How EA Will Probably Murder Bioware Video Games
It’s no secret that EA has a very cavalier attitude toward the well-being of companies it acquires. It has a habit of riding them hard and putting them away wet, in the worst sense of the term. The publisher is a mammoth creature, and has little regard for the comfort zones or optimal skillsets of developers under it. Their wishes are meaningless, and they will be trampled underfoot if they do not bow to the demands of their overlords.
It happened to Visceral Games most recently. With the relative failure of Dead Space 3 – hated by many of its fans for nearly abandoning the horror aspects of the game in favor of shoehorned-in co-op and crafting elements – the company was shunted to working on Battlefield spin-offs, and then summarily executed late last year for their under-performance in that series. This isn’t the first time EA has done this, far from it. It’s easy to find lists of them, and quite lengthy ones at that (fun fact: If you type “list of studios” into Google “EA has killed” is the first auto-complete option).
With the failure of Mass Effect: Andromeda (and subsequent cancellation of all its DLC), and the spotty record before that (like Mass Effect 3‘s controversy over its ending, and Dragon Age 2‘s lackluster reception), one wonders if Bioware is set on the same path Visceral and many others have tread before. Anthem certainly seems to bode poorly for them, with the double whammy of it being a game far outside of Bioware’s norm (at least superficially, it seems to be trying to be a Destiny competitor) and already being scrutinized over how its microtransactions are going to work even before it releases. If Anthem doesn’t sell well…one wonders where that will leave Bioware, having had two consecutive failures.
I hope I’m wrong. I hope Anthem is a good game, and is received well by fans of Bioware’s work. They’re a talented bunch over there at Bioware, and if EA would step off and just let them make great games like they used to (Dragon Age: Origins and Mass Effect 2 hold comfortable spots in my top 10 games of all time), I’m sure they could accomplish making any kind of game they set their minds to, and doing it well. But something in my gut tells me Anthem is going to be the exact opposite of that. I’ll be surprised if it has more than a hint of Bioware’s trademarks in its DNA.
That’s the most frustrating thing about EA’s habits, I feel. The executives at that company claim to only care about profit…but the fact of the matter is, good games sell. It’s when they start micromanaging what games their developers make, how they make them, and what features MUST be included that you get travesties like Andromeda and Dead Space 3 that perform poorly enough to impact their bottom line. It smacks of incompetence, and a baffling sort. No, I suppose more than incompetence it smacks of shortsightedness. EA is far too swift to cash in long term goodwill, built by developers over years (if not decades) for the quick profit of a single game…and in the process sacrifice much of any future revenue they would gain of that goodwill, dwarfing those short term profits over the long term.
This isn’t a problem unique to the game industry, but it does seem most common here. It’s frankly sad and very discouraging how talented people are so undervalued by these major publishers (and not just EA). Hopefully in the future the industry will outgrow these bad habits, but for now I genuinely fear for the future of Bioware as a company.
#How EA Will Probably Murder Bioware Video Games
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