The lights are on
Yesterday saw EA's second consecutive "win" in Consumerist's "Worst Company in America" contest. BioWare co-founder Dr. Greg Zeschuk spoke about his new life in beer, his thoughts about a return to game development, and BioWare's relationship with EA, in an interview with GamesIndustry. The doctor has definitely moved on, but his retrospective look at his time in the industry is all the more valuable for it.
One of the statements that stands out is Zeschuk's assertion that his studio had "complete creative control" throughout the development of key titles, including Dragon Age 2 and Mass Effect 3. Both received mixed responses from critics and consumers. Consumerist cited Mass Effect 3 in their "Worst Company" wrap-up post, claiming the endgame was rushed and that the publisher pushed it out too early. If Zeschuk's comment about EA's input on the creative product is accurate, the publisher would necessarily be absolved of guilt for the original ending of the trilogy.
He also talks about the transition that BioWare underwent when EA took over. His advice to others considering a publisher buyout is to make the decision based on the people involved. Zeschuk and his partner Dr. Ray Muzyka had worked with former EA CEO John Riccitiello before and felt comfortable with him. It might not have been that way had the pair had decided to go with someone they weren't familiar with. "The last thing you want to do is kind of blindly sell your company and not really know what you're in for," Zeszhuk stated, "because all the work you've ever done can be easily undone."
There is much more to the fascinating interview, which is available at GamesIndustry. For those that also enjoy libations, Dr. Greg Zeschuk's Beer Diaries is in full swing on his new website.
Email the author Mike Futter, or follow on Google+, Twitter, and Game Informer.
I'm not sure I fully believe this, but at least he's coming out to say that it's not nearly as bad as everyone assumes. I enjoyed both DA2 and ME3 quite a bit (multiple playthroughs of both) and honestly, though they're not as good as they could have been, they're by no means the messes that people on the internet want to make them out to be.
From the complete interview:
"But I can imagine myself, for example, being on a board, consulting..."
"But I think I can help folks with company stuff and culture stuff and making great studios..."
Q: Do you feel that BioWare's games were ever made to conform to some homogenous EA standard with things like forced multiplayer, micro-transactions, smart phone spinoffs, etc.? Did any of this make you jaded? Or you reject this notion?
Greg Zeschuk: No, I definitely reject it
Q: You and Ray, and BioWare as a whole, often faced a lot of negativity from gamers on the Internet who didn't like certain things about Dragon Age 2 or the Mass Effect 3 ending, etc. Do you think gamer culture is too prone to driving out the talent it relies upon for entertainment? Is the environment too toxic?
Greg Zeschuk: I have a few comments on that. One, the Internet is the ultimate megaphone, so a small number of people can sound really loud, so that's one caveat to remember. At the end of the day, for every one person complaining there are a whole bunch of other people who actually like it. Also, why were we called out a lot? Because we were taking aggressive choices - we were doing things people weren't willing to do, like the way we were portraying characters.
Basically, I think the people who are saying he was "paid off" by EA are fools. (He's a millionaire, anyways...)
I see his statements as possibly looking to get onto EAs board (and thus have some indirect control over the company he co-founded within EA), or, more likely, Mr. Zeschuck realizing that his achievements within the industry are directly linked to EA, and the public perception of EA, and he is defending EA as a way to defend both his professional decisions and the products and company he helped create.
Remember, the company he co-founded is part of the "Worst Company In America", and the games his company created were SPECIFICALLY cited as part of the reason why EA "won" that award twice in a row.
EA, not EA, half EA. They publish the games so they need to set a standard. The game should not come out unless it meets that standard. Just the way it is. You damage your brand in those instances by letting subpar items be released.
I think it also goes back to some devs claiming they wanted content in the game but EA dictated it be pulled for later sale and other such things. It really depends on the situation as well. What are the motives for saying such things either positive or negative.
I think saying these things can hurt the devs themselves as well. Because if EA is allowing some of this bad crap to happen and at not at least keeping some level of standard that is bad. And if the devs are not doing what they should and shipping some of these games so broken and unpolished that tells me a good something about them as well.
EA sure is responsible for a lot of crap like micro-transactions and other extra fees, but it's true, games' actual designers are ultimately responsible for the creation process. It's a shame that as many EA games as there are turned out flawed, as most of them have had great potential.
Well then, you sir, sort of dropped the ball a bit there.
Sorry, not buying it. If they had complete creative control, DA 2 and ME 3 woulda been better.
Creative control doesn't mean control.
EA "Get the ending done by xx/xx/xx"
Bioware "Ok we'll have to creatively cut stuff out to finish it up"
See creative control was maintained, but was no control at all.
Nice try Greggy boy, but we all know your EA masters are still dirt bags.
I'm sure all the other dev's under EA got the same treatment as this nobody.
Even if we assume that this is true... then this doesn't mean EA were the problem behind those titles, it would mean Bioware never cared about it's fans enough to provide a better game experience themselves. They rushed the game out themselves, and betrayed their fan base themselves.
So either they're lying to cover for EA, making EA even more of a bad guy, and Bioware terrible for selling out for saying it. Or they're telling the truth and saying Bioware has essentially sold out and doesn't care about it's fans.
This entire statement sounds like a losing scenario.
I believe him, but I doubt many will. They've already picked their gods.
I enjoyed the hell out of ME3 so Consumerist can go pound sand.