BioWare Beat: Irish Call Center Switched To General EA use

With the news yesterday that BioWare cofounders Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk simultaneously resigned their positions at the head of the studio, we asked if this was a sign that the company was on the way to becoming nothing more than a brand name, an EA imprint rather than a true developer. Left unasked in our article is the question of why now did they choose to bail? Naturally, that should provoke lots of speculation from Everyone. Those of you speculating might want to note that an important clue has emerged with the news, courtesy of Joystiq, that a subtle dismantling of BioWare’s industry footprint is currently underway in Ireland.

A post to EA’s official blog touts the approximately 300 jobs the publisher intends to create in a call center iin the West Region city of Galway. The facility, established last year solely to support Star Wars: The Old Republic, was formally named BioWare Ireland. It is now being reorganized to serve all major EA Europe titles, and has been renamed as the hilariously dytopian-sounding European Customer Experience Centre of Excellence, or ECECE if you’re nasty. This is obviously a big win for the citizens of Galway. Ireland has been among the EU countries hardest hit by the ongoing economic crisis, and 300 new, relatively well-paying jobs is nothing to sneeze at. (Galway only has around 76,000 people.)

Given TOR’s disappointing (to EA) performance, this isn’t exactly shocking. We fully expect the next chip to come in the form of BioWare Austin being renamed, as rumors predicted in August. But the timing of the announcement – made the same day as the announcement of the BioWare founders’ exits – should raise eyebrows of all but the most credulous observers.

This has been BioWare Beat, Game Front’s ongoing look into the… evolving fortunes of the studio behind Mass Effect 3 and Dragon Age 2..

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10 Comments on BioWare Beat: Irish Call Center Switched To General EA use

Roy Batty

On September 19, 2012 at 7:33 pm

This is not surprising, normally when a smaller company is bought by a bigger one they keep the original founders (the original force) as show pieces for a few years.

I saw this in my personal experience when the software company I was working for was bought out by a megalith. Very shortly thereafter our developers started to ignore calls from support staff wanting to help customers it was a sad, slow, and grim death (thankfully I bailed before my soul devoured).

Then what happens – incoming corporate culture rots the neophytes from the inside out which is exactly what is happening to Bioware.

EA is a talentless clearing house for those that have no passion in the game industry.

Companies that buy talent rather than cultivate it in house all have this problem, they are full of functionaries just collecting a paycheck.

Axetwin

On September 19, 2012 at 11:32 pm

@ Roy Batty. I agree however, SO MANY people have been in denial about this inevitability. Theyve all been talking about how Bioware is different, EA wouldnt do that to them.

redrum78

On September 19, 2012 at 11:35 pm

1. European Customer Experience Centre of Excellence
2. Freedom is slavery
3oh crap ah ignore this faithful serf…..sorry employees of EA, HA it juct cracks me calling them that.

quicktooth

On September 19, 2012 at 11:45 pm

Was going to comment; Roy Batty seems to have it all summed up. EA is actually Evil. This is surely clear proof.

sep

On September 20, 2012 at 12:50 am

I don’t think there is really anything that I actually hate more than EA. Quite literally.

Anathemize

On September 20, 2012 at 1:32 am

Why do Companies that are successful sell out to the big juggernauts(EA/Activision). My guess is the founders want to cash out what they have made. I would think that the people buying them would want to keep the founders there for a time to make sure their investment doesn’t go down the drain.

Bioware founders seem to have gotten bored with making games and wanted to move on to other passions they have. I don’t blame them for what they did. What I don’t understand is why any small company trying to make their mark would ever go to a big publisher. You lose alot of control on your games.

EA has to make that stock price rise so they will try to buy out anyone they think can give them a couple of points. I really do think that in 10 years the big publishers will be a shell of their current selves and will have to go the route that Valve/Kickstarter are doing. Take a small percent and let studios do what they want. Little risk if you publish a game and it fails. The risk would come on to the devs and the consumer.

As times go on more tools will become open source and smaller studios will be able to make higher quality games. These “indie” studios will take bigger risks(some which will fail) and eventually make better games. We have already seen this start to happen. Being forced to have multiplayer in games that don’t need it just deprive resources from what could of made the game a classic.

Kevin

On September 20, 2012 at 3:26 pm

@Anathemize

It’s actually not that surprising why companies do this. They in the end think they are different, that the individuals are better than those other companies which got gutted after being bought out. The docs wanted long term security. Even if they no longer have passion to do games, let’s be blunt: their grandchildren (maybe yet unborn) live in security by getting into bed with EA.

And they knew about Westwood and Origin. but they thought it would be different, that they were talented enough to overcome it. At least one of them seems to be rather penitent in realizing that this was a bad deal and he needs a shower now.

R.J.

On September 20, 2012 at 6:08 pm

Not too surprising. Peripheral entities with the Bioware name will get changed fairly quickly. It’ll probably be a while yet before there is no “Bioware” anymore, but in terms of their general attitude toward the people that have supported, I don’t know if it’s anymore than a name these days. And it’s not like that name is golden like it used to be. The whole idea of branding is to get the customer to buy a product based on the name stamped on it, but it works the other way as well. If people are burned by a brand, they stay away from it on principle. The name Bioware has gotten to the point where many simply don’t trust it anymore.

LokeyBear

On September 21, 2012 at 3:13 am

There’s something beautifully ironic about this happening to BioWare, and that it’s reflected on their once awesome Mass Effect series. Remember, one of the big themes was indoctrination, and in the third game TIM fell for it because he wanted to control the reapers. His logic was exactly the same as BioWare’s, and so many other smaller companies who sell out to the big boys – “I’m different. Those others before me failed, they fell for it, they allowed themselves to give up their autonomy and become ghosts in the machine, but it won’t happen to me. I’m the one who will make this happen.” Minutes after you manage to coerce TIM into suicide by convincing him how wrong he is, Shepard is given the exact same choice to make and accepts it with the same logic – “TIM couldn’t have done it, he was already being controlled, but I can do it.” This is why the indoctrination theory is still so popular.

My point is this – BioWare has, in essence, indoctrinated itself. It was convinced that it would be the company that wasn’t compromised, that it would retain its name, its prestige, that EA would allow them to make the games they became famous and respected for making, and that there would be no loss of vision or individuality. They deserted their beliefs, their very reason for doing what they were doing, in the same way as Shepard is asked to in the decision chamber with the Control and Synthesis options. Had they refused, EA would have simply fired them and given the IP to a different company, and, for want of a better term, the cycle would continue.

It seems eerily fitting that this has coincided with ME3, almost as if they’re two sides of the same credit.

Ebalosus

On September 21, 2012 at 6:02 am

“… lots of speculation from Everyone.”

I take it that was a jab at what Mister Hudson said regarding the ending to those sellout douchebags over at gametrailers?