Peter Moore On BioWare: “The Studio Has Done Great!”

BioWare has had a very difficult couple of years. Where once they were a shining example of a company that both made great games and was beloved by their fans, since the beginning of 2011 they’ve made misstep after misstep that has led to their being largely considered a de facto casualty of Electronic Arts’ track record, if not de jure. Let’s run it down, shall we?

Dragon Age 2 was – so I will insist until the day I die – groundbreaking in terms of its story, and departures from the typical Tolkien-esque RPG game, but it launched will a ton of bugs and horrid recycled assets. It is probably the most divisive overall game BioWare has released in recent history and most of what they did will probably not reappear in DA3.

Star Wars: The Old Republic. No, it’s not a flop but EA is not thrilled with its performance. And what can you say except that it’s probably not going to last long past the transition to free to play.

Finally, Mass Effect 3. While 90% of the game is brilliant, the incredibly botched ending, and the company’s initial reaction to it, is most assuredly the moment the bloom fell off the rose.

So how does EA feel about the company they are probably going to dismantle within 5 years?* In an interview with Eurogamer, comments of support from Peter Moore are interesting. Eurogamer presents his comments as giving the company a vote of confidence, but a careful reading suggests perhaps something else. When asked about the developer’s trials over the last 18 months, Moore said this:

You say the last 12-18 months, I think of three things: I think of Star Wars: The Old Republic, I think of what Mass Effect 3 has done and all of the offshoots we’ve done of that, and then a little bit further back Dragon Age. So from that perspective I think the studio has done great.

It’s true that Mass Effect sold well. EA claims it’s generated $200 million, and Moore is positive about the controversy. “It’s been interesting with the whole ending thing,” Moore said. “It’s a fascinating debate. More power to gamers. They have the outlets now. I always say, people are passionate about movies, people really like music, people are into their TV shows. Nobody in entertainment has more passion and a bigger megaphone than gamers. And to their credit they put their hands up. A lot of them said, we’re not sure about this ending in Mass Effect 3. So the team at BioWare, again, to their credit, said, all right, we’re going to stop a few things right now, the team’s going to go back and provide some DLC, no charge, to provide more context around what went on there.”

Of course, EA is pleased by the money and willing to stand by BioWare’s decision. But his comments lack anything specifically thrilled. He is largely insisting things are good despite the bad times, which isn’t the same thing. For now, at least, all seems well but much like unless a politician says “I strongly support [person X] over the [scandal Y]“, you know they’re about to cut them loose, EA continues to send mixed signals on BioWare’s fortunes. Particularly since other EA bigwigs seem to indicate the company cares more about brand success than developer success.

Anyway, what do you think? Let us know in comments.

*Like I always say, if BioWare exists in anything like its current state by 2017, I will be shocked.

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10 Comments on Peter Moore On BioWare: “The Studio Has Done Great!”

Rob

On August 22, 2012 at 3:23 pm

EA should take an introspective look at themselves and what they’ve done to push Bioware to where they are.

Red Menace

On August 22, 2012 at 3:45 pm

It’s sad to see EA drag the good name of BioWare through the mud and whore it out to lesser developers like “BioWare Victory.” Stories like these that show how out of touch EA is with the consumer do nothing but reassure me in my goal of never buying another EA game firsthand again.

R.J.

On August 22, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Of course he would say they are doing great. Companies never admit that there is a problem until they absolutely have to, and by then it’s too late. He plays it up like the issues Bioware has had are somehow positive, but that simply isn’t the case. It’s not like having people say DA2 was a huge step back or that ME3 deserved a better ending was at all a good thing. I don’t see it as very empowering either. Sure, the Extended Cut came because fans wouldn’t let it die and had outlets, but Bioware and EA did everything they could to downplay it and tell us we were wrong to even consider such a thing. It’s not exactly a great conversation when all your comments come through a PR filter and you try to tell your customers they are wrong simply because critics liked it. And it’s not like making it free was some sort of grand gesture. They did that because charging for it would have only inflamed the issue. Also, it isn’t empowering when they tell you that this version is what they planned all along, like the fans were just too stupid to see what Bioware couldn’t be bothered to show the first time.

It’s also hard to take him seriously considering that Bioware Austin has had mass layoffs and one of the Drs. has stepped down from his position at that studio.

CatmanStu

On August 22, 2012 at 4:01 pm

It does seem very likely that Bioware will be systematically dismantled by EA over the next five to ten years going by EA’s track record, but is that necessarily a bad thing?
One of the best things about this industry is the way the majority of consumers are clued in to the creative background of the games they purchase, a nice biproduct of this situation is that when employees of large, cumbersom companies like Bioware get fed up with the innevitable restrictive shackles of success they can move on to other less high profile projects and fans will follow.
If Bioware is being slowly suffocated by EA bean counters and rabid luddites, desperately clinging to decade old D&D style RPG expectations, I say let it die. From the ashes we could see the birth of a new developer that is to this generation what Bioware was to the last.

Or they could work for CD Projekt Red and become unto gods.

JeffDaniel

On August 22, 2012 at 4:14 pm

Beyond my opinions about BioWare’s recent story telling offerings, I need to judge this company by their history and the amazing people that fill their ranks. BioWare (pre-EA) was the shining example of what a developer should be. Great leadership, a creative staff that loved to push the medium, and an approachable attitude that made them the dream job for many of us. Then EA. Since I don’t know what changes were made to direction and upper management decisions, I can’t comment about it. But, the changes have obviously turned many BioWare loyalists off to their company. Some decisions “just don’t seem like a BioWare decision.” But looking past that, you still see all the talent (with the exception of Drew, which is a HUGE loss), and some of the amazing people that were there from the beginning.

It’s sad when the new Captain seems determined to steer the ship in to the rocks. I propose we launch a new campaign. Get the HTL and Retake people in on it, and rather than “Retake Mass Effect”, I propose we “Free BioWare!” They need to be independent. They need to have the right to say, “Screw you! The starchild is stupid, and we are not allowing that crap in to our story!” So, as of now, I propose, “FREE BIOWARE!”

It would be devastating to lose BioWare. It’s a great company with amazing people. We need to stand by them! It’s ok to disagree about a product. I hated the ending of Mass Effect 3. It was an insult to my loyalty. But I still love and respect BioWare and the people that make up that company.

JeffDaniel
koobismo.com

BattleaxeMaiden

On August 22, 2012 at 5:19 pm

I agree with Jeff, but I think the necessary conclusions to draw are twofold: First, do not be fooled by the label. Bioware had earned itself a good reputation by doing all the things Jeff mentioned, so from a profit-oriented point of view, EA is of course interested in slapping that label onto games. Which leads to second, there will be definitely a great need in game journalism to continue to look behind the brand curtain and identify what we truly are presented. In the case of Bioware “Victory”, a brand shell filled with… well, whatever. I’d love to be able to see the good people of Bioware-of-the-past find a new cozy spot to keep on doing awesome stuff. Let’s hope for the best.

midad

On August 22, 2012 at 5:25 pm

I see a kickstarter movement to fund a new studio for the genius at bioware.

Axetwin

On August 22, 2012 at 9:44 pm

I say the “Bioware missteps” started in 2010 with MassEffect 2. There was a MASSIVE tonal shift from ME1 to 2. What happened between 1 and 2? EA took over and the first thing they did was look at the complaints from the morons who bought ME1 and went “duur y r der rpg mekananicks in my shooter?? reeding r hurd me no urdersternd!! Y no MP?? Gaem haz guns y no MP?!?” EA went “oh you poor poor babies here let us make this game easier for you to understand”.

When ME2 released there were those of us who knew EXACTLY what it signified. The end of Bioware as we knew it. Yet the game received perfect scores across the board. The community was heralding it as the greatest game of our generation, one of the greatest games ever created. Then these people had the AUDACITY to question why DA2 turned out the way it did.

All of a sudden these people were confused, perplexed even as to why DA2 suffered such a dramatic tonal shift from the first game. These people that sucked the proverbial rooster of MassEffect 2 were then mystified as to why DA2 was so radically different. I wanted to tell at these people “are you fking blind or just fking stupid?!?”

Instead of the community recognizing exactly what ME2 represented and banding together to give EA a giant resounding “NO!!” they banded together, gave EA a giant thumbs up and said “Yes, this is exactly what we want”. This is a text book example of gamers reaping what they sow. As much as I dislike EA for what theyve done to Bioware, I dislike the community that much more for giving EA the greenlight to do it.

James

On August 23, 2012 at 3:31 pm

The strongest thing about Bioware has always been story telling. Not sure what happened, starting with ME2 their story telling has become crap. Sure they have some nice dialogues on an individual basis, but the over all story arcs are so bad. The worse is that quite a bit of the story is non-nonsensical which is the worse thing in an RPG, it snaps you right out of suspense of disbelief.

Brad

On August 27, 2012 at 10:02 am

A Free Bioware movement sounds nice. Someone ought to start a kickstarter on it.