EA Closes BioWare San Francisco - UPDATED

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EA Closes BioWare San Francisco - UPDATED

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The studio was apparently "too expensive" to keep afloat.

BioWare San Francisco, best known for developing 2D casual games based on existing EA franchises, has been closed down. The closure will reportedly result in the layoffs of 25 to 30 employees.

Formerly known as EA2D, BioWare San Francisco developed the browser-based Mirror's Edge 2D and Dragon Age Legends, as well as The Fancy Pants Adventures and AWOL. Dragon Age Legends was closed down in May 2012 because of declining participation.

The studio was given the BioWare moniker in August 2011. EA hasn't yet commented on the reasons for the closure but sources say the Redwood Shores, CA region is "too expensive" for mobile game development.

It's been a rough year so far for EA and it's employees: In February, EA shut down Visceral Montreal and laid off employees in Los Angeles as well.

Source: GamesRadar

UPDATE: In response to inquiries, Electronic Arts said EA Labels President Frank Gibeau addressed the issue a couple of weeks ago in the blog post entitled "Transition Is Our Friend," and that it had no further comment to make on individual studio or headcount reductions.

Permalink

oO, I read the title and assumed the worst. But I hate all these sub studios sharing the same name as their parents. If they close down it makes it seems that the parent is also closing down on first glance.

Wait, they made Fancy Pants Adventures?!

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is what you call consolidating boys and girls. No more browser based games, no more action pretending to be horror, and no more Medal of Honor. Now we just have to wait until that Mass Effect spin-off fails to set the world on fire, and we can kiss the real Bioware goodbye as well.

It's all Bioware San Francisco's fault for not selling eleventy billion copies like EA expected.

DVS BSTrD:
This is what you call consolidating boys and girls. No more browser based games, no more action pretending to be horror, and no more Medal of Honor. Now we just have to wait until that Mass Effect spin-off fails to set the world on fire, and we can kiss the real Bioware goodbye as well.

This, I have a feeling in my gut that there is going to be a big shift in the industry soon (though that may just be indigestion). EA games failing to meet sales goals time and time again this last release season, the boom of indie games that made a ton of money despite a budget that was only a fraction of what AAA developers spend, and the overall meh attitude towards the PS4 announcement.

I feel like big changes are going to happen soon, for better or worse I'm not sure yet.

EA seems to be crumbling. This is good news.

Bad news is that they will take down a lot of talent with it. Cut yourselves loose developers! Bioware, get out now!

DICE? Meh, you can go down for all I care, unless you're willing to keep Mirror's Edge afloat.

Dooom! DOOOOOOOM!

Don't really feel too strongly about it, but I thought it'd be a good usage of that.

Still, though, it's the first BioWare studio closing. Even if the studio was affiliated in name only. Of course the same could, arguably, be said of the other studios.

Ah, well. As Einstein put it: "Time will tell."

Church185:

DVS BSTrD:
This is what you call consolidating boys and girls. No more browser based games, no more action pretending to be horror, and no more Medal of Honor. Now we just have to wait until that Mass Effect spin-off fails to set the world on fire, and we can kiss the real Bioware goodbye as well.

This, I have a feeling in my gut that there is going to be a big shift in the industry soon (though that may just be indigestion). EA games failing to meet sales goals time and time again this last release season, the boom of indie games that made a ton of money despite a budget that was only a fraction of what AAA developers spend, and the overall meh attitude towards the PS4 announcement.

I feel like big changes are going to happen soon, for better or worse I'm not sure yet.

Better AND Worse.

EA's entire business philosophy is about to implode on itself. They pour millions into games and expect millions of sales... no matter what they do. They talk about how gamers "love" microtransactions being shoved into their games, and online passes, and forced Origin accounts, and day-1 DLC, and always-on internet requirements...

And yet EA is losing more and more money each quarter, despite the fact they are putting more and more "get-rich-quick" schemes into their games, and homogenizing more and more games to be the same basic action games chasing after Call of Duty, Uncharted, and Gears of War. And yet, shock of all shocks, their strategy is NOT working out for them.

EA wants to have a homerun every time they release a game. It's not unreasonable to WANT a homerun, but it's unreasonable to always TRY for a homerun. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is just make a base hit and work your way back to homeplate. Games like Dead Space, Mirror's Edge, Mass Effect, and Dragon Age were not "homeruns", but they sold well regardless and made a profit and spawned spin-offs, sequels, and franchise-potential. But EA, in their greed, tried to change the very reasons the original games were successful and hoped that homogenizing them all into action games with dumbed down mechanics would result in higher sales (along with more online passes, forced multiplayer, and unnecessary social elements taking up time, budget, and manpower).

And yet, yes, the indie scene is flourishing with cheaper, smaller, and even BETTER games. Other companies out there are excelling at both turning a profit AND pleasing their fans and customers. Even some of the biggest games to release recently lacked all the pre-order, online-pass, multiplayer BS that EA literally touts as mandatory for all their upcoming games (Skyrim would like a word with you, EA).

I don't know if the entire industry will implode, but EA's business practices will definitely sink them if they don't change the way they make and develop games. And, here's a hint, more anti-consumer, self-serving, pie-in-the-sky big-budget action games aren't the answer.

Andy Chalk:
UPDATE: In response to inquiries, Electronic Arts said EA Labels President Frank Gibeau addressed the issue a couple of weeks ago in the blog post entitled "Transition Is Our Friend,"

Well that doesn't sound ominous at all. Transition is our friend, so enjoy your transition to the welfare office, and remember to smile!

Trishbot:
snip

While I don't agree that companies shouldn't try to make a homerun every time (I would love to see companies try and make the best games they can possibly make, shoot for the stars and all that), you are definitely right that EA's strategy so far is just awful. They see things that are successful and making money (shooters like COD, microtransactions that work in games like LoL and TF2, social media integration and casual play from Popcap Games) then they try to integrate it into their own titles because they believe that those things will always be successful. EA doesn't realize that those things are only successful in certain situations, and instead try to shoehorn it into everything. I feel kind of bad for them really, everything they have released recently makes it look like they are grasping at straws, trying not to collapse. They need to listen to what gamers actually want, and not assume we want things because of sales figures.

I'm hoping they don't butcher Battlefield 4, yeah the last one was a bit of a departure from the rest of the series but I thought it was still a blast to play. Stuff like Medal of Honor: Warfighter have me convinced that they are going to run it into the ground.

I was initially slightly concerned when I read the headline, but once I realised who it actually was and what they actually made my reaction had to go down to; "Oh. Those games. I am...vaguely aware they exist. OK."

Considering EA's rough patch at the minute, hopefully some good will come of these layoffs and closing and EA might actually end up getting their head on straight. Considering this is EA, however, I feel doubtful about it.

Andy Chalk:
"Transition Is Our Friend,"

Why is it that the very first thing this makes me think of is "The Computer is your friend. Trust the Computer."

It has that same hint of smiling menace to it.

Church185:

While I don't agree that companies shouldn't try to make a homerun every time (I would love to see companies try and make the best games they can possibly make, shoot for the stars and all that), you are definitely right that EA's strategy so far is just awful.

I should rephrase. You SHOULD try to make a homerun every time (like in baseball), but you shouldn't EXPECT to make a homerun every time, and you shouldn't base your business, and the jobs of your employees, on a homerun every time. EA seems to be the people with zero plans for anything but homeruns, like the sheer notion of being a marginally successful game that makes a moderate profit is something they feel is the worst thing ever. So they put all their eggs in one basket, and when the game fails they blame the people who made the games they told them to make rather than realize it was their own stupid decisions they imposed on them.

"Mistakes are never bad if you learn from them." I'm not sure EA is learning.

So they would have been better off to continue doing their own thing at their own size and pace, rather than being absorbed by EA?

Well, that narrative doesn't sound familiar at all.

Trishbot:

I should rephrase. You SHOULD try to make a homerun every time (like in baseball), but you shouldn't EXPECT to make a homerun every time, and you shouldn't base your business, and the jobs of your employees, on a homerun every time. EA seems to be the people with zero plans for anything but homeruns, like the sheer notion of being a marginally successful game that makes a moderate profit is something they feel is the worst thing ever. So they put all their eggs in one basket, and when the game fails they blame the people who made the games they told them to make rather than realize it was their own stupid decisions they imposed on them.

"Mistakes are never bad if you learn from them." I'm not sure EA is learning.

Agreed, EA needs to stick with what works when it comes to their established franchises.

So what is this? Has the EA executives decided this is it's bi yearly dev studio execution show? First they might completely ax dead space and possibly visceral now a sub studio of Bioware you make me just ill EA you really really do.

So, wait. The name was changed from EA2D to Bioware San Francisco for what purpose? To fool people that their games were made by the actual Bioware and therefore of high quality? That's low even for a video game publisher.

Church185:

DVS BSTrD:
This is what you call consolidating boys and girls. No more browser based games, no more action pretending to be horror, and no more Medal of Honor. Now we just have to wait until that Mass Effect spin-off fails to set the world on fire, and we can kiss the real Bioware goodbye as well.

This, I have a feeling in my gut that there is going to be a big shift in the industry soon (though that may just be indigestion). EA games failing to meet sales goals time and time again this last release season, the boom of indie games that made a ton of money despite a budget that was only a fraction of what AAA developers spend, and the overall meh attitude towards the PS4 announcement.

I feel like big changes are going to happen soon, for better or worse I'm not sure yet.

When EA tries to follow shifts in the industry, it usually has the same results as indigestion :P

the antithesis:
So, wait. The name was changed from EA2D to Bioware San Francisco for what purpose? To fool people that their games were made by the actual Bioware and therefore of high quality? That's low even for a video game publisher.

I don't think the name change was all about brand recognition. I'm thinking something along the lines of that scene in Shrek where Lord Farquaad "persuades" the Magic Mirror to make him a king.

mfw

But in all seriousness, I knew this'd happen eventually. EA slowly shut down every developer that works for them. Patterns don't lie, sadly.

the antithesis:
So, wait. The name was changed from EA2D to Bioware San Francisco for what purpose? To fool people that their games were made by the actual Bioware and therefore of high quality? That's low even for a video game publisher.

Oh, this isn't a new move. Not in the video game industry, or industries in general. You buy or otherwise obtain the name of some beloved name brand, then you slap it on products that aren't doing well, or future products that might not do well otherwise.

Like how Infogrames is wearing Atari's dead skin.

Andy Chalk:

UPDATE: In response to inquiries, Electronic Arts said EA Labels President Frank Gibeau addressed the issue a couple of weeks ago in the blog post entitled "Transition Is Our Friend," and that it had no further comment to make on individual studio or headcount reductions.

Permalink

Transition Is Our Friend

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oh god! it has started!

Hmmm, no big thing, and not surprising.

It seems like it was a team picked up specifically to build tie-in promotional games for bigger products. The first "Dragon Age" game (single player) was cute and got some positive attention. The second, more ambitious, browser game was a microtransaction hungry monster that was largely tied to a product (Dragon Age 2) that wound up getting
mixed results at the best. Truthfully it's kind of surprising that it lasted into May 2012.

Given that their stable of games seems to be dead, dying, and tied to less than successful properties (Mirror's Edge wasn't exactly a smash success despite the praise for innovation it gets). Bioware's games being the ones that seemed to give them most of their success, and with Bioware's increasingly ambigious reception it's probably a wise desician to think that their next game isn't nessicary going to inherantly carry a promotional tie in like this to seperate microtransaction based success due to pure inertia.

In short it seems like it was a "Ra Ra" team designed to be attached to the coattails of a more successful company. Bioware managed to turn decades of good will into poison over a period of 3 games. Right now it seems like Bioware is probably on it's last legs before EA takes it out behind the woodshed and puts it out of it's misery, never mind being gifted with it's own seperate-profit-seeking cheering section.

Honestly, as much money as ME3 and DA2 might have made in absolute terms, even EA can't be oblivious to the reactions they are receiving, add ToR to it, and I think there are a lot of eyes on seeing how bad the backlash is going to be with their next game(s). Attaching riders isn't something I'd do at this stage in the game either.

DVS BSTrD:
This is what you call consolidating boys and girls. No more browser based games, no more action pretending to be horror, and no more Medal of Honor. Now we just have to wait until that Mass Effect spin-off fails to set the world on fire, and we can kiss the real Bioware goodbye as well.

depending on what you consider the real Bioware to be, they could already be dead and their zombified corpse just doesn't know it yet.

Basically it's like Bioware is a zombie.

And EA is Ash Williams. And THIS! IS! THEIR! BOOMSTICK!

the antithesis:
So, wait. The name was changed from EA2D to Bioware San Francisco for what purpose? To fool people that their games were made by the actual Bioware and therefore of high quality? That's low even for a video game publisher.

This isn't new. EA made BioWare a brand name some time ago (about around when BioWare Pulse appeared). Thus they started renaming studios to the "BioWare" brand to sucker people in... Then Dragon Age 2, Mass Effect 3, and SW:TOR came out and kinda smashed that strategy.

Currently BioWare has 4 studios:
BioWare Edmonton: THE original studio and responsible for everything up to Mass Effect (that means Baldur's Gate, KotOR, Jade Empire, etc.). So if you're worried about the REAL BioWare these are the guys to watch.

BioWare Austin: A "brand name" studio formed from people from other studios that made MMOs; SW:TOR is belongs to them

BioWare Montreal: Made the ME3 multiplayer and are developing ME4

BioWare Ireland: Kind of a support studio assisting Austin with quality assurance, localization, networking -stuff like that. No games to speak of.

There's another BioWare studio that was formed when EA renamed an existing studio they had (so another "brand name") that's working on a Command & Conquer game but I can't remember the studio name; may be Ireland, I don't know.

Devoneaux:

DVS BSTrD:
This is what you call consolidating boys and girls. No more browser based games, no more action pretending to be horror, and no more Medal of Honor. Now we just have to wait until that Mass Effect spin-off fails to set the world on fire, and we can kiss the real Bioware goodbye as well.

depending on what you consider the real Bioware to be, they could already be dead and their zombified corpse just doesn't know it yet.

Basically it's like Bioware is a zombie.

And EA is Ash Williams. And THIS! IS! THEIR! BOOMSTICK!

Whoa whoa WHOA! Hey now. That ain't right. Ash is likeable.

The analogy doesn't fit, anyway. Ash didn't make his hand bad to have to lop it off. Someone else did. Clearly, the Bioware being a zombie joke must also extend from EA being a worse evil.

Ergo, EA is Bad Ash. And this...is what's happening:

Shop smart, Escapists. Shop S-mart.

FalloutJack:

Devoneaux:

DVS BSTrD:
This is what you call consolidating boys and girls. No more browser based games, no more action pretending to be horror, and no more Medal of Honor. Now we just have to wait until that Mass Effect spin-off fails to set the world on fire, and we can kiss the real Bioware goodbye as well.

depending on what you consider the real Bioware to be, they could already be dead and their zombified corpse just doesn't know it yet.

Basically it's like Bioware is a zombie.

And EA is Ash Williams. And THIS! IS! THEIR! BOOMSTICK!

Whoa whoa WHOA! Hey now. That ain't right. Ash is likeable.

The analogy doesn't fit, anyway. Ash didn't make his hand bad to have to lop it off. Someone else did. Clearly, the Bioware being a zombie joke must also extend from EA being a worse evil.

Ergo, EA is Bad Ash. And this...is what's happening:

Shop smart, Escapists. Shop S-mart.

Well I meant it as Bioware being a shambling corpse that still somehow manages to walk around and then EA is Ash who comes in and puts a right quick stop to that.

Devoneaux:
My shop is Bruce?

I know. It just seemed to me that attributing EA to someone relatively cool and at least heroic when he can be bothered is a little unfair to Bruce Campbell. I mean, come on. EA doesn't even have moxie OR a good chin!

*Laughs maniacally*

That Mirror's Edge game looks pretty good, actually. Wish I'd known about it earlier.

So, EA is bleeding to death and is frantically trying to stop it any way they can?

/morbidpopcorn

Who didn't see this coming? THey'll close Bioware eventually.

Why do people never learn?

trying to plug the leaks in the sinking ship may make it sink slower, but not keep it afloat.

Capcha: I can do this!

challenge accepted?

Sixcess:

Andy Chalk:
"Transition Is Our Friend,"

Why is it that the very first thing this makes me think of is "The Computer is your friend. Trust the Computer."

It has that same hint of smiling menace to it.

You dont trust friend computer?

You must be one of those mutant commies!

the antithesis:
So, wait. The name was changed from EA2D to Bioware San Francisco for what purpose? To fool people that their games were made by the actual Bioware and therefore of high quality? That's low even for a video game publisher.

They do it quite often, when they have a studio that has a good buzz and PR they change the names of their other studios to reflect that.

Shortly after Mass Effect 2 they rebranded their RTS wing called "Victory Studios" which was formally part of the old corpse of westwood to "Bioware Victory" because Bioware had good buzz, even though they have fuck all to do with RTS games.

And I am shocked no one has posted this yet!
image

DVS BSTrD:
This is what you call consolidating boys and girls. No more browser based games, no more action pretending to be horror, and no more Medal of Honor. Now we just have to wait until that Mass Effect spin-off fails to set the world on fire, and we can kiss the real Bioware goodbye as well.

You're right, I know you're right but even though I loathe EA, it's still sad when you say it :-(

Desert Punk:
And I am shocked no one has posted this yet!
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Westwod, Pandemic, BioWare...may they RIP.

I still have a hope there'll be a Saboteur 2 one day.

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