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Fallout From the BioWare/Pandemic Buyout

Zonk posted about 7 years ago | from the if-they're-okay-with-it-i'm-okay-with-it dept.

Businesses 89

Yesterday's announcement of EA's purchase of BioWare and Pandemic took a lot of people by surprise. Today, there's some more information, reactions, and assurances from the people involved in the move. First and foremost: Mass Effect should not be affected by this purchase. The future of the series is still up in the air, but the game we've all be waiting for is still slated for a November 20th release exclusive to the Xbox 360. EA held a conference call about the buyout soon after it was announced, and answers a number of questions about specifics. FiringSquad has a feature on the reaction from the developers, and that piece has some assurances that EA's CEO John Riccitiello has the best interests of the new acquisitions at heart. Gamasutra has a Q&A with Pandemic's management team, which wants to point out that Pandemic/BioWare and their parent company drove this deal forward; this was not a hostile acquisition. Likewise Gamespot has a chat with the BioWare co-founders, who are equally excited about the deal. This may have been surprising, but if the two companies were onboard with this move it can hardly be dire, right?

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game over (5, Insightful)

Aurisor (932566) | about 7 years ago | (#20952737)

Anyone else feel like you're in a zombie movie and your best friend just got bitten?

Me: Bioware? Bioware!?
Bioware: BRAAIIIIINNNSSSSSSS
Me: Nooooooo!

*cocks shotgun*

Re:game over (0, Redundant)

GrayCalx (597428) | about 7 years ago | (#20953239)

Hahahaha, bravo man, funny stuff. Had to post just to let you know I'm laughing maniacally in my cube here.

Re:game over (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | about 7 years ago | (#20953811)

That's hilarious, but it is one of the best descriptions of the reactions we've seen from gamers: shock, disbelief, sadness, maybe some feelings of betrayal, and most of all a resolve to do what needs to be done...

Re:game over (1)

CHK6 (583097) | about 7 years ago | (#20953955)

Nothing is better than the funny wit of slashdot readers! I thank you for the nice shine you just put on Friday!

Re:game over (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20954255)

I'm thinking of the good old immortal internet animated gif.

All your game developers are belong to us...

Sigh! I'm afraid! Really! I am!

Re:game over (1)

Puff of Logic (895805) | about 7 years ago | (#20956129)

Brilliant. One of the few posts that I wish I could mod up over five. The zombie analogy is spot-on! When I read this, I had a vision of a giant Borg cube that was slowly assimilating all of the great game devs in the world and turning them into bean-counters.

But the zombie thing? Me likey.

Re:game over (1)

vimh42 (981236) | about 7 years ago | (#20960301)

When my wife read the announcement, the first thing she said was "Oh No." From the tone of her voice, I thought she just read a story about somebody killing puppies or beating up elderly people. Maybe I'll feel better after reading what the founders have to say about everything. I ended my comment on the Bioware forums by saying Mass Disappointment. Sure that's lame sounding, but but that's what I feel.

You never know - look at Will Wright (4, Interesting)

dtolman (688781) | about 7 years ago | (#20952811)

The fact that they have pampered Will Wright, and pretty much let him do whatever he wants (on two projects now - the Sims and Spore, is a good sign they know how in theory how to not destroy a creative development team. If they can extend that good practice to the entire Bioware group... maybe this won't end up being a disaster like Origin's buyout...

Re:You never know - look at Will Wright (1)

LameAssTheMity (998266) | about 7 years ago | (#20952871)

Ever heard the phrase "There's only room enough for one of us in this town" ?

Re:You never know - look at Will Wright (2, Insightful)

dtolman (688781) | about 7 years ago | (#20953017)

Yeah - but EA isn't a town - its a continent. As long as they aren't working out of the same office (and keep their release dates a few months apart), I'm sure they'll never realize they ain't the center of the EA universe...

Re:You never know - look at Will Wright (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20953081)

The fact that we've seen nothing substantial about the game mechanics and the long delay I have to claim vaporware.

The best we've seen is a celebrity demoing a maya plug in.

Re:You never know - look at Will Wright (2, Interesting)

techpawn (969834) | about 7 years ago | (#20953091)

I see this as EA is more financial backing for these creative minds. As long as they can continue to do what they've been doing EA most likely won't muck up what works. Just add a successful name to the portfolio and keep them fed.

Then again, look at the SIMS expansion packs...

Re:You never know - look at Will Wright (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20953223)

and pretty much let him do whatever he wants
Yeah cause if there's one thing "he wants" it's to push out a new crapspansion pack for the sims every 6 months. Too many people forget the Origins, the Westwoods, the Bullfrogs. But as long as we can shovel out another crapspansion for the sims they are all too happy.

Re:You never know - look at Will Wright (3, Interesting)

dtolman (688781) | about 7 years ago | (#20953333)

Yeah cause if there's one thing "he wants" it's to push out a new crapspansion pack for the sims every 6 months. Too many people forget the Origins, the Westwoods, the Bullfrogs. But as long as we can shovel out another crapspansion for the sims they are all too happy.


But that IS the whole point. Will Wright gets the freedom to create new original ideas and implement them (you think he's spent a second of his time on the Sims since publishing the original?), as long as EA gets to inherit the IP and turn it into a franchise (aka - pump out endless expansion packs). And who exactly loses in this deal? Wright gets creative freedom, EA gets new IP, and users get content shoveled at them. No one is forcing anyone to buy more expansions. Personally, I think its a good thing that a years old title is getting regular updates. Those Sims expansions are the closest thing out there to a working episodic gaming model...

Re:You never know - look at Will Wright (1)

NealokNYU (779603) | about 7 years ago | (#20960717)

Will Wright is a special case. As is TheSims. The Sims generates over a billion dollars a year for EA. This is why it's a separate division with its own name. EA's track record in this department is not great. Bullfrog. Origin. Westwood. This is worthy of fear.

Re:You never know - look at Will Wright (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20953865)

This is not entirely true of The Sims. Will Wright had to develop a lot of The Sims off the clock and in secret just to get a demo going to convince the then EA management that it was an idea worth pursuing. He had to fight a lot to get that game greenlighted:

"Don Mattrick, a former top Electronic Arts executive who was involved in the company's 1997 acquisition of Maxis, said the company's then-management didn't know how to deal with Mr. Wright. "They had a hard time communicating with Will," Mr. Mattrick recalls.

Electronic Arts, an increasingly powerful developer and publisher of games, acquired Maxis for $125 million. At the time, Mr. Wright's stake in the company was valued at about $17 million, according to regulatory filings. The company declines to discuss Mr. Wright's compensation.

Even though Mr. Mattrick encouraged Mr. Wright to continue the project, there remained considerable skepticism among sales and marketing types. In the past, "people games" had bombed because players were unforgiving of the graphical flaws in human characters imposed by computers' limitations.

In December 1999, just months before "The Sims" was scheduled to ship to retailers, the sales and marketing department at Electronic Arts forecast it would reap only 400,000 sales over its entire life."

(from http://kotaku.com/gaming/journalism/will-wright-in-the-wsj-177200.php [kotaku.com] )

However, once The Sims became the best selling game of all time, EA's management lightened up a bit and decided to let Will have the freedom he does now.

Re:You never know - look at Will Wright (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20957953)

RTFA, tardo, it was Maxis, not EA, that didn't want to develop The Sims:

Eventually, Mr. Wright decided to create a game focused on people. The business executives running Maxis at the time had little faith in the idea and recommended the project be killed. Mr. Wright responded by moving his development team to Silicon Valley, about 40 miles away from Maxis's headquarters.

Don Mattrick, a former top Electronic Arts executive who was involved in the company's 1997 acquisition of Maxis, said the company's then-management didn't know how to deal with Mr. Wright. "They had a hard time communicating with Will," Mr. Mattrick recalls.'

"The company's then management" that Don Mattrick refers to above is the people running Maxis. And the very quote you used states that Mattrick encouraged Wright to go ahead with The Sims. So much for "having to fight".

In short, you are a worthless illiterate fucksnot. People like you should be sterilized for the good of humanity.

Re:You never know - look at Will Wright (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | about 7 years ago | (#20953945)

Let's not forget that Will Wright practically forced EA to let him make the Sims.

Re:You never know - look at Will Wright (1)

crossmr (957846) | about 7 years ago | (#20956671)

we covered it yesterday but we'll cover it again now. The Sims is not in good shape right now. They might be pumping out an expansion or stuff pack every other week, but that doesn't mean its quality or that people are happy with it. Most of the original development team is gone from what I've gathered (will took most of them to spore). The Sims is basically life support for the rest of the company and EA is doing their darndest to screw that up. Have a look at the community response to the switch from safedisc to securom, or the fact that they've reintroduced already fixed bugs in a subsequent EP because they weren't working with patched code. That screams amateur outsourcing. The sims will be sustained on sheer name alone as long as there are 12 year old girls and bored housewives who don't feel like sleeping with the milkman. Its not foresight or skill on the part of EA. A retarded cross-eyed hobbit couldn't kill this.

Re:You never know - look at Will Wright (1)

necro2607 (771790) | about 7 years ago | (#20957283)

haha, riiight, or they just do a good job of maintaining the illusion that he gets to do whatever he wants. ;)

Re:You never know - look at Will Wright (1)

CodyRazor (1108681) | about 7 years ago | (#20958501)

Like i said in the last story, the reason will wright gets free reign is because the sims makes shitloads of money. its the highest selling game ever. all EA cares about is money. as bioware is known for quality and not profits, they dont stand a chance.

Ubisoft and Id, your are the last bastions of hope in the gaming world....

the MMO? (2, Interesting)

genrader (563784) | about 7 years ago | (#20952831)

Does anyone know if this will affect the MMO that bioware has been working on? I have always trusted bioware but the fact EA had to find some way to acquire them shows me EA is desperate and that this MMO may suck now.

Re:the MMO? (2, Insightful)

RogueyWon (735973) | about 7 years ago | (#20953359)

No idea whatsoever. However, part of me wonders if the MMO is related. Perhaps Bioware did a serious look at the costs involved in setting up and maintaining a large-scale MMO and decided that they wouldn't be able to get the ball rolling without some serious financial backing.

Running an MMO game world with hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of players in a persistent environment, with tens of thousands at the very least per server, is very different to managing the community for something like NWN, where players do much of the hard work and hosting. Blizzard and Square-Enix both found the jump tricky in some respects (although both of them undoubtedly got there in the end).

Re:the MMO? (3, Interesting)

Reapman (740286) | about 7 years ago | (#20954263)

Does EA run any MMO's other then Ultima Online? Sims Online, NFS MOtorcity or w/e it was called, died horrible deaths last I heard. UO2 and UO:X was cancelled. I agree that they may have cringed when looking at the realities of running an MMO, but I don't think EA would be at the top of my list of companies that can run an MMO well. Hell I'd pick SoE over em, and that is NOT saying much considering I've despised most of their games.

All the assurances in the world still don't get the bad taste that Westwood and Origin's deaths created. I hope I'm wrong.

Re:the MMO? (1)

Minupla (62455) | about 7 years ago | (#20955009)

Um, Ultima Online? :)

They actually interviewed me to be a NOC manager there once.

Min

Re:the MMO? (3, Informative)

Pandur77 (1172799) | about 7 years ago | (#20955169)

EA bought Mythic some time ago (and renamed them to EA Mythic) which is the developer of Dark Age of Camelot. EA Mythic is also developing the new Warhammer MMO.

Re:the MMO? (1)

Reapman (740286) | about 7 years ago | (#20955677)

Oh duh I forgot about those guys, I stand corrected. :)

Re:the MMO? (1)

brkello (642429) | about 7 years ago | (#20983417)

Let's pretend what the Parent post said was true. If they were to go to EA, it wouldn't be because they wanted EA to run the MMO. It is because they would want access to the giant money vault so they could make it happen.

Re:the MMO? (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about 7 years ago | (#20954135)

Suck? It won't suck. It won't exist. Look at the track record for yourself. Ultima X: Odyssey. Ultima Online 2. Battletech 3025. Earth & Beyond. Motor City Online. About the only MMORPG released by EA that wasn't canned before release or canned only a few months after release was Sims Online (Lord knows why).

Chris Mattern

Re:the MMO? (1)

azuredrake (1069906) | about 7 years ago | (#20955251)

As for the MMO plan, from the first gamasutra story linked in the original post:

"As for how the 10 new franchises spaced out over the next few years, the company confirmed that it would be fairly evenly over the 2009, 2010, and 2011 fiscal years, revealing that the BioWare MMO currently in development at BioWare Austin is planned towards the back half of that three year outlook."

As far as funding goes, I'm sure part of Bioware's motivation in this deal was the security of publishing it would give them for their MMO. As an independent developer, no matter how successful, they simply wouldn't have had the cashflow to self-publish an MMO. Assuming EA just lets them do their jobs and tries not to interfere with the typically awesome work that they do, I don't see the Bioware MMO going the way of previous EA led MMOs. Also, I'd be willing to bet that part of EA's motivation in acquiring Bioware was in buying up whatever in-house MMO engine they were coming up with, so that they can use it on other properties. But I guess only time will tell. ;-)

Hardly (4, Funny)

CaseyB (1105) | about 7 years ago | (#20952845)

This may have been surprising, but if the two companies were onboard with being given stacks of cash so large they require heavy machinery to move it can hardly be dire, right?

Fixed that for you.

Re:Hardly (3, Insightful)

Miltazar (1100457) | about 7 years ago | (#20954077)

That is exactly why this went forward. What just because a company went along with it, somehow it changes the fact? EA still is EA, whether this is a hostile take-over or them dumping piles of cash on Bioware. Origin Systems went willingly as well, what happened to them? Oh yeah, their founders eventually realized it was a bad idea and left. Now the company that had some great franchises, such as Wing Commander, Ultima, etc, now only makes Ultima Online expansions. The truth is that they did it for the money. After a few bombed games we'll hear how the bioware staff/founders are leaving, etc.

Why post this dup today? (1)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | about 7 years ago | (#20952977)

Didn't this get enough coverage yesterday?

http://games.slashdot.org/games/07/10/11/2053228.shtml [slashdot.org]

WTF cares?

Re:Why post this dup today? (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | about 7 years ago | (#20954027)

Yesterday was the announcement, today's the analysis, and it's sorely needed. To a gamer who's head hasn't been up their ass the past ten or so years, Bioware's a big deal. Pandemic has also been making a name for itself the past few years with titles like Star Wars Battlefront and Mercenaries. In the game industry, yesterday's announcement was like saying "Nuclear war between the US and Russia!" and today's is, "What got us here and how can you survive the nuclear holocaust?"

Re:Why post this dup today? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20957561)

If you don't care, WTF did you come in to post a comment? Are you really that fucking bored?

EA vs Atari vs Microsoft (1)

Xner (96363) | about 7 years ago | (#20952987)

Frankly, in the big "who's the most evil empire" game, I don't see EA as necessarily worse than Atari (who created huge problems with WotC game IP left and right) and Microsoft (whom we all know and loathe).

Re:EA vs Atari vs Microsoft (3, Interesting)

BarneyL (578636) | about 7 years ago | (#20953805)

The difference between Microsoft and EA is that Microsoft wants to destroy the competition. EA seem out to destroy the industry.

Re:EA vs Atari vs Microsoft (2, Informative)

azuredrake (1069906) | about 7 years ago | (#20954397)

This is not true at all. EA gets a lot of flak for previous acquisitions (Westwood, Origin) where the move was widely seen as just buying the IP and then cannibalizing an otherwise perfectly creative studio. However, their new CEO, John Ricotello, has a very accurate vision for how to move the company forward into developing new IP and really amping up the creative side of game design, rather than just the business side. I've heard him speak, and he really does know exactly what he's talking about. Furthermore, EA has no interest in destroying the gaming industry. That doesn't make even one bit of sense - without an industry, they would put themselves out of business.

Re:EA vs Atari vs Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20954545)

Thank you for those encouraging words, John Ricotello.

Re:EA vs Atari vs Microsoft (2, Interesting)

azuredrake (1069906) | about 7 years ago | (#20954617)

Hah, I wish I was John Ricotello... then I'd have stacks of money and be running the world's largest third-party game publisher...

In all seriousness, though, I worked at EA Headquarters from March of this year until September, and I was there from the beginning of his transition to CEO. I wish there were transcripts of his speech he gave about his vision for the company, but I'm sure those are industry secrets and not meant to be shared. However, I can say without hesitation that as a lifelong gamer and as someone who went into that job not really liking EA for what they'd done to studios in the past, I came away with a profound respect for the direction in which the company is headed, and a lot of hope for its future.

Executives are paid to lie. (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | about 7 years ago | (#20956841)

Sadly, it's a lesson I learned the hard way. As a result, I don't believe a single word any executive (especially at the CxO level) utters in any public forum.

Here's why: the CEOs main duty is to his/her stockholders. Anything they say that depresses stock value is a reason for the board to can them. Not only that, but anything that depresses stock value results in a massive hit to their wallet. As a result, CEOs are at best circumspect when they talk. At worst, they outright lie. They're especially prone to lying when no comment is as telling as an explicit comment, or when there is no way to sugarcoat, obfuscate or otherwise mitigate the issue.

John Ricotello might talk a good game, but that is completely irrelevant. The only thing that matters is track record and current actions. And on that.... I'll just go with the Zombie theme of the first poster: BRRAAAIIIINNNNNNNS

Re:Executives are paid to lie. (1)

pthor1231 (885423) | about 7 years ago | (#20957907)

Actually, at best they outright lie, and worst they are circumspect. If they are lying, you at least know what not to believe.

Re:EA vs Atari vs Microsoft (1)

crossmr (957846) | about 7 years ago | (#20956743)

Atari didn't own bioware. You can also be sure that its unlikely that bioware will ever be involved in anything D&D again, not even in name.

Fear Mongering (2, Funny)

poena.dare (306891) | about 7 years ago | (#20953041)

The title include the word "fallout", yet nothing in the blurb justifies the use.

Damn sensationalist /. eds!

Re:Fear Mongering (1)

anduz (1027854) | about 7 years ago | (#20955651)

It does have some merit, a lot of Bioware's community users are pretty much attending one big funeral on several of the official Bioware forums.

Ahh to be young again! (2, Funny)

CheddarHead (811916) | about 7 years ago | (#20953121)

This may have been surprising, but if the two companies were onboard with this move it can hardly be dire, right?

Such naive optimism! I miss those days before my heart was a dried up little rotten apple of cynicism. Oh well, I'll give it a try. Yeah... right... this can't be that bad. It's probably even a ...

Oh, never mind.

EA's motto? Do "no" evil? (1)

twoboxen (1111241) | about 7 years ago | (#20953779)

EA is always looking out for others--especially their customers! Thanks for the mac versions of year-old games! When do you predict they will start working?

"the best interests of the new acquisitions at heart"...
Translation: EA and EA's bottom line.

Re:EA's motto? Do "no" evil? (1)

azuredrake (1069906) | about 7 years ago | (#20954741)

Transgaming Inc, the company behind the technology that allowed EA to port their Direct-X based PC games to Mac, now has had a successful implementation of their conversion engine on a large scale. This could be used to port ANY DirectX game to an x86 Mac. I know for a fact that all four of the Mac games released work perfectly fine on Intel macs, as I have run them all myself - are you running a g4 or g5? If so, that's why it's not working.

Re:EA's motto? Do "no" evil? (1)

twoboxen (1111241) | about 7 years ago | (#20955367)

I know for a fact that the performance sucks compared to the windows version, as I own 2142 for both mac and windows. I also have a 2.4GHz MBP, so it's certainly not beyond the capability of the computer.
Additionally, I've used transgaming's linux releases (Point2Play, etc) before, and was not impressed--especially by their licensing model.
I don't consider "success" to be 50-60% performance in a port. I'm beyond the CAN they do it, and am questioning the HOW WELL they did it.

mac outbreak (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20953797)

I haven't heard anyone comment on this, but EA recently committed to bringing more of its lineup to the mac. so maybe this acquisition is a good thing for mac gamers?

Insight (1)

resonance378 (1169393) | about 7 years ago | (#20953917)

With EA's earlier pledge to bring Games to the MAC platform this could break new ground easily for Bioware/Pandemic who might not have had the financial or technical resources themselves. This sort of move gives all parties involved a lot of leverage and with the upswing in sales of Mac it is hard for games companies to ignore the platform. As successful as the products lines from B/P have been it is a no-brain move for them to pursue EA and for EA to willingly pick them up. EA gets more proven product lines, a broader market share, and a game segment that they have not really had a lot of success in. B/P gets resources both financial and technical to bring their products to other platforms and, if represented properly, have a better chance at larger sales within the market. A good indicator of the winds of change are the slow uptake of Vista and the broader market rejection of it in the business sector. The consumer is looking for value in their dollar with current trends in the US market(s) and in hard times you will suddenly find a lot of DYI growth, which inevitably leads to... Linux. Look at AMD/ATI and what they've started to do for open source. Hardware/Software is rapidly changing from fixed goods into a serviced goods structure as I see it. ALA Google apps etc. Do you start to see the trends now? This is hardly a bad move by all parties and the only thing that can possibly foul it up is terrible ego and mis-management. Oh... EA... hrmmm... :P Bioware/Pademic good move and enjoy your new found success! Well EA, you've got a turning point here... best of luck and hope you do well! Disclaimer: Economists please excuse my amateurish views and abuse of terms and concepts I don't fully understand but I felt it necessary to put business insight into the discussion instead of typical End of the World rants and raves.

Re:Insight (1)

crossmr (957846) | about 7 years ago | (#20956845)

Did you just use EA and "break new ground" in the same sentence? without a negative? How do you sleep at night?

Dumb move by EA (3, Insightful)

CHK6 (583097) | about 7 years ago | (#20953927)

If John Riccitiello thinks this acquisition will help EA he's overly optimistic. Not because Bioware is a shill (in fact the opposite), but if I was a Bioware employee with a large stake I'd cash out now before stepping back into the corporate culture and schedule demands. So EA paid through the nose to pay for a major stake holder position, yet it's that money that gives employees no incentive to stick around. Maybe Bioware's employees have no stake in all of this, but I doubt the principle developers don't have a monetary stake. But there are so many other companies getting all lathered up thinking about taking those wanting to jump ship. Maybe a RPG in the EVE universe? Also take that many of Bioware's Austin employees are ex-EA peeps, I doubt bad blood is washed clean.

The gravy trained just pulled in to the station. Get off now because the next leg of the trip is over a rickety and unproven wooden bridge. The last few trains that came along the EA route derailed and burned.

Re:Dumb move by EA (2, Insightful)

GregPK (991973) | about 7 years ago | (#20954115)

Nope...

Every person I've worked with that was involved with EA takeover in some way pretty much took thier Cash and left.

A great number of good games could have been made had EA not done thier best to destroy them. Or release everything they make with Serious bug issues.

Microsoft back in the early days of gaming did everything they could to foster the creativity of gaming into what it is today. With big budgets, big parties, big group gatherings.

God those were the days when I was happy to be in the industry. Now I'm happy to be out of it and buy a few slect games every year.

Re:Dumb move by EA (1)

Game Casa (1172305) | about 7 years ago | (#20954629)

We discussed this in our podcast last night. Tis a double edged sword. If the extra $ translates over into great gaming experiences; furthermore, experiences that EVERYONE can participate in--ala, having the financial backing to publish multi-platform--, then the consumer wins. The fear is that the big company looses it's focus and puts out a lesser product. More important, is if they don't care since they know they'll see a return for their investment. Perhaps this has been done with certain titles, where there's no competition--Madden, cough, cough...--, but over all, the casual consumer seems to think EA is doing a good job. People vote with their $ and for the past 'I don't know' how many years, the people have voted EA the #1 software publisher. Lot of stupid people buying video games though... --GC

Re:Dumb move by EA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20954803)

I dislike EA products as much as the next guy, but sometimes they do get things right (SSX 1-3). They may eventually destroy them (SSX 4), but there are some gems.

Skate, for instance, is a really good game so far.

Re:Dumb move by EA (1)

GregPK (991973) | about 7 years ago | (#20957689)

EA tends to buy game companies and run 1 or 2 titles forever. Doesn't even sell off any of the titles they aquire. Seriously, EA would be better off just buying the rights to specific games with the design team than buying a whole company. The method they currently use discourages the overall growth and diversity of gaming.

Re:Dumb move by EA (1)

triffid_98 (899609) | about 7 years ago | (#20959515)

I can only think of one noteable exception. When EA bought out Distinctive Software in 91' we actually got a pretty outstanding driving sim (NFS). Unfortunately then the EA suits took over, and turned the sequels into lame arcade-physics race titles. Over the years EA has published some great titles, too bad they haven't figured out how to write any.

Every person I've worked with that was involved with EA takeover in some way pretty much took thier Cash and left. A great number of good games could have been made had EA not done thier best to destroy them. Or release everything they make with Serious bug issues.

Re:Dumb move by EA (1)

GregPK (991973) | about 7 years ago | (#20959811)

The old need for speed was amazing... I remember talking to a product manager once. Asking him "will you ever release Porsche Unleashed again?" His response to this was "that game was harddddd". I had to chuckle in that it was probably the best overall realistic racing game that the Need For Speed series ever released. After that, it wasn't as much fun. It was just lame arcade physics beyond that which pretty much stopped me from buying Need for Speed all together.

Forza 1, Forza 2, Dirt, GT1, GT2, GT3, GTHD, Rallisport 1-2, colin Mcrae series. Those have all pleased me far more than the most recent of the Need For Speed series.

Seriously, give me a car that actually responds to throttle lift.

Re:Dumb move by EA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20954485)

If you've ever been to Bioware Edmonton you would see that, no, people aren't really that discontented. Besides, Bioware is one of the best companies to work for in Canada, and everyone I know who works there all enjoys nice long hours during the end of the development cycle...like...probably-should-be-illegal long hours... and still love their jobs.

Besides, even if everyone at Bioware quits over the next 5 years, the number of graduates in Comp Sci in western canada is more than enough to fill their roles, and frankly, ever kid with a Comp Sci degree here WANTS to work for Bioware, they just end up writing digital thermometre coding for a career instead because they don't hire very often!

Re:Dumb move by EA (1)

i8-p (951301) | about 7 years ago | (#20956691)

Remember that this is the second time Riccitiello has bought Bioware and Pandemic. The first time was as a partner in Elevation Partners, the private equity firm that has owned the studios for the past two years. I don't remember seeing an exedus when Elevation bought them. A big part of the reason is that PE folks are very wary of key employees jumping ship and taking the value they just bought with them, so they give them $$ incentives to stay. The same will stay true here; employees won't be cashing out. The deal includes $155M of equity in EA to go to the acquired company, which is most likely earmarked for employee incentives.

Also, to respond to the initial post, if people were surprised by this move, they haven't been paying attention. When Riccitiello left Elevation to re-join EA, it was only a matter of time until EA bought these studios. Private equity shops don't buy companies to hold onto them for the long haul; they either cobble together critical mass, or sell out. And given Riccitiello's affiliation, did anyone see his old partners selling to anyone else?

My take on the buy.... (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | about 7 years ago | (#20959253)

Riccitiello just handed his old pals at Elevation Partners and VG Holdings (and probably himself in some circuitous fashion) a big, fat 840 million dollar gift. Think about it:
- Elevation Partners bought both Pandemic and Bioware in 2005 for 300 million dollars.
- just 2 years later, the two companies are bought for 2.7 times that amount.
- Riccitiello was part-founder of Elevation Partners.
- Riccitiello was CEO of VG Holdings.
- Riccitiello left the position of CEO of VG Holdings and partner at Elevation Partners in 02/2007 to be CEO of EA.
- of the $840 million, mgmt retention bonus is $155 million.
- the total revenue of all Pandemic and Bioware games EVER COMBINED was about $950 million.
- total headcount of both companies is about 800 people.

So let me get this straight - the guy who was responsible in 2005 for the merger of Pandemic and Bioware and shelled out 300 million bucks for that task, is now handing out nearly three times that amount to his old buddies for the pleasure to outright buy them? Not to mention the fat retention bonus to certain VGH managers? Not to mention that the buyout price is ridiculously close to the total revenue that both Pandemic and Bioware grossed together in their entire lifetimes?

This is the definition of a gravy train, and somebody just got ridiculously rich because some CEO is buddies with somebody. The more I look into the deal, the more ridiculous it is. This can't possibly have been about economics, because the economics aren't there. This had to be a back-room, back-slapping, palm-greased deal.

Goodbye Bioware. You'll bear the consequences of this atrocity. I hope the people who made Bioware awesome get out while they can and start something new.

Mass Effect? What about Dragon Age? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20954441)

Given that it's the only proper CRPG from a major developer in years, and possibly the last gasp of the isometric, (quasi-)turn-based genre, I'm far more concerned with the fate of Dragon Age.

Bioware staff are locking all threads about the buyout on the DA forums and refusing to answer any serious questions.

EA games on linux soon maybe? (1)

azuredrake (1069906) | about 7 years ago | (#20954919)

Just a thought... I ventured over to http://www.transgaming.com/ [transgaming.com] , the company that EA worked with to do their Mac ports, and discovered that their front page is advertising EVE now being available for Mac and linux. Maybe we'll see future Bioware/Pandemic games, or any IP acquired by EA in the merger, ported to these systems as well? That could be neat.

Re:EA games on linux soon maybe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20956847)

their front page is advertising EVE now being available for Mac and linux
Damn you, I thought they had actually finished the "port" now. But they haven't, it clearly says "Coming Soon" on the front page. Oh well, EVE actually works pretty good under Wine already.

Trilogy? (1)

anduz (1027854) | about 7 years ago | (#20955381)

GZ: We can't predict the future. We'll see what happens. The key thing is we now plan on making thirteen thousand Mass Effect games, and we've got a great story arc.

Fixed

Re:Trilogy? (1)

necro2607 (771790) | about 7 years ago | (#20957347)

No shit hey. I can see it now. Mass Effect 2008: Space-farer Expansion Set 4. Man, EA pisses me off... I'm barely even joking about that game title - it'll probably happen, just with a different title for the expansion. Just look at the countless fucking expansions for The Sims. Now combine that with something like Madden or NFS or any of those other games they update every single year (or even more often).

Bioware's Take on it (1)

DJCouchyCouch (622482) | about 7 years ago | (#20955549)

"Do you like my hat? It's made of MONEY!"

Just freaking great (1)

ThreeDeadTrolls (944446) | about 7 years ago | (#20955695)

The last thing I need is Madden announcing when I roll a 20 for a critical hit.

So what happens if EA fall(s) out? (1)

misterooga (1172837) | about 7 years ago | (#20955841)

How many companies are under EA now? If EA ever go down, won't we see a huge void all of the sudden as all the creative game labs also go down with it?

A disturbance in the force... (1)

azuredrake (1069906) | about 7 years ago | (#20956253)

as if millions of Sims cried out in pain... and then were silent.

Re:So what happens if EA fall(s) out? (1)

crossmr (957846) | about 7 years ago | (#20956959)

The creative will be gone from those labs long before EA folds...

Re:So what happens if EA fall(s) out? (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about 7 years ago | (#20958153)

Er, *what* creative game labs? Creative game labs is what you have *before* acquisition by EA--not after.

Chris Mattern

Re:So what happens if EA fall(s) out? (1)

PingSpike (947548) | about 7 years ago | (#20958431)

The void will be filled. After EA gets done raping an aquired company, all thats left is the IP...which they will shelve next to the other hundreds of unused items. All the talented people that EA thinks that it buys with these acquisions aren't actually slaves attached to the purchased entity, they can just leave and go form another company. Look at the end run around the system shock IP that Bioshock was...the IP is worth something, but when you pull the people behind it out of the mix it quickly loses value.

EA = Evil Acquisitions (1)

SonicTheDeadFrog (1155815) | about 7 years ago | (#20957119)

I could hurl expletives at EA for destroying yet another decent development house - and who seriously entertains the possibility that BioWare's talent is going to be left to continue life as usual? However, what strikes me as more unbelievable is that so many damn studios keep selling to them.

AFAIK this wasn't a forced takeover. So why are so many development houses willing to feed their brainchild to the evil empire? It's getting ridiculous. It seems like the goal is to rise to fame on the backs of your customers until you look tasty enough for EA to offer you a big fat check for the whole thing. Shame on you BioWare!

Was money tight for BioWare? Were the bills piling up and EA bailed them out with a mountain of money and an offer they couldnt' refuse? It may sound self-serving, but I would much rather that the studio went bankrupt and closed its doors like Working Designs than have it's good name sullied and dragged through the mud by the Borg of Videogamedom that EA has become.

Whether you like their games or not, EA is the bane of all videogamedom because it represents the philosophy of profit before creativity. Eventually, supporting EA will destroy everything that you hold dear about gaming. It stifles and kills creativity for crunches and quarterly earnings. When it wants to do something new and creative it no longer has the ability so instead it consumes some other studio and leaches off of the fresh talent until all the life has been sucked out and all that the once-talented workers are good for is making Madden games and nickel-and-dime downloadable content.

Re:EA = Evil Acquisitions (1)

tbannist (230135) | about 7 years ago | (#20957593)

It's simple:

1) Build a Development House
2) Sell Development House to EA for $$$
3) Quit EA
4) Goto step 1

It's the ultimate money making scheme for those in the business.

Re:EA = Evil Acquisitions (1)

SonicTheDeadFrog (1155815) | about 7 years ago | (#20967143)

I'm all for pulling the rug out from under EA like that. The ONLY problem I see with that is that EA now owns any properties created by the early development house. I'm sure half of BioWare (if not more) will quit within a month and form another company, but Mass Effect - planned as a trilogy, is effectively dead now. I suppose they could do what Monolith did when they formed outside of Squaresoft and changed Xenogears to Xenosaga. Maybe Matter Effect, or Mass Affect? That would probably work if EA abandons the series.

Re:EA = Evil Acquisitions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20957649)

why are so many development houses willing to feed their brainchild to the evil empire?


BioWare sold out to Elevation Partners, EP sold out to EA.

Re:EA = Evil Acquisitions (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | about 7 years ago | (#20963803)

Ummm... bioware didn't sell to anybody. Might want to read a little closer, Bioware had no say in this at all. Their parent company, VG Holdings, are the ones who sold out. Bioware and Pandemic, being wholly own subsidiary companies, are without choice in the matter.

Re:EA = Evil Acquisitions (1)

SonicTheDeadFrog (1155815) | about 7 years ago | (#20967051)

I concede the point. I had not read the full article just the tagline at the time I wrote this - shouldn't have done that, but I was very angry and not thinking clearly.

The fact still remains, however, that at some point BioWare surrendered control of their own destiny, presumably for money, and now we all suffer because of it. So it is still BioWare's fault that they've been destroyed.

In its effort to produce positive spin, that article assumes overmuch about Ricceletto's intentions. EA has told a lot of new acquisitions that they were going to sit back and do the paperwork and let the developers continue, creativity unhindered. We have absolutely zero reason to believe that this will be any different than every other time that was a bald faced lie. BioWare is dead. At least we got one Mass Effect game before their demise.

And to all those who actually like EA, look forward to "Madden Effect 2009" coming next Christmas, the last 1/4 of the game will be available as a download off of XBOX Live for only $20.

Re:EA = Evil Acquisitions (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | about 7 years ago | (#20967091)

We agree at least that it doesn't bode well for any future titles that may come from EAoware

EA (1)

dauthur (828910) | about 7 years ago | (#20958583)

EA seems a little too eager to become to the largest monopoly in gaming. The problem is, they push their games too fast toward their ship dates which are set too soon. Games like Battlefield 2142 and NFS Pro-Street could be much, MUCH more awesome and much less glitchy. The problem with the entire NFS collection is the lack of realism in any regard. It's less like a driving similator and more like an arcade game. I don't like that. As for Battlefield, there's a huge market for hacking in that quadrant of the gaming world. Exploits are easy, glitches are too easy, and hacks are too readily available. If they spent more time on their games, maybe EA wouldn't NEED to purchase up every single gaming company in existance because it would turn into the most-loved company, and easily too. tl;dr: EA is an ever-growing monopoly and needs to be stopped.

Re:EA (1)

GregPK (991973) | about 7 years ago | (#20959843)

Check out Need for Speed Porsche Unleashed for the PC. Best one they ever made in my opinion.

Re:EA (1)

smash (1351) | about 7 years ago | (#20960917)

... and even that was crap :D I warezed it (off a friend), and even so I didn't bother to keep it installed more than say 45 minutes. I would not even bother wasting the bandwidth to download any of the NFS series. NFS 1 was pretty cool because the graphics were a revolution. Every one since has been ... "meh".

Re:EA (1)

GregPK (991973) | about 7 years ago | (#20986285)

I wouldn't say it was crap... For the time, it was quite realistic, and the difficulty level made it challenging to get through. I'm a realism guy what can I say.

Re:EA (1)

Xuranova (160813) | about 7 years ago | (#20963025)

Best one was Hot Pursuit 2 for the PS2.

Of Sequels and Money (1)

skeptictank (841287) | about 7 years ago | (#20963245)

Bioware has something that EA hasn't had since Bard's Tale - creativity. Things may go smoothly for a while, perhaps a good MMO and a few good single player games will emerge. But eventually things will go bad. EA is in the business of selling sequels and that can't last. They will eventually over extend themselves on high-cost sequel like Madden or Major League and have to suck out all of Bioware's resource out to meet the bills or they will take Bioware creations and run them into the ground (Knight of the old Mass Effect XXXIV).

OMG OMG - Oh, wait, FUCK! (2, Funny)

MWoody (222806) | about 7 years ago | (#20963493)

You son of a bitch. You don't include "fallout," "bioware," and "pandemic" in an article title like that, ever. Now I have to change pants, and all for naught.

Re:OMG OMG - Oh, wait, FUCK! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20979899)

I know eh? I lost control myself - and I dont even eat anything (too busy gaming) - I just started peeing out my will made manifest like streams of awesomeness.
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