With Mass Effect 4 Confirmed, Is BioWare Just A Brand Name?


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It had to happen some time. The end of a once great developer, after years making quality games beloved by fans and critics alike. But alas, those of us who thought there might be a chance to bounce back after recent disappointments should now probably accept the obvious: with today’s announcement from both Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk that they will be leaving the company they co-founded after nearly 20 years, BioWare is, for all intents and purposes, done.

This might sound harsh. The company’s official statement regarding the departure of its cofounders even says “Ray and Greg built BioWare to last. They’ve always known their retirement would come one day, so they developed a team of people who would ensure their standards and culture would endure.” But will it? For the answer to that question, one need only look at the information tucked into that statement. Alongside the soft announcement that future Mass Effect 3 DLC would be called Omega, we also got confirmation that an all new full game set in the Mass Effect Universe is underway. “But the Mass Effect universe is vast,” Flynn also said, “and Casey and our teams have plans for another full game.”

You may or may not love the idea of a Mass Effect sequel. Believe me, if Mass Effect 3 hadn’t failed, I’d be begging for more. But we can agree that iterating what was previously intended to be a closed trilogy is a bad sign for a developer beset recently some serious problems. The fan reaction to the ending of Mass Effect 3 had to come as a shock to a developer that spent so many years cultivating a close relationship with its customers. The controversy was only calmed when Ray Muzyka himself issued a contrite, highly personal statement which seemed to confirm their surprise. Since then, news about the company has been filled with trouble. SWTOR, acknowledged as a sem-flop, was forced to go F2P. Soon after, numerous BioWare Austin (SWTOR’s studio) employees were laid off, and rumors that the studio would soon be renamed ‘EA Austin’ abounded.

None of this bodes well for the continued good health of the company. Sure, BioWare has of course been bleeding old school talent for some time; Even if the founders hadn’t left, it was already a very different company from the one nabbed by EA some 4 years ago. But that they’ve done so late into a very difficult year, and after 2 years of an increasingly difficult relationship between them and their customers, has to be seen as evidence that whatever has been going on behind the scenes, its been settled. Whether this is due to EA’s completely believable claims that it doesn’t with its subsidiaries is unknown.

So what does this mean for BioWare moving forward? Now that the co-founders have left to spend more time with their non-compete clauses1, their former company will continue to make their games of course; including Dragon Age 3 and their upcoming untitled new IP. But judging from the reaction we get on Game Front whenever we post an article about the studio, the bloom is definitely off the rose. Frankly, it’s very unlikely that the positive reputation the company earned over its lifespan can survive the departure of the two men who founded it, especially now, as the official statement indicates, the man angry fans are most unhappy with is in charge of whatever new games the studio develops. We can’t help draw the conclusion that BioWare is now nothing more than a brand name EA will slap on games to give them the veneer of prestige.

In fact, they already have.

1) I kid, I kid. Obviously, there’s no evidence that this sudden, weird announcement after a very public difficult time for the company, during which the growing perception is that the parent entity is running it into the ground, constitutes some kind of early termination, or what other people might call ‘taking this job and shoving it.’ I suppose we’ll find out if the two of them start a new company in 1 to 2 years.

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29 Comments on With Mass Effect 4 Confirmed, Is BioWare Just A Brand Name?

Grizz

On September 18, 2012 at 4:40 pm

Well, I really hope that this company fails and EA starts to lose money. Its not right that they make crap after crap and still find ways to come out of the tunnel in the end at a profit. The fans have spoken, I just hope theres more of us than the “Casual” gamer that they are trying to attract to their crap games.

Halosldr

On September 18, 2012 at 4:41 pm

They need to let ME universe die…it was supposed to be a trilogy. It was epic untill the last few moments so BioWare just needs to let it go (it pains me to say that beacuse I was a huge ME fan and I NEVER thought I would be saying something like that When I played the first one). If If BioWare wants any chance at keeping what scrap of a name they have left they need to concetrate on DA3….I truly feel this is there absolute last chance to bring any kind of image back, and if they mess this up….bye bye BioWare.

PaulM

On September 18, 2012 at 5:35 pm

I don’t believe ME universe deserves death, the trilogy yes, of course, it´s finished. If they move away from shepard and crew, base the story maybe in one of the books with Anderson as main character or hire again Drew Karpysin to write it, and loose the spectacularity of involving all the universe in favor of a more close storyline and experience, it may be an intresting new product. The thing it’s that I don’t have confidence in all that to happen.

user

On September 18, 2012 at 5:52 pm

I don’t care what Bioware does or even becomes. Am sure that some people will.

Kevin

On September 18, 2012 at 6:42 pm

In 6 months to a year we will get the “inside story” leaked to some journalist of all the turmoil in the company and how the docs left out of fury over the direction EA was taking their company, and how they really thought that Bioware would be different from all the other companies EA stripped.

gasmaskangel

On September 18, 2012 at 8:32 pm

I hate to say it, but maybe it’s time to just let Bioware go. As much as I’ve been put off by the ME3 ending and the horrible (in my opinion) unnecessary multiplayer, and as much as my stomach was turned by the various actions and statements that regularly get expecterated from EA’s hideously deformed gullet, I still had hope for Bioware. I remembered the great games they’ve made that I still adore to this day, but the point is that those games are in the past, the last one that really immersed and captivated me so that I could think of nothing else for months on end was Jade Empire, but now even the really good ones don’t have the same magic.

Add into that two generally good but deeply flawed games, the departure of the Dr.s, SWTOR, and the above mentioned addition of another Mass Effect game when (and I speak only for myself here) I have no desire to revisit even the fiction and I’m starting to think it’s time to just walk away.

DA 3, with EA’s recent announcement that they won’t put out any game without some kind of multiplayer crammed into it no matter how unnecessary said multiplayer may be, looks like it will be the final nail in the coffin.

Now, if Bioware were doing anything to even look like it was rebelling against the EA overmind, (such as say, announcing that there would be absolutely no multiplayer component to DA 3) then I might be inclined to hope a little. But just a little.

Amagoi

On September 18, 2012 at 8:39 pm

The Bioware I knew and loved died, and this Bioware is just a walking corpse powered by EA. Even if I wasn’t done with Bioware games, I will no way be getting Mass Effect 4. Especially after how the ending to 3 was handled, and Casey Hudson’s acting like he did nothing wrong at all.

Hudson and Walters are hacks, and ME4 will be destined to fail. Star Wars sucked after it’s initial trilogy was done, and we all know Mass Effect will too.

Patches

On September 18, 2012 at 8:41 pm

Same as Westwood Studios, it will be remembered fondly for its games made before being bought by EA…

Wesker1984

On September 18, 2012 at 9:37 pm

I dont care about it, if they still release good games i do not really care if it become ”EA Austin”. If we can’t accept the fact that many things can change in our life, good or bad, the only option left is commiting suicide. And i will not kill myself just because a founders i never met decide to retire.

I will repeat it
If EA still make good games they will have my cash
If Bioware still make good games they will have my cash
And for the ones who do not accept this fact about me just F*** Y** all of you! You can’t control my life or what i want to buy.

True, because of EA we got a butchered Mass Effect 3 but i will not spit in their faces because of the errors they have done. If Mass Effect 4 or Dragon Age 3 give me the pleasure i want and give me an awesome story, characters development and decent endings i will be happy.

Maay

On September 18, 2012 at 10:04 pm

to have experienced what it feels like to be bought and left behind by company founders, I really wish for the ones who stay behind to be true to their passion and continue making awesome games. Keep the spirit alive guys, there’s nothing worse than felling abandoned. The torch was passed on to you, keep it bright and carry it high.
I want to give them the benefice of the doubt, and if ME4 or DA3 get good reviews, with Bioware slapped on them or not, they will get my money. I buy and play the games because they’re well made, not because of the brand.

Axetwin

On September 19, 2012 at 12:00 am

To be fair, “ME4″ was announced before ME3 was released. EA/Bioware was already saying that they have more ideas in the Mass Effect universe, though non of them will include Shepard as the main character. I suspect the next ME game wont have the 4 behind it which is why I use “ME4″ in quotations.

Its one thing for one of the founders to retire, but when both of your founding members retire simultaneously, then you know something is up. I have no doubt in a couple years when the “non-compete” clause is up, they’ll start up a new company.

sep

On September 19, 2012 at 1:27 am

Dragon Age 3 Multiplayer….

Cant wait!!

/facepalm

It's Me, It's Me, It's BLT

On September 19, 2012 at 4:07 am

Wesker1984
“I dont care about it, if they still release good games i do not really care if it become ”EA Austin”. If we can’t accept the fact that many things can change in our life, good or bad, the only option left is commiting suicide. And i will not kill myself just because a founders i never met decide to retire.”

Look, I know you’re something of a joke on here and that’s probably what you’re going for now, but please try to make sense.

This is not simply about something changing. This is not a debate on how people can’t stand change, so don’t even try going down that route. As you say, things often change for the better. The point is that BioWare is completely dead. You’re delusional if you think otherwise, it’s not a subjective quantity. It’s all there, evidenced by four years of submitting to EA and finally culminating in this announcement that a franchise fans were told all this time was a trilogy has been butchered so badly that it requires a fourth game, and that two of the founders aren’t even going to be around for it. BioWare doesn’t exist anymore. Hell, ‘EA BioWare’ doesn’t exist anymore. It’s just another EA studio making games for money, nothing more.

If you know anything about BioWare – which, in spite of your pathological defence mechanism regarding all things BioWare – then you’ll know that when they started up, it was just three medical students who wanted to tell stories through videogames. They raised $100,000 so that they could get started. It was never about the money back then, they just wanted to tell stories. Flash forward to 2012, and the games have become secondary to the money. It’s blatant for all to see, in fact it’s right there in EA’s company policy. They exist to make money, not to make games. The games are a means to an end.

BioWare sold its soul to EA, completely bastardised everything that fans loved about the original Mass Effect and their games in general – non-prescriptive but still consistent and intelligent storytelling coupled with strong RPG gameplay – and instead turned it into little more than a summer blockbuster shooter, added vapid musical cues so that the less critical of thinkers out there would know when they were supposed to feel sad about something, made levelling up a completely joyless experience and forgot about the main story. The ending to ME3 was not, in fact, simply an out-of-the-blue brain fart – it was a symptom of a much bigger ideological disease that has been eating away at BioWare for the last four years. I would actually go as far as to say that the ending, and the subsequent childish handling of the fan backlash by the puppets in the mainstream press, needed to happen so that gamers’ eyes could finally be opened to just how corporate and elitist the games industry has become.

As for the suicide line, I won’t even dignify it. It’s just a total nothing comparison.

If you still want to convince yourself that BioWare has the same ethos that it used to and still has your interests at heart, knock yourself out. Nobody’s suggesting that their games, and EA’s games, aren’t ‘good’ in the technical sense of the word. It’s pointless even arguing that. The problem is deeper than that, so deep that many gamers such as yourself simply refuse to dig away at it. They’ll continue to pre-order it on the first day, and they’ll continue to take the inevitable praise and tiresome ‘art’ mantra from mainstream critics at face value, at the expense of the games industry in general.

BioWare is as good as dead dead, and frankly that’s probably the less painful outcome for the majority of its fanbase.

Ascii78

On September 19, 2012 at 5:14 am

As a fan of Bioware, before the debacle that is ME3, my only hope now is that the company goes belly-up before EA completely trashes what little respect there is left. Seriously, what is it with EA destroying good companies and franchises, and this fictional belief that gamers don’t care about single-player stories anymore and that everything must be multiplayer?

Ebalosus

On September 19, 2012 at 5:33 am

^ What It’s Me, It’s Me, It’s BLT said. Kudos to you, good sir/madam

But, I digress. How the hell can they continue the Mass Effect story given the ending(s) to the third game? Those endings drastically altered the paradigm of the setting, thus to create a game set after the ending would mean that Bioware would have to pick one ending as canon, and discard the rest. That could work, in a gaidan game sense, but it would completely undo the choice the player made at the end of the third game.

Now, I hated the ending, and still do because of the giant plot holes still present (for example, the geth never wanting to harm their creators, only being forced to due to prejudice, being directly contradicted by what the hologram kid says), and think that going from that into a new game will just frustrate the s*** out of me.

lol@nn.nn

On September 19, 2012 at 6:33 am

Remember folks, ME3 was the end of Shepard’s story. That’s why the ending left more questions than answers.

Kinda like Assassin’s Creed Revelations, that was the end of Ezio’s story.

Daretoask

On September 19, 2012 at 6:40 am

@It’s Me, It’s Me, It’s BLT: Very much what you said!

DarthKate8215

On September 19, 2012 at 6:47 am

FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU

Ross Lincoln

On September 19, 2012 at 8:36 am

“Bioware would have to pick one ending as canon, and discard the rest. ”

I think they did. Obviously we won’t know until the unnecessary 4th game comes out, but statements made by BioWare reps on the social forums, some of the new dialogue in the extended cut and The leviathan, as well as the simple fact that they have confirmed Shep survives in the destroy ending, I think destroy is the canon ending, (with Synthesis being a best case scenario utopia ending).

Yeah, I know it still doesn’t make any sense at all since, you know, it forces you to contradict everything. But that’s the one I guarantee they’ll go with, since it’s the only one that allows for new possibilities for conflict in the universe. Incidentally, I also predict that the Leviathans will be brought out as the new series big bad.

CatmanStu

On September 19, 2012 at 8:56 am

The timing of the Doctors’ decisions is very telling. If they truly felt the company was still worth fighting for they would wait until the company reputation was favourable (or at least neutral) to leave for fresh challenges so as not to give the impression of abandoning ship. If it was Casey Hudson making this anouncement then it would be different; he has a lot of bad rep from the ME3 fiasco and would be seen as “taking one for the good of the team” but messers Muzyka and Zeschuk have managed to avoid the majority of that has stuck to Bioware from TOR, ME3 and DA2. To many, including myself, they represented the soul of old Bioware; at least metaphorically if not literally; their departure, regardless of the PR spin, will mean the majority of discerning customers will have little faith in future products and Bioware will have to re-earn all the respect they had built up over previous years.
As far as EA is concerned, in previous posts I have described them as poison but after giving it more thought I would call them “pushers” and their poison is GADT: Gamer Apathy Distraction Therapy.
Gaming is as popular as it has ever been but it isn’t because more people are geting clued in to what makes games great and unique, it’s because games have found a way to pander to the apathetic, non-commital way the majority of the public choose to “enjoy” their entertainment. In this regard you can probably look at EA’s acquisition of Bioware as an attempt to introduce their merchandise to a new market and ME3 was the first attempt at a gateway drug.
To Ray and Greg I say thank you for giving us one of the greatest developers this industry has known and best of luck with future endeavours.
To Bioware; I say to any employees with aspirations to continuing the companies proud traditions, RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!
To EA I say F*** Off and stop pushing you’re in my neighborhood.

SweetPea

On September 19, 2012 at 12:29 pm

@Ross Lincoln
They never confirmed that Shepard survives, after a lot of asking they said “it’s up to you to decide, it could also be a last breath before dying”.
Synthesis could also be canonized, it’s obviously their favorite, but it’s also one of the most hated ones.
I just hope they get rid of the ridiculous green eyes if they stick with synthesis.

Ross Lincoln

On September 19, 2012 at 12:35 pm

-SweetPea

Sorry, I should have included this: http://social.bioware.com/forum/1/topic/355/index/12758618

Scroll down to where it says: “You may notice that in the “Shepard lives” ending, the love interest hesitates to place Shepard’s name on the wall, and instead looks up as though deep in thought. This is meant to suggest that the love interest is not ready to believe Shepard is dead, and the final scene reveals they are correct. As the Normandy lifts off, there is hope that the love interest and Shepard will again be together.”

SweetPea

On September 19, 2012 at 2:57 pm

@Ross Lincoln
Oh well, seems like they themselves are not sure about it. That quote I mentioned is pretty recent, I think it was from the latest Comic-Con and If I’m correct, from Chris Priestly.
But yeah, it’s evident Shep survives. I just can’t stand Casey’s speculation-fetish, I feel like I have to collect half the story from tweets, random forum posts etc. Like with Emily Wong’s twitter death. Or when they changed their mind and said the relays only get disabled, not destroyed (this was pre-EC).

Wesker1984

On September 21, 2012 at 12:16 am

@ It’s Me, It’s Me, It’s BLT
Just to let you know i just read your long text and thank you to have taken your time to make such a deep answer to me. You not write it for nothing.

To be honest i know nothing about Bioware or it founders and i am no interests in that, i dont give a beep about the developers. The only things i care are the good games they can make. When a game become a favorite of mine i become over-protective and will defend it no matter what even if it had big flaws like the endings of ME3 or the repetive side of DA2. The only thing i care in a video game is a good story with a potable or decent ending. The extended cuts of ME3 are potable endings, not the one we deserved, but at least acceptable and i can live with that.

Also i have never saw the videogames as a form of ‘art’ but more a product i can buy to please myself. And i find that stupid when a game developers say such a stupid term ‘artistic vision’ to excuse the errors they have made in a game they developed like Biowae/EA did.

And another thing i never trust what a game developer is ‘promising’ before the game is released because everybody are liars for me. This is why i never get so angry about what choices matter or not in Mass Effect 3 the only thing i hated very badly in that game was the original endings and not the game we got and with the extended cuts released i now fully accept Mass Effect 3 as a whole and i dont care about such details like ‘God AI’, ‘space magic’,'colored endings and Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk retiring.

BUT i know Mass Effect 3 would have been better without EA and i’m still open for a better ending for the game.

What it would be awesome is a Mass Effect 4 who take place after the destroy ending and use the ‘indocrination theory’ as the main plot point playing with a free minded Shepard trying to save a Galaxy on the verge of extinction.

R.J.

On September 23, 2012 at 1:17 pm

I’ve come to accept that the Bioware I knew isn’t there anymore. Too many people that were responsible for the things I liked aren’t there. Several of those people left saying that it wasn’t the same company anymore. How blindsided they were to the reaction to ME3 seems telling. That they didn’t realize how strongly people felt about the story, when that is the very thing that keeps people coming back to Bioware games makes me think they lost touch a long time ago. Doing another ME game just screams that it was a decision from the EA overlords. The series made money, so EA doesn’t want to let it go. Never mind that it was meant to be trilogy and that trilogy is over. And they played up Casey Hudson’s involvement, again evidencing that they don’t get it anymore. Hudson and Mac Walters are blamed for the various things, most obviously the ending, and yet they act like Hudson is some visionary.

lee

On September 23, 2012 at 6:33 pm

I’m conficted, there is a part of me that is interested in a sequel then there is another side of me that says meh.

brian Eernisse

On October 4, 2012 at 7:35 pm

beside the fact the two cofounders retired wich happens in games just as like game series are passed over from company to company like 343 making halo 4 , ME 3 is the most brilliant game ever . heres why

i am just reading some of the people who stated bioware and ea will die, i can not laugh at you harder then i am doing right now, as your brains fail to comprihend the possibility of the indoctrination theory as further refered to as IT , as soon as the beam hits shepard befor going into the beam , he moves as in his dream like states , he has unlimited ammo , no where before in ME is that shown , u see piles of humans that were not there before filled with only 2 characters ashley and kailenko of ME1 shepard was haunted by and many times says he is , the starchild at the end is harbinger if not a reaper that uses the child itself and its apearance to further indoctrinate shepard , if you choose synthesis( witch basicly means turn everyone into a husk ) or control ( wich means become one of us as a reaper) you can see his eyes turning into that of an indoctrinated person like the illusive man or saren or husks were if u choose refusal or destroy you wil not. plus the fact that you see the breathing scene with only destroy which places you back into reality and the others let you see a dream future. and if you choose refusal the voice of the little kid changes in that of a reaper, if u shoot anderson in his left side abdiman you later clearly see that same wound on your self were there have been no shots clearly states anderson and the illusive man on board the citadel are fragments of your subconscious mind etc etc etc. IT has to many proven facts no one can debunk into other explanations to not be true. i am a critic and the only way i turned into a IT fan is because i have debunked all other explenations last couple of mohnts. and think about this , the whole point of indoctrination is to slowly infiltrate the mind of the person making him do your bidding while believing its your decission and that it is true ,, in that aspect you as a player who has made all of the decissions in the game ”as you ARE shepard making those decissions yourself ” have been a bit indoctrinated yourself in not realizing its a dream right from the moment you get hit with the beam. believe me as i came to a confirm for myself believing the IT is true i was pissed of that in my first run i blindly chose syntesis without realizing that combining organic and synthetic life is like being turned into a husk how ever pretty you show it , to become that has been the reapers will all along as in controling them will make you one of them like the INDOCTRINATED illusive man wanted and destroy wich was pusuaded to you by the starchild as renegade is the only one where your eyes dont turn al husk and is showing you the breathing scene is you waking up from your dream in the rubble of londen broken free from the indoctrination attempt of harbinger. sorry for this long statement but being fooled in not seeing the indoctrination wich means we as a player are a bit indoctrinated is one of the most impressive things i have ever seen out of a game company because it shows how devoted we are as players that an in game form of mind scrambeling can be performed on us actual players.

Bioware is the most cunning and brilliant bunch of game developers i have come across as long as you remind yourself and watch for all the details.

like the star child stated many times as the reapers did back in ME2 , if you can not see the indoctrination performed on shepard ingame as well as us in real life you were not ready to comprehend the truth.

good night.

No, no.

On November 20, 2012 at 3:43 am

brian Eernisse – head canon relying on supposition and assumptive confirmation bias is not fact. If the indoctrination theory is true, BioWare are even worse writers than if it isn’t true – as well as even bigger bastards – because they’ve done nothing to make it concrete. Stop clutching at straws, please.

Mike

On February 5, 2013 at 1:52 am

I’d actually enjoy another ME game. I don’t care when or where it takes place as long as it’s not a prequel. I’m not a douche, so I look forward to it.