EA Gave BioWare "Complete Creative Control"

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EA Gave BioWare "Complete Creative Control"

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According to BioWare co-founder Greg Zeschuk, Electronic Arts "treated them really well" and didn't interfere with game development.

Between fiscal shortfalls and the resignation of its CEO, it might be safe to say that Electronic Arts is not having the best time right now. If that weren't enough the publisher has, for the second year in a row, been selected by voters to be the recipient of The Consumerist's Worst Company in America award. While it's arguable that there are companies perhaps more deserving of the title, it's a definite sign that the EA has a serious image problem.

Perhaps central to this dilemma is the perception that the publisher, in several cases, has ruined good games and the developers that make them. Point in case, BioWare, following its purchase by EA, found itself on the receiving end of fans' wrath, first for flaws with Dragon Age 2 and then for the infamous ending of Mass Effect 3. In both cases, many were ready and willing to point the finger straight at Electronic Arts. According to Greg Zeschuk, co-founder of BioWare, however, EA was not all that intrusive while he was with the company.

"They don't second-guess you, they don't say you shouldn't do that," said Zeschuck, speaking to GamesIndustry. "We had complete creative control over a lot of it; some fans didn't like some of it and some of it was experimental, quite frankly." Zeschuck admits that profits were a concern, but doesn't hold it against EA. "The one caveat is at the end of the day for any company you have to run a profit, so you have to be thinking of things that actually make you profitable. So while you're taking all these creative risks in trying crazy stuff you almost have to simultaneously focus on the bottom line."

A candid focus on the bottom line, however pragmatic it is, is still likely one of the bigger factors behind EA's public image issue. Moves aimed at boosting profits, such as the rumored rush to release Dragon Age 2 or requiring Dead Space 3 to sell five million copies, haven't earned the publisher many points with fans. Likewise, its attempts to further the presence of microtransactions in its games, as well as the catastrophic launch of SimCity, have done a lot to sour gamers on the company.

Even so, Zeschuk, who left BioWare in 2012, would likely describe Electronic Arts as being something less than evil ogre many have come to see it as. "I really enjoyed my time at EA. It's interesting, people make a lot of assumptions about us and our feelings and how they treat people, but honestly we were treated really well. I made a lot of friends there, and I respect the people there are ton."

Source: GamesIndustry

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Which they say as if it is a good thing. If anything, knowing that they made all of these godawful decisions without being pressured to, makes me wonder if they know what the hell they are doing.

I wonder how much money EA paid him to say that.
Kind of a surprise how he says that RIGHT after Ea is named Worst company of America, isn't it?

I wouldn't say EA is a bad company, and I'll bet the people are actually fun to work with. It's just from a business standpoint they seem to be doing not so well.

Also, I didn't hate ME3's ending.

You had COMPLETE CREATIVE CONTROL.

They still controlled deadlines and made you ship ME3 a year early

So it's not EA's fault...

It's his fault?

And if they were such lovely fellahs, did he leave?

Awful smell of bullshit on the internet today for some reason.

He's hiding something in that beard.

ROFL!!!

look I am normally a reasonable individual, perfectly willing to look at both sides of a story, and to give developers and publishers the benefit of the doubt. I will often play Devil's Advocate in their defense. But I'm sorry, I am also capable of applying independent observation to a situation.

In this case it is very easy to see the change in the nature and caliber of Bioware's games that began as soon as they were aquired by EA. They may say that they were given a free hand, and I am sure in many ways they were. But ALL of the games that they have put out since have the unmistakable feel of rushed development, early release, poor QC, and a certain patern of corporate oversight that we have seen far to often in EA acquired companies.

Since being bought out Bioware has released DA2, SWTOR and ME3. And the problems with all of them are quite frankly nearly identical. And they all clearly reek of a company that while they may have had full control of the games content, gameplay and stories, had lost final control on funding decisions, development schedules and release schedules. And the problem is mirrored almost completely in virtually every well known development house that EA has borg'ed. Mythic and WAR anybody? How about what happened to Origin back in the day? The list goes on and on. Yes EA may have left the creative decisions intact. But they started doing the accounting. In some cases that might have been an understandable decision, but the end result is we end up with games who are primarily driven by corporate accountants and MBA's rather than actual creative people. And it shows with every single one of EA's games released in the past 10-12 years.

Yeah...everyone is crying again about how evil EA is and how they would never buy a game from bioware again.....
Well, here are my thought:
-Dragon age 1 was good, DA 2 was better (and before you ask, yes Ive played every BW game and my favorite is Planscape, so eff you if you think I am some CoD-casual gamer)
- ME 1 was boring, 2 was great, 3 just didnt really grabbed me and I never finished it

So, all in all I am still looking forward for DA3!
And please...male Jade Empire 2!

uh-hu, and im sure you don't have a gun to your back at all.

Well it s a good thing that I don't hold Bioware to a higher standard. I don't think I've ever blamed EA for shit Bioware has pulled. I don't blame EA when Gaider acts like a complete asshole online.

We had complete creative control over a lot of it; some fans didn't like some of it and some of it was experimental, quite frankly." Zeschuck admits that profits were a concern, but doesn't hold it against EA. "The one caveat is at the end of the day for any company you have to run a profit, so you have to be thinking of things that actually make you profitable. So while you're taking all these creative risks in trying crazy stuff you almost have to simultaneously focus on the bottom line.

Exactly, and that's why Bioware had to finish Mass Effect 3 off with a shitty, half-assed, unlogical and plothole filled ending. And Dragon Age 2 also did seem kinda rushed didn't it? What might have been the reason for that?

Zeschuck admits that profits were a concern, but doesn't hold it against EA.

So he is basically admitting that EA influenced them in that concern. I mean who would have thought...

I'm sure that's totally true. On another note, wasn't it a crazy coincidence that Zeschuk and one of the other docs just happened to announce their retirements on the same anniversary of Bioware's sale to EA?

Here's the thing, EA aren't evil. No one really thinks they are out to destory the industry and all that other bollocks
EA's problem is that they are fucking stupid. They are so earth shatteringly dumb I genuinely wonder if EA execs forget to breathe on occasion.
They set deadlines to tight to make a proper ending, they tigthen the budget to much and they try and copy their EA sports model onto games that cannot support it

Ever considered he got sick of all the stink we raise over EA? I mean they have done a LOT to deserve such criticism, but people have tried to point out that it is the developers, not EA, coming up with these 'genius' ideas.

I am sure EA's reins have forced the decisions like, ignoring single-player games and encouraging micro-transactions have angered a lot of people, and rightly so. But as long as EA stick to their analysts and fail to realize that they are looking at ALL platforms of gaming which horrendously distorts their data, EA will keep digging themselves a hole so deep they will never get out.

I do hope that EA have people checking forums for tips on how to get their company to improve, because while there is a lot of bile aimed at them, I do want to be excited when I see EA on a game cover, not groaning about it.

I miss when EA made great games...

Sean Kay:
Here's the thing, EA aren't evil. No one really thinks they are out to destory the industry and all that other bollocks
EA's problem is that they are fucking stupid. They are so earth shatteringly dumb I genuinely wonder if EA execs forget to breathe on occasion.
They set deadlines to tight to make a proper ending, they tigthen the budget to much and they try and copy their EA sports model onto games that cannot support it

This. And the reason for this, primarily, is the executives who run the company aren't FROM the Digital Media industry, they're based out of older consumer driven mediums like film, music, or even retail. All of which are inherently different, less finnicky beasts then videogames.

Funny how you're only saying this now that you DON'T. Perfectly happy to let it be EA's fault while you still ran Bioware.

grey_space:
So it's not EA's fault...

It's his fault?

And if they were such lovely fellahs, did he leave?

Awful smell of bullshit on the internet today for some reason.

You know that there are plenty of other reasons for someone to move on from their job other than 'their bosses are arseholes' right? If I remember rightly, this was the guy who left to start brewing beer, so just maybe, after so many years of working in the videogame industry, he was just burned out and wanted to try something new. Even if that not the case, the possibilities are still wide open. Perhaps he moved house somewhere further away and didn't want to commute, or perhaps there was a change in family priorities, and so on and so forth.

Remember, this guy isn't beholden to EA anymore. They're not paying him, he's not under contract. In short, he owes them nothing. So, if he had anything majorly negative to say about the company, what exactly would be stopping him from coming out and saying it?

Amaror:
I wonder how much money EA paid him to say that.

Nothing, he's a standup guy and won't succumb to bribes. I mean, he's probably made enough money from the two studio buyouts and such, he doesn't need more.

Amaror:
Kind of a surprise how he says that RIGHT after Ea is named Worst company of America, isn't it?

Which means the interview was probably held a week ago, went through transcribing then the article itself was probably written and edited a couple days ago.

And regarding the article, I'd like to point out this section:

The best analogy I use, in a positive way, is EA gives you enough rope to hang yourself.

One can translate that as the publisher going "Here's your budget, here's your deadline. Go." Thing is, if you consider that line, then with what CliffyB said about sequels, where the studio was operating lean for the previous game and/or before being bought, then got lots of funding from a publisher or sold lots and worked on a sequel:

Now, by all accounts, a sequel is usually a more refined experience. I'm going to let you in on a little development secret. The first features to often go into a sequel are the ones that we cut out of the first one. Shocking, I know, but towards the end of a development cycle a good producer knows to keep cutting in order to get the core of the title out the door. (Remember, this is a business.)

You can see how sometimes too much funding can be a bad thing, let alone a sequel and too much funding.

Right I believe you about having complete control...hang on didn't EA say they wouldn't green light a single project that didn't have multiplayer in it? Who is paying your wages? Who is making your deadlines? Also I would keep quiet if you had that control considering the controversy (love em or hate em) of Bioware's releases since being acquired by EA. Also yes this is odd timing for such an announcement due to the golden poo award I do wonder why are you bringing this up now and not a couple of months to a year or so back?

Seems to be EA's new thing to have the developers take the blame for thier interference.

Little do they realise that itll only drag down what popularity those devs had left since selling out to EA, and will still continue drag down EA by association even after the devs are disbanded.

So all the blame about shit Bioware games should be directed at Bioware? Filed for future reference.

It's also interesting that this comes from a former employee and not an EA infiltrator still working at the studio. Maybe he was given a generous 'retirement present' from EA recently? And by 'retirement present' I mean a big bag full of money with a dollar sign on the side, soaked in the tears of a thousand tortured franchises.

I'm sure EA gave them all the creative freedom they wanted... within the strict deadline.

But I don't hate EA for an ending to a video game that didn't really bother me at all. My gripes with EA lay primarily with their Origin 'service.' I was forced to sign up for Origin, as were many others, but if you're doing any kind of PC gaming, you're stuck with it. This wouldn't be a problem, but has anyone read the Terms of Service agreement? It's pretty fucking stupid. One of the terms you have to agree to is allowing Origin to search your computer whenever it feels like it.

EA has many issues, but doling out creative freedom isn't really one of them.

I'm sure BioWare set their own Deadlines for Dragon Age 2 and Mass Effect 2/3 to be 1 or 2 years respectively.
I'm sure they employed "Online Passes" all by their lonesome too, and not because it turned into EA policy.
I'm sure BioWare was burning on including an Online Mode into the latest Mass Effect, even to the point that some features were dropped and the game somewhat delayed to include it and it had nothing to do with EA policy that every game has to have an "Online component" (same with the Galactic Readiness thing and tie-ins with Facebook games).
I'm sure BioWare suddenly decided things like Day-1 DLC, Pre-Order DLC etc. is the way to go, and this change was just coincidental with the purchase by EA.
I'm sure they didn't get a push from EA to "consider" the Call of Duty and Gears of War audiences at all.
I'm sure BioWare had much say on what platform their games will release on (e.g. no Steam release and similar).
...
I'm also sure he's not under any sort of NDA for 3-5 years after leaving EA from an Executive position to not spill on any of the juicy details. (not that he might want to, if he wants to work in the Gaming Industry again when his "grace period" is over)

I will believe that they had rather much "control" over Star Wars: The Old Republic though, since that was rather important for EA and they blew it all by themselves.

I'm guessing profitability was not the only thing EA had its hand in. What about deadlines? Who's to say Bioware didn't require an other few months to polish/improve ME2 and ME3?

There's more than meets the eye with us. Mind you, I'm not going to delve in to this matter, I just don't take it at face value.

Like others have said you can give a developer 'complete creative control' and still enforce a restrictive deadline on it.

It's rather annoying how EA always seems to have these bullshit PR spin jobs. EA is the publisher and handles the business side of things, so if you have a top notch developer like Bioware then it makes perfect sense to to stand back and let them do their job. They're the ones with the creative spark after all. What EA brings to the table is the business acumen, and it's their business decision to rush a game like DA2 that caused it to be a flawed release.

I don't blame the short falls of those Bioware sequels being worst than their Pre-EA predecessors. I do however know it was a scum/dick move on EA's part to make ME3 exclusive to Origin.

TsunamiWombat:
You had COMPLETE CREATIVE CONTROL.

They still controlled deadlines and made you ship ME3 a year early

And that is the principle flaw in EA's business model; has been since they became a major player in the gaming business.
They sow the seeds, and expect to reap halfway into the season.

"Assuming Creative Control."
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I'm getting the ol' waft of bullshit from that.

The timing of Bioware turning garbage was just to perfect with that of EA acquiring them. DA: O and MS1 both started development under an independent Bioware, ME1 released first and then DA:O released under EA and we had Project $10 shite start.
ME2 and DA2 both started under EA and they both took their franchise down the generic action game route and away from their RPG roots.

I wouldn't call that "experimental".

EA aren't evil. They're just idiots.

faefrost:
But ALL of the games that they have put out since have the unmistakable feel of rushed development, early release, poor QC, and a certain patern of corporate oversight that we have seen far to often in EA acquired companies.

Mass Effect 2? I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that came out after they were bought. Fair enough on the corporate oversight point, I suppose; it's undeniable that it was made to be much more of a shooter to appeal to a broader demographic, but to be perfectly honest, it was a better game for it. And the other points just don't apply, in my opinion: Mass Effect 2 was a phenomenal game.

HalloHerrNoob:
-Dragon age 1 was good, DA 2 was better (and before you ask, yes Ive played every BW game and my favorite is Planscape, so eff you if you think I am some CoD-casual gamer)

Planescape was by Black Isle, not BioWare. And the pre-emptive insult to everyone else here was rather unnecessary. However:

And please...make Jade Empire 2!

100% agree with you on this. That world has so much potential that the first game just didn't make the most of. It was too short and too shallow, for which I blame being made late in the Xbox's life cycle. A new Jade Empire game with current technology could be glorious.

tehweave:
Also, I didn't hate ME3's ending.

Neither did I. Wasn't perfect, but I thought it was good enough.

I know Jessica Chobot has been harassed to hell and back for her role in the game, I feel sorry for her, she's become a product of the industry and her inclusion in this game was a horrible idea. If it's not a EA idea to draw COD/IGN fans to the game, then...well actually my view of Bioware has been really, really, really low to the point now I'm not surprised anymore they would think that was a good idea. Bioware wanted to put in more sexualized tits on top of existing sexualized tits for the sake of sales.

They already had so many characters they had to deal with that various fans loved, why reduce their roles and then add a bunch of new ones at the end of a trilogy? I don't understand, it's like if they took Return of the Jedi, introduced Jar Jar Binks and after Han Solo is freed from the carbonite, he just disappears for the rest of the movie because he's got some random thing more important to do than to join the Skywalkers in saving the galaxy again. "Sorry Leia, you were just a one time thing."

Bioware's creativity has become horrible and severely streamlined to focus on straight, white male fan service. Everyone praises Bioware for mature gay romances, meanwhile lesbian romances are fetishes at best. I mean really, why does Traynor's romance start like a man's lesbian porn fantasy? Why?

Once again, it's not just the ending that stinks about Mass Effect 3. It's just the tip of the craptastic iceberg.

While I dont really like EA and havent bought one of their games in years (not because of hate, but because they dont really appeal to me) I think the hate is getting way otta hand here....I mean, if you dont like a game, dont buy it.
If you dont like microtransactions in DS3, dont buy it and look how quickly they vanish.
If you dont like that Es pushes sportgames out every year: dont buy them and theyll stop that.
Yeah, they made lots of dumb decisions, but everyone here is acting as if they are the incarnation of evil and everyone who says a word in their defense is bribed/forced to do it...seriously, grow up!

Either:
this is bullshit that comes from EA paying the man to try and save something of their image, and EA ruins everything
OR:
This is true, and any company EA acquires simply becomes lazy and fails to deliver a decent product.

Either way, this is appalling

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