here.

It's like you're deliberately trying to miss my point by arguing something very, very different.

But, going by your logic, " Mass Effect 3 sold really really well, so we can safely assume that EA is doing well, too!"

It breaks down when applied by basically anyone to anything logical. Sorry.

Except that's not what he's arguing at all.

Lightknight:
? Huh? Valve is successful because they release wildly popular games (we can know they're popular from other sources like Metacritic and we don't require exact figures to know they made a mint) and a customer centered services that is so good that DRM opponents actually make an exception for it. Do you honestly believe that reporting the exact degree of success or failure impacts said successes or failures? That would be parodoxical at best.

Do you have any specific example of anything that would make this point valid? Is there something they've done that we all think was a success that you believe was secretly a failure?

Like, "Gabe said portal 2 sold well, but who knows" or what? Because we know it did well from other data sources. Amazon and the NDP Group data numerically proved it was successful as one of the biggest sellers at the time and that was entirely without Steam data. We're not dumb, we know if something is a flop even if the developer doesn't give us figures. It seems pretty obvious that the opinion of the two companies is pretty drastically different and for reasons that can be pointed to. Valve doesn't really have failures that we can point at and say, "Yeah, that was a huge mistake" but EA has them every week it seems. Hence their CEO finally stepping down for what I assume will be another failure waiting to happen (ball is in his court, though). It isn't even a matter of public reporting. SimCity 5 did not work for a long time and it was public knowledge. EA saying it wasn't working didn't change that fact. So I'm not sure what point you're getting at here.

That's what he's trying to get at, and you deliberately chopping up his arguments into tiny pieces and hope no one notices is just silly. Actually respond to his arguments or no one will take you seriously.

Zachary Amaranth:

Lightknight:

Like, "Gabe said portal 2 sold well, but who knows" or what? Because we know it did well from other data sources. Amazon and the NDP Group data numerically proved it was successful as one of the biggest sellers at the time and that was entirely without Steam data.

Except that doesn't speak o the success of Valve overall, and Amazon and NDP are poor sources of information here.

It's like you're deliberately trying to miss my point by arguing something very, very different.

But, going by your logic, " Mass Effect 3 sold really really well, so we can safely assume that EA is doing well, too!"

It breaks down when applied by basically anyone to anything logical. Sorry.

Don't be like that, man. Offer a response t his actual argument, don't nitpick his post and make it about something else.

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