Gibeau Insists EA Doesn’t Meddle With its Developers
You kind of have to feel bad, somewhat, for poor Electronic Arts.
Dubbed the most evil company in America, their reputation for acquiring smaller developers and then ruining them is of course extremely well founded. Their constant efforts to turn original IP into clones of other games is an increasingly troubling sign of things to come. Add to this their clear obsession with turning the consumer video gaming experience into what amounts to a usurious rental agreement, and you have a bad image problem for the struggling giant. And yet, much like misguided cult members who only realize the ruin they made of their lives years after the fact, they really do seem to think they’re the good guys, and it’s clearly hurting their feelings that everyone hates them.
How do we know? Because EA President Frank Gibeau used the occasion of his speaking at the new York games conference last week to ardently claim that EA isn’t evil. Speaking about the growing perception that they are in the process of destroying BioWare, Gibeau said that “the truth is BioWare has developed as BioWare and that creative culture is owned by them. There’s nobody in the central planning committee at Electronic Arts that rolls in the tank divisions [into our studios] when they get too independent or too risky or too thoughtful.”
“Did EA intervene and say, ‘Hey Casey [Hudson], you’ve got a really interesting ending here to [Mass Effect 3], you’re probably going to cause some fans to get upset? No, we didn’t do that,” he insisted. “Casey is an artist. He made a choice about the story that he [and the team] wanted to tell as related to Mass Effect 3. And we didn’t intervene.”
OK, I am going to call bullsh*t right here. Look, no one is accusing EA of handing down story-dictates. No one is claiming that EA told Hudson to make that awful ending. They didn’t have to, because they control the purse strings. All they have to do to significantly affect anything is to cut off the funding. Any honest assessment of the original end of Mass Effect 3 must note the obviously half-finished graphics and recycled assets, a clear sign of having been rushed out. I would bet money right now that they ordered the Mass Effect 3 team to wrap it up, and that horrid ending is the result. Casey Hudson’s artistic vision is a nonsense deflection anyway, because even he admits that the original ending wasn’t the one he wanted.
But fine, we totally allow that you didn’t do the thing NO ONE claims you did. Please do go one. “It’s the same thing with PopCap, it’s the same thing with how we reinvigorated [SimCity studio] Maxxis,” Gibeau continued. “It’s the same thing with DICE. The way it actually really works is those guys report to me and they run their own individual businesses. They have their own individual creative choices. I will give them editorial feedback from time to time. But most of [my] time is spent doing research with customers and fans and understanding what’s happening, and understanding how to make our games better.”
I guess that’s why all their developers are committing themselves to releasing games with the core elements completely removed in favor of multiplayer and persistent Internet requirement schemes. Because of “individual creative choices”. Good to know.