Bioware vs. their Fans

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How did this happen?

How did Bioware go from being one of the most respected developers in the industry to being one of the most vilified? I think it started in 2007, when they were acquired by Electronic Arts.

It was all downhill from there.

2007

Bioware introduced it's magnum opus to the world: Mass Effect. An epic, brilliantly-written story-driven space opera, Mass Effect captivated gamers and introduced millions to a burgeoning franchise and one of the most-loved developers in the industry. Bioware was riding high after this success. But then Electronic Arts bought Bioware.

Wait, that's not true.

EA bought Bioware in October, and Mass Effect was released in November. The reason it wasn't an EA title was because Microsoft fronted the money. That's also why it is still only available on Xbox 360 and PC.

2010

Bioware released Mass Effect 2, which was simultaneously revered and despised for the same reasons: the removal of some RPG mechanics and improved shooting. I'm not going into what I think about the game, but I will say it was the beginning of the hatred that Bioware and Mass Effect would receive.

With this game developed under EA supervision, many fans saw them as the reason it was "dumbed down." EA's reputation for appealing to the lowest-common denominator and preference to hit release dates fueled their fire, but the game was mostly loved and devoid of controversy.

2011

Dragon Age II is released and the shitstorm begins. While it garnered good reviews, it was this game that got Bioware fans largely angered. Two game in a row, they saw their favorite company and franchises getting "dumbed down," and now they had a whole container of gasoline for their flames. They derided it for many of the same reasons as they derided Mass Effect 2: simplified RPG mechanics, a lackluster story and a greater emphasis on combat. It even got to the point where EA Games Label President Frank Gibeau acknowledged the fans' disappointment over the direction Dragon Age II took, and proclaimed: "As we think about where we take the franchise next, we're going to take that into consideration and really engage them"

Bioware tried to coo reassuringly to fans that the studio worked for their fans.

2012

Mass Effect 3 comes out and you can't go to any gaming site without encountering the controversies tied to it. The most recent, and biggest one, is the ending. Or endings. Bioware has caved into fan pressure to change the endings. Fans made a petition and then took Bioware to the Federal Trade Commission on a false advertising complaint.

Over the past few years, Bioware's relationship with fans has gotten so volatile that it resulted in a lawsuit. Fans distrusted Bioware, and Bioware's acquisition by EA is what started it all. The games themselves came second, initially. Bioware then didn't stomp this in the ground and just say "we are artists, these are our works. We can't please everybody, no matter what we do." They just placated them, mindlessly, like children.

Through miscommunication, childishness, patronization, and EA's reputation, the relationship between Bioware and its fans has become adversarial and completely unhealthy. Unhealthy for the industry, for the games, the medium and for everybody involved.

I still like 'em
Sure, Mass Effect 3's ending sucked, and Dragon Age 2 wasn't as good as the first, but I'd rather play a Bioware game over many other games being release nowadays.

I'll still consider Bioware games but they lost my loyalty. When DA2 and ME2 came out buying the game day one wasn't even a question. Why should I worry about them after all, the first games were good. I liked DA2 and ME2, so I had no problem buying ME3. Well, that loyalty finally betrayed me. I'll look into DA3, since I still like that universe, but it isn't a forgone conclusion that it will be a day one purchase.

hazabaza1:
I still like 'em
Sure, Mass Effect 3's ending sucked, and Dragon Age 2 wasn't as good as the first, but I'd rather play a Bioware game over many other games being release nowadays.

Agreed! I have played many a game that makes me wonder if the developer has sold their soul for the almighty buck, sure the Mass Effect ending makes me hate on a level saved only for dictators and members of my family, but their games are still superior to others I've played over the last 18 months.

Once again proving that EA is still the evil empire. They were ok for about 2 years at the start of this gen where everyone hated them but now they are worse.

RIP Bullfrog, Looking Glass Studios, Pandemic etc etc The list goes on.

Fuck you EA.

I won't rule out Bioware games for being Bioware games, but they are no longer pre-orders for me. I am no longer a loyal customer as much I am a prospective buyer.

The funny part is how even "bad" BioWare games can still be considered a lot better than a lot of what else there is on the gaming market, though still gonna be a while until next time I buy one of their games. Maybe if/when their new releases make their way to Steam, and then have a special discount.

Then in turn, the reason why they're not on Steam is because EA had to get whiny about Steam's DLC policies. Is it really that bad that one of the criterias for having a game available on Steam is that the DLC for that game should also be available there?

CaptOfSerenity:
Bioware has caved into fan pressure to change the endings.

No, they haven't.

And I'm not saying that in Bioware's defence, since I personally hope they do change the endings.

...

As for Bioware in general, I'm somewhat ambivalent. On the one hand, I enjoy their games more than those produced by most other developers. If nothing else, they're about the only folks out there who are capable of making me give a damn about their characters.

On the other hand, I really wish they would give that tired formula of theirs a rest, 'cause God damn, it is getting old.

Yeah, the relationship between Bioware and their fans has changed greatly. They used to be one of the most loved gaming studios who made high quality games that people loved. Now they have been completely villified and many people see them as a bad studio.
EA really messed them up, their reputation is in tatters. Most people in the gaming community now know of Bioware thanks to the ME3 contorversy, even those who don't care about their games have heard about their fans hating them now.

I may look into DA3 since I loved the first game and the second one was kinda alright, I managed to enjoy it just enough to not dislike it. But that will be my last game with them, I skipped out ME3 and may do the same for DA3 depending on how it looks. DLC crap like they pulled with ME2 and 3 would instantly kill any chance of me getting it.

CaptOfSerenity:
Fans distrusted Bioware, and Bioware's acquisition by EA is what started it all.

I wonder if it would be possible for Bioware to break away from EA somehow, the way that Bungie ditched Microsoft a while ago. This corporate nonsense isn't really my area, and I don't know the exact details of how something like that might work, but the way things are going, it might be Bioware's only hope...

Is there any game-developer that hasn't gone through this? I don't think it's just a Bioware exclusive

Lionsfan:
Is there any game-developer that hasn't gone through this? I don't think it's just a Bioware exclusive

valve hasn't, but then again they hardly, if ever, release games to actually have that happen.

EA happened.

As strong a force as Bioware is in the gaming industry, and while 80% of what Bioware wants, Bioware gets, that 20% that EA demands is what people hate about Bioware.

I still think Bioware are a brilliant dev team, but EA is like a slow moving toxin, corrupting everything it touches.

Hyperbolic? Maybe, but that's the way I feel.

Their peak in terms of developer credibility was Baldur's Gate I & II / Neverwinter Knights / KotoR. When Mass Effect came along we were feverish for follow ups to these classics, and ME was one of the first next gen RPGs, so just like Ocarina of Time it got elevated to "untouchable classic" status, even though it wasn't really all that. By the time the shiny wore off and we realized that the game was barely an RPG - with it's worthless character build system, and next-level-of-dumb conversation wheel - it was too late.

hazabaza1:
I still like 'em
Sure, Mass Effect 3's ending sucked, and Dragon Age 2 wasn't as good as the first, but I'd rather play a Bioware game over many other games being release nowadays.

While i havent played DA2 I agree with this.

Alot of the people who hate the ending (and im willing to admit i do) forget that 95% if not more of that game was freaking amazing..

I think I can write Bioware games off as: "they just aren't for me anymore". (but they used to be)

I played and re-played almost every single one of their games up until Dragon Age: Origins. While Dragon Age: Origins wasn't "bad" it just wasn't my thing. I still played through it twice, I like the lore and I played DA:O Awakening 5 or 6 times. Even since then Bioware games have appealed less and less to me. I'm not trying to sound snobbish or like I hate stream-lined, "casual" RPGs but they've started to feel different in other ways.

It's very much the same thing that happened to me with Final Fantasy. I really enjoyed the first few games, there was some kind of shift in the tone and then the games lost their flavor. It's not just the stream-lining, it's things like the characters and the way the story is presented. For instance in DA2 and ME3 I've never wanted to reach into my tv and punch a character in the face so badly since Tidus in FFX. Again, not that there's anything wrong with recent FF games but it's just nails in my head - I don't get the appeal.

Mass Effect 3 had a lot of things that rubbed me the wrong way. Many of the new characters, the way they handled the old characters, the "action focus", the magical third act space macguffin, the ending, even the change in music and the fucking little kid just.... doesn't do it for me. I know I'm nitpicking and I don't have a problem with that. There are plently of games that I love that have things that bug me. There is never going to be a game that's perfect for me and that's fine; if any game has enough things in it that I find enjoyable whether it's the story, quirky game mechanics, characters or the setting I will enjoy it. But ME3 doesn't even out for me. There is too much there that I don't enjoy and the kicker is that Bioware didn't used to be that way. Their games just aren't for me anymore.

TL;DR: Consider me no longer a Bioware "fan". I still enjoy their older games but I'm not going to pre-order another one of their games again and I won't pick up one of their new games unless it comes heavily recommended by one of my friends.

I had no problem with Mass Effect 2.

Sure there were a number of things that could have been done better, but I still didn't have a problem with them. And plenty of things were done right. The plot was about as simple as they come (get a team for a suicide mission together Shepard!) but the writing, dialogue, and character development were spot on. And honestly? Good writing and choices are what define an RPG not what upgrades you can give your character.

Now... Dragon Age 2. For all of it's faults, the story is not one of them. It was a brilliant attempt to take a classic story line of loosely connected but distinct plot lines and put them into a single game. Clearly, most people didn't like this. So yea, I guess the attempt failed, but hey, it was awesome while it lasted.

And then parts of the story itself just failed but we won't go into that.

Dragon Age 2 is definitely the worst game of Bioware's current game set, but I really don't think it deserved all the hate...

Fappy:
I won't rule out Bioware games for being Bioware games, but they are no longer pre-orders for me. I am no longer a loyal customer as much I am a prospective buyer.

Pretty much this.

Say what you will about their business methods (and I can say a lot), the biggest issue is I just don't enjoy their games as much anymore. I can still go back and play Baldur's Gate and Kotor. I've finished Origins 4 times. However, I've never been able to play ME2 with a character I didn't play through 1 with, and I've never even made it to the end of Act 2 in DA2.

I used to be able to say "It's BioWare, of course I'll buy it." That's simply not the case anymore. Regardless of whose fault it is, regardless of the reasons, the simple fact is the BioWare Title is a shadow of its former self.

CaptOfSerenity:
Bloware vs. Their Fans

Mass Effect 2 was mostly pretty good, but had it's flaws. DA 2 remains unplayed, so I can't comment. The ending to Mass Effect 3 was pretty horrible.

Yup, EA sucks.

Finally, unless you meant to say "Bloware" in your title, you've got a typo.

Edit: Looks like it was a typo. :P

Eh... this story is old, and goes waaaay back. Its always been about an artist being paid by a co-orporation for what he loves to do under the promise of freedom which gradually transforms into the will of the co-orporation and the death of the art.

Coorporation: We will let you create whatever you want! And pay you!
Artist: Really? Awesome!
Coorporation: I know right? Just sign this contract reall quick...
Artist: WoW! Ok! *signs without looking too close*
Artist: I have a fantastic new Idea youre going to love!
Coorporation: Oooh, this is great! But... would you mind changing it just a bit?
Artist: Eh, sure I guess...
Coorporation: Fantastic! And while were on it would you mind doing this and that too?
Artist: Uhm... alright... it wont really be my work but...
Coorporation: Sure it will! It has your name on it doesnt it?
Artist: Well yeah... but the idea isnt mine...
Coorporation: Look, were paying you for this so the very least you can do is indulge our wishes.
Artist: But youre making me change everything about who I am! Where is the freedom you promised?
Coorporation: What freedom? The contract sais I own everything you produce and have the right to make any change I want.
Artist: WHAT?! Thats insane!
Coorporation: Sure is - but hey... *waves money*
Artist: ... uhh... maybe Ive been too hasty...
Coorporation: Its alright... everyone start where you were. But now that were on the same page... lets go earn money at the expense of art!

hazabaza1:
I still like 'em
Sure, Mass Effect 3's ending sucked, and Dragon Age 2 wasn't as good as the first, but I'd rather play a Bioware game over many other games being release nowadays.

This.

I still hold up the Mass Effect trilogy one of the best games ever made - even if the ending had some serious issues.

Edit: Oh, and for the record, I quite enjoyed DA2. In some ways more than DA:O. Sure the dungeons were copy/paste, but the ones in the city actually made sense (well, most of the time) since you were just revisiting the same locations with new residents. Looking forward to DA3.

Daystar Clarion:
EA happened.

As strong a force as Bioware is in the gaming industry, and while 80% of what Bioware wants, Bioware gets, that 20% that EA demands is what people hate about Bioware.

I still think Bioware are a brilliant dev team, but EA is like a slow moving toxin, corrupting everything it touches.

Hyperbolic? Maybe, but that's the way I feel.

Agreed.
I shake my fist at you EA. Kind of makes me wonder though, what would have happened if EA didn't take over?

Am I still a Bioware fan? Yea, I suppose. Just no longer a die hard one.

First Pandemic and now Bioware?

EA is like an Ardat-Yakshi, it kills everyone it partners with.

I liked Mass Effect 1 and Mass Effect 2. I even liked Mass Effect 3... up until the ending, I hadn't really had a big problem with it. Sure I had a couple of nitpicky and annoying things (Cerberus suddenly being a super organization & Tali's photo anyone?), but didn't have any game ruining problems.

Then I hit the end & got a "Choose A, B, or C" endings, that are all the same, & where stuff in their own lore got thrown out the space window, for example: the reason Shep. was on Earth @ the beginning was because he destroyed an entire system in the Arrival DLC by destroying a mass relay. The endgame destroys ALL the relays but you're to assume that none of the systems get destroyed (Though you're never told if the systems were destroyed or not, so maybe you killed everyone?). All your friends abandon you & crash land on an uninhabited planet to... starve to death? And all the Alien fleets are stranded in the same system (assuming that the relay xplosion didn't kill everyone) with no food, so I guess they all... starve to death too?

It was all just really really stupid & just didn't feel like a very well thought out ending at all. They literally had some holographic space ghost "Star Child" come out @ the end & explain everything to you. No thrilling final boss fight with Sovereign, just a kid that explains everything to you then the "choose A, B, or C" ending where nothing in the previous games effects any of the endings and everyone starves to death. Really most of my problems with the game are covered here.

Matthew94:
Once again proving that EA is still the evil empire. They were ok for about 2 years at the start of this gen where everyone hated them but now they are worse.

RIP Bullfrog, Looking Glass Studios, Pandemic etc etc The list goes on.

Fuck you EA.

Go ahead and add Westwood & Will Wright to the list.
"Challenge Everything" is misleading. "Swallow everything" seems more appropriate.

When you purchase EA, you are NOT supporting the developer. Every single talented, promising developer EA has bought out gets wrung out, displaced or eventually closed down entirely. And it is ALWAYS due to EA's meddling and mandates.
EA has been on the receiving end of class action lawsuits from their own employees for labor violations.

I want to make this perfectly clear: That is the vicious cycle of developer consumption you support when you buy an EA game. I want everyone who reads this to keep that in mind.

Do with that information what you will. I can't force you to care, but I can say you have been warned.

Some of us don't hate EA just because "It's cool or fun to hate". We hate EA because they are a plague upon gaming, and have been for over a decade now.

Mass Effect 3's ending has literally left me unable to play any game in the series ever again knowing that's what it all leads up to.
For taking one of my most loved material things in the world from me, I am done with EA. Well, that and other reasons I don't need to go into. And I'm pretty much done with BioWare for letting EA manipulate them, although the only games of theirs I've played and liked are the Mass Effect games anyway.

Lionsfan:
Is there any game-developer that hasn't gone through this? I don't think it's just a Bioware exclusive

Bethesda really hasn't. They got quite a bit of negative feedback about Oblivion, but it wasn't anything like BioWare's. Plus Skyrim seems to have won back a lot of them (though not all). There's actually a TES forum I've been going to regularly since Morrowind, and while there a lot of new faces, most of the old crowd is still around. We all still love the games, and, while there are complaints, we basically are just happy the company keeps making the kind of games we love.

The problem is BioWare has pretty much pulled a +90 degree turn and are making games for completely different audiences than they used to. I think that's where a lot of the bile comes from. It's like if Call of Duty's next installment was a turn based tactical shooter. Sure it might be good, but the current fans of the series are going to be annoyed.

I don't know what world you're living in, ME2 was a fantastic game

Krantos:

Lionsfan:
Is there any game-developer that hasn't gone through this? I don't think it's just a Bioware exclusive

Bethesda really hasn't. They got quite a bit of negative feedback about Oblivion, but it wasn't anything like BioWare's. Plus Skyrim seems to have won back a lot of them (though not all). There's actually a TES forum I've been going to regularly since Morrowind, and while there a lot of new faces, most of the old crowd is still around. We all still love the games, and, while there are complaints, we basically are just happy the company keeps making the kind of games we love.

That's interesting, because I loved Oblivion and didn't care for Skyrim.

Atmos Duality:

Matthew94:
Once again proving that EA is still the evil empire. They were ok for about 2 years at the start of this gen where everyone hated them but now they are worse.

RIP Bullfrog, Looking Glass Studios, Pandemic etc etc The list goes on.

Fuck you EA.

Go ahead and add Westwood & Will Wright to the list.
"Challege Everything" is misleading. "Swallow everything" seems more appropriate.

When you purchase EA, you are NOT supporting the developer. Every single talented, promising developer EA has bought out gets wrung out, displaced or eventually closed down entirely. And it is ALWAYS due to EA's meddling and mandates.
EA has been on the receiving end of class action lawsuits from their own employees for labor violations.

I want to make this perfectly clear: That is the vicious cycle of developer consumption you support when you buy an EA game. I want everyone who reads this to keep that in mind.

Do with that information what you will. I can't make you to care, but I can say you have been warned.

Some of us don't hate EA just because "It's cool or fun to hate". We hate EA because they are a plague upon gaming, and have been for over a decade now.

I have no idea how I forgot about those 2, Westwood and (old) Maxis were a huge part of my childhood. I bought The Sims 3 last summer, I couldn't believe how much EA had ruined it, it truly shocked me.

I agree with all the points you have made, it's the reason I'm on a genuine EA boycott at the moment. It's going to take all my energy to avoid buying Sim City 5 though, in some ways I hope it's shit.

putowtin:

hazabaza1:
I still like 'em
Sure, Mass Effect 3's ending sucked, and Dragon Age 2 wasn't as good as the first, but I'd rather play a Bioware game over many other games being release nowadays.

sure the Mass Effect ending makes me hate on a level saved only for dictators and members of my family,

And people who talk at the theatre. Fuck those guys.

Krantos:

Lionsfan:
Is there any game-developer that hasn't gone through this? I don't think it's just a Bioware exclusive

Bethesda really hasn't. They got quite a bit of negative feedback about Oblivion, but it wasn't anything like BioWare's. Plus Skyrim seems to have won back a lot of them (though not all). There's actually a TES forum I've been going to regularly since Morrowind, and while there a lot of new faces, most of the old crowd is still around. We all still love the games, and, while there are complaints, we basically are just happy the company keeps making the kind of games we love.

The problem is BioWare has pretty much pulled a +90 degree turn and are making games for completely different audiences than they used to. I think that's where a lot of the bile comes from. It's like if Call of Duty's next installment was a turn based tactical shooter. Sure it might be good, but the current fans of the series are going to be annoyed.

Never, ever try to please fans. They're never happy. Skyrim was awesome "hardcore fans" (morons) decried it because "it's not as complicated as Morrowind".

And another thing, can we as an Internet stop comparing shit to Morrowind? IT WASN'T EVEN THAT GOOD FOR THE TIME.

Even though I don't want to admit or think that EA really is that horrible a company to eventually destroy what I loved about Bioware, I have to admit there is a connection between when the games started to lose their shine and when EA bought them.

I mean I had fun with ME2, enjoyed DA2 and loved DA:O, but it never had that same OMG THIS IS BEAUTIFUL like ME1 did. And now with ME3...there is no way that ending is anything but last minute fill in. I can't muster up the energy to finish my other playthroughs with the ending as is.

Maybe I'm just not the focus anymore, that combat is more important than story now...

Maybe my dad is just getting to me...

Maybe I need a break from anything Mass Effect related until May....

Mustang678:
I don't know what world you're living in, ME2 was a fantastic game

Krantos:

Bethesda got quite a bit of negative feedback about Oblivion, but it wasn't anything like BioWare's. Plus Skyrim seems to have won back a lot of them (though not all). There's actually a TES forum I've been going to regularly since Morrowind, and while there a lot of new faces, most of the old crowd is still around. We all still love the games, and, while there are complaints, we basically are just happy the company keeps making the kind of games we love.

That's interesting, because I loved Oblivion and didn't care for Skyrim.

Oblivion got a lot of flak from Morrowind fans for a number of reason (some good, others not). I've at least tried all the games in the series (Arena and Daggerfall are basically unplayable by today's standards), but Morrowind is the first one I've spent much time with, so I generally base my impressions of the series on that.

Personally, I think they're all really good. They all did certain things differently, and better, while maintaining the same core engagements.

Morrowind had great atmosphere, but, gameplay wise, was lacking. Oblivion continues to be, imo, the most aesthetically pleasing (minus character models), but was a bit generic and the enemy leveling gave it a wronky difficulty curve. Skyrim has probably the best combat and magic, but isn't as atmospheric as Morrowind and is considerably...er... browner than Oblivion.

Hardcore fans, however, generally think Oblivion is the weakest (like I said, some good reasons, some not). The reason, IMO, there hasn't been any fan uprising about the changes to the games (removing stats, etc.) is they still maintain the same basic structure: Wonderfully full and expansive world to explore with limited constraints from story etc. Yes the animations are a bit wooden, the voice actors are second rate, and the plots could use a lot of help. But the central focus that makes the games great remains unchanged.

Just my opinion of course.

dreadedcandiru99:

CaptOfSerenity:
Fans distrusted Bioware, and Bioware's acquisition by EA is what started it all.

I wonder if it would be possible for Bioware to break away from EA somehow, the way that Bungie ditched Microsoft a while ago. This corporate nonsense isn't really my area, and I don't know the exact details of how something like that might work, but the way things are going, it might be Bioware's only hope...

I'm not sure, employees are probably singed to contracts and the name will most likely stay with EA no matter what, however there is a chance, however slim that BioWare could one day be EA free, under a new name most likely.

dreadedcandiru99:

CaptOfSerenity:
Fans distrusted Bioware, and Bioware's acquisition by EA is what started it all.

I wonder if it would be possible for Bioware to break away from EA somehow, the way that Bungie ditched Microsoft a while ago. This corporate nonsense isn't really my area, and I don't know the exact details of how something like that might work, but the way things are going, it might be Bioware's only hope...

Bungie signed a contract with Microsoft that ended with Reach, so theres that.

I think EA bought Bioware outright, so theres no way they are getting away from them unless someone buys Bioware from EA, which wont happen.

RIP Bioware.

Fappy:
I won't rule out Bioware games for being Bioware games, but they are no longer pre-orders for me. I am no longer a loyal customer as much I am a prospective buyer.

This hits the nail on the head.

I will still consider Bioware games, but I am never going to buy it before day one, and not even on day one. I will wait about a week or so to see if they massively screw up yet another game.

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