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Pondering EA's Move Towards Hardcore

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the object-to-the-idea-of-bioware-as-unspectacular dept.

Businesses 51

The site GigaOM is picking up its games coverage again, and kicks off with an article speculating on just what EA was thinking when it purchased BioWare and Pandemic. On the face of it, the move doesn't make much sense. BioWare is a great development house, but from EA's perspective their games are 'small potatoes'. "So why did they spend so much? The acquisition includes several titles for the Wii and DS already in development, and those may have breakout potential. There's tremendous gamer buzz around BioWare's upcoming RPG Mass Effect, but in all likelihood, it'll do similar numbers to the studio's million-plus-selling Knights of the Old Republic -- a hit, but not a huge one. There are rumors that BioWare is developing a 'Star Wars'-themed MMO, but if that's what inspired the purchase, the mystery only deepens: Sony Online's (SNE) MMO Star Wars Galaxies was a disappointment in relation to cost and anticipation, and that was released at the height of the buzz over a movie franchise that's since become old news."

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51 comments

Two words (3, Funny)

Reason58 (775044) | more than 6 years ago | (#21118189)

Madden's Gate. 08.

More words (4, Funny)

PrescriptionWarning (932687) | more than 6 years ago | (#21118301)

Product Title:
        Knights of the Old NCAA '09

Product Description:
        Use the force as you progress through the NCAA college basketball championship and March madness! Use powers such as force speed to cross the court in less than a second, force jump to slam dunk with a white midget, force push to knock over other players without causing a foul, and more... just don't use force lightning on the ball, or you'll get a penalty for exploding the ball!

Re:More words (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#21118485)

Knights of the Old NCAA '09
That sounds like a white supremacist made up the title...

Re:More words (2, Funny)

jfclavette (961511) | more than 6 years ago | (#21118625)

I'd play that.

"James going in for the dunk.... OH WHAT A FORCE PUSH BY SMITH !"

Re:More words (1)

analog_line (465182) | more than 6 years ago | (#21122095)

Uh, didn't Midway get here first? NCAA Jam?

Re:More words (1)

tbannist (230135) | more than 6 years ago | (#21129309)

But will it be as good as Gundam Dodgeball? ...

Yes, it's a real game [gamefaqs.com] ... They even made a sequel [gamefaqs.com] .

Re:Two words (1)

BadMrMojo (767184) | more than 6 years ago | (#21118519)

First quest? Sack Ten Quarterbacks.

Great, another tedious grind.

Re:Two words (1)

Fozzyuw (950608) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119095)

Madden's Gate. 08.

Hmm... an instance based team RvR game. I wonder how long you'll sit in bleachers until a game opens up to play.

Innovation (1, Interesting)

rickett81 (987309) | more than 6 years ago | (#21118199)

Many of EAs games are reworks of the same game with a new feature or 2 added: madden and the sims come to mind. Perhaps this is a way for EA to jumpstart some innovation - by buying people who are already innovative.

Re:Innovation (3, Funny)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#21118227)

Many of EAs games are reworks of the same game with a new feature or 2 added: madden and the sims come to mind. Perhaps this is a way for EA to jumpstart some innovation - by buying people who are already innovative.
Yes, and then they will run those innovations into the ground. *steeples fingers* Eeeeexcellent. Smithers, buy stock in EA!

Re:Innovation (0, Offtopic)

Tim C (15259) | more than 6 years ago | (#21118633)

Now admittedly I've only played the demo of Bioshock, but it doesn't really seem all that innovative to me. Yes, the plasmids are a nice idea, but they're really just another name for the nano augmentations of Deus Ex, or the psychic powers of System Shock 2. The ressurection chambers, from what I know of them, are straight out of the System Shock games. The storyline I can't really comment on, but a hidden Utopian society gone bad that's technically advanced in some ways but not others is something of a common idea in sci-fi.

I'm not saying that it's not a good game and well executed (and I'll most likely be buying it soon), but so far I'm not aware that it's in any way ground breaking. Of coure, that may be a failing of the demo; despite being a 1.5GB or so download it only lasts about 30 minutes.

On the other hand while I've never played any of the Madden games, I do agree about the Sims - especially the near endless procession of expansions.

Re:Innovation (1)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | more than 6 years ago | (#21118757)

Yeah, Bioshock is a good game there. Of course it doesn't have anything to do with the article, seeing as how it was made by Irrational (now 2K Games). Yeah, we're talking about BioWARE right here. :)

I think the Sims expansions make sense. The "game" is more like a doll house or train set. They're just adding to the kit because a) people like playing with it, b) people want to do more stuff with what they're doing.

I came here because I searched 'Hardcore' (1)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 6 years ago | (#21118637)

EA? They aren't even into Softcore. What would they know about Hardcore?.

Lack of own creativity, maybe? (5, Insightful)

F-3582 (996772) | more than 6 years ago | (#21118201)

Remember when they bought out Westwood and literally killed off the Command and Conquer and Lands of Lore series? They're probably thinking along the lines of "If we can't make decent games, no one should."

Re:Lack of own creativity, maybe? (1)

singingjim1 (1070652) | more than 6 years ago | (#21118261)

Man I used to play the shit out of Red Alert II: Yuri's Revenge. What a great game. I'd forgotten all about that. Sorry...was just reminiscing out loud.

Re:Lack of own creativity, maybe? (2, Interesting)

analog_line (465182) | more than 6 years ago | (#21121183)

Uh, killed off Command & Conquer?

I wasn't aware that Command & Conquer: Generals plus expansion, and Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars didn't have the Command & Conquer label on them! Whether you liked Generals or not (I sure did, and I don't like the previous Westwood efforts much at all, aside from the original RTS, Dune 2, which I enjoyed) they most certainly didn't kill it off. They took it in a direction you didn't like, that's not the same thing. Coming out with a C&C3 expansion isn't exactly killing it off, either. Nothing's really stopping you from playing Red Alert 2 and Tiberian Sun until the cows come home. They're perfectly servicable games even still. You might even want to check out C&C3. I just got it this week, and it's definitely a throwback to Tiberian Sun/Red Alert gameplay. Not that it's a good thing in MY view, but they certainly haven't shit the bed. I wouldn't ever have bought it if they hadn't brought out Generals and BFME 1&2 in between, games I still play (or would, if Generals didn't constantly mismatch after a certain amount of time installed, BFME 2 I still play quite a lot).

Looking Glass (1)

el_benito (586634) | more than 6 years ago | (#21135651)

Didn't EA do this to Looking Glass? *sniffles* and they wonder why we don't love

Galaxies didn't fail, Sony did. (4, Insightful)

MicktheMech (697533) | more than 6 years ago | (#21118243)

Even if there's no movie out I think a Star Wars theme will provide a much larger potential market than most other MMOS. I don't think the Galaxies failure will stop anyone that was completely due to Sony and had nothing to do with it being a Star Wars themed MMORPG.

Re:Galaxies didn't fail, Sony did. (2, Informative)

hansamurai (907719) | more than 6 years ago | (#21118985)

Agreed. Galaxies was nearly a disaster from the beginning and Sony continued to blunder at every step of the way. Other MMOs have succeeded without a giant billion dollar movie tie-in, people just recognize good stuff and crap when they see it.

Re:Galaxies didn't fail, Sony did. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21119303)

Galaxies didn't fail, Sony did.

I dunno, as much as I love Star Wars and MMOs, I feel SWG failed because it just doesn't fit well into an action MMO (like WoW and EverQuest are) for it's time line. Maybe it would work better in the prequels time line, but I dunno. It might just need to be a much more interaction than action MMO. Less fighting and more social discourse and world building. But that's not what the masses of Star Wars fans want. They want lightsaber duels and endless space battles, which isn't what Star Wars was about, but definitely made it much cooler. =)

Re:Galaxies didn't fail, Sony did. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21121457)

Except that SWG was never intended as an action-based MMO, it was an interactive 3d MUD, with crafting, then housing, then space.

The spectacular failings of SWG revolved around three things: The lack of space when released, the lack of development on space once implemented (They added what, asteroids and a few new ships with RoW? Still no 'boarding ship and flying off, or SMUGGLING, or PIRACY... I mean it's STAR WARS, most of the action should take place amongst the STARS, right?) And the second big failing was deciding: WE NEED TO BE MORE LIKE WOW!

The *WORST* thing you can do is take an existing game and try and shoehorn it into a completely seperate genre. SWG was in the '3D MUD' category, and when I say this I mean it even had queues and MUDlike commands. Most stuff could be scripted if so desired. WoW for example, while dungeon crawly, is really more of a 3d Diablo clone in a much larger world. The world itself is static, players can't really queue commands, meaning they have to be there while anything is going on, etc.

Sony's biggest problem was rather than saying 'We've got a solid playerbase, and a sustainable income: What can we do to expand and improve upon these, and leverage our existing playerbase to expand.' to 'OMFG t3h $h1n3yZ! Let's clone WoW, but using... SWG!' and thinking that they knew what was best for their players. While there was lots of play balancing that needed to go on, the original game design of SWG was interesting to work with. You couldn't master everything, but you could pick and choose enough to keep you entertained.

The game itself may not have been spectacular but it had features in it that allowed a sense of community to be forged without the backdrop of violence. (While there was plenty to be had, between crafting, housing, and the entertainer arts, there was plenty you could do without ever picking up a weapon.) The only things I could think of that would've improved it were the ability to model/build custom objects (ala SecondLife) and the ability to write music as an entertainer (forget all those silly pre-defined songs, how about taking the various instrument melodies and weaving them together yourself?)

But hey what do I know, I just play games I don't design/program them :)

Re:Galaxies didn't fail, Sony did. (1)

Interl0per (1045948) | more than 6 years ago | (#21120255)

The title is true, but I fear the time for rectifying this is past. WoW has completely changed the landscape since SWG released, and a new Star Wars MMO would be caught in a catch 22 of trying to hit the right marketing formula while avoiding comparisons to its predecessor (NGE, not Pre CU). And there is plenty of speculation that LA had as much to do with the NGE as SOE, or were at least complicit. I'm not up on the licensing technicalities, but I doubt any Star Wars title would ship without LA's touch upon it. With even the best possible intentions, the taint of the NGE may be hard to avoid. Add to this the fact that a KOTOR MMO would not tie-in well with Lucas' upcoming Star Wars projects (set in the Ep III-IV period); KOTOR brings a smaller (though possibly more infuential) demographic; and one would not be ready by the time the nwe Star Wars projects release anyway.

Lord of the rings (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21120629)

Turbine made a brilliant and high quality game that was far more stable and content-rich than most MMOs achieve within six months...and they still didn't garner near the support they expected.

Sure sony failed, but a strong brand and a high quality product isn't a guarantee of success.

I've said it before, I'll say it again (5, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 6 years ago | (#21118331)

Riccitiello paid off some friends [elevation.com] and himself [barrons.com] with his acquisition [gamespot.com] . Bioware and Pandemic aren't worth $840 million, since their total accumulated revenue since inception has barely been higher. Riccitiello made gobs of cash, his buddies made gobs of cash, and Bioware and Pandemic will be gutted for the sake of efficiency [arstechnica.com] . There's nothing else here. If anything, this will only be the milestone where EA will have started to go downhill. Goodbye Bioware. I hope the founders made enough money to start from scratch again.

Re:I've said it before, I'll say it again (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21118823)

EA will have started to go downhill
Started? Started??

Are you retarded?

Re:I've said it before, I'll say it again (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 6 years ago | (#21118929)

EA, for all its shovelware titles, is still raking in $3 billion in revenue - far more than anybody else. Going downhill in this case referred to their road to oblivion as a publisher.

Re:I've said it before, I'll say it again (1)

Chess_the_cat (653159) | more than 6 years ago | (#21122587)

I've a feeling that Nintendo's publishing division makes more.

KOTOR Online? (1)

Ritorix (668826) | more than 6 years ago | (#21118551)

In the post-WoW age, MMOs are expensive to develop and maintain. Mythic learned that while developing WAR - their vision was far larger than their wallet, and they sided with EA. With the talent of Bioware, the cash of EA and the name recognition of Star Wars, a KOTOR MMO is very possible. The only thing better would be...Baldurs Gate Online.

Re:KOTOR Online? (1)

servognome (738846) | more than 6 years ago | (#21124813)

The only thing better would be...Baldurs Gate Online.
You mean D&D Online, just set in Forgotten Realms? It would suffer between the ruleset, and the fact that it would have so many potential continuity issues like SWG

Commentators don't get it (2, Insightful)

ZorbaTHut (126196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21118609)

There are rumors that BioWare is developing a 'Star Wars'-themed MMO, but if that's what inspired the purchase, the mystery only deepens: Sony Online's (SNE) MMO Star Wars Galaxies was a disappointment in relation to cost and anticipation, and that was released at the height of the buzz over a movie franchise that's since become old news.


Yes.

That's because it was a bad game. Bioware is a good company because they make good games.

If you take a turd, and put a "Star Wars" label on it, you still have a turd, it's just that now you have a branded turd. It might sell a bit better but it's not going to be extraordinary. Maybe someone in EA has actually realized this?

Re:Commentators don't get it (1)

Travis Mansbridge (830557) | more than 6 years ago | (#21121993)

I'm sure someone would pay big bucks on E-bay for a Star Wars Turd.

Re:Commentators don't get it (1)

dintech (998802) | more than 6 years ago | (#21126127)

I'm sure someone would pay big bucks on E-bay for a Star Wars Turd.

Golden Palace, is that you?

There will NOT be a Star Wars MMO (1)

roguetrick (1147853) | more than 6 years ago | (#21118665)

Interesting rumor, and would be cool if it was true, however all things aren't pointing in that direction as much as they might be pointing to Bioware pushing an MMO based on some franchise its developing.

Pondering EA's Move Towards Hardcore... (4, Funny)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 6 years ago | (#21118723)

Are they going to change their name to "Erotic Arts"?

Re: Pondering EA's Move Towards Hardcore... (1)

dukieduke (918198) | more than 6 years ago | (#21122253)

If Erotic Arts it is, I say bring back M.U.L.E.! I haven't played that one since Tijuana.

Re: Pondering EA's Move Towards Hardcore... (1)

Ren.Tamek (898017) | more than 6 years ago | (#21122693)

"Are they going to change their name to "Erotic Arts"?"

Or "Electronic Ass" :). Although that might be more of a product description than a name...

SWG flopped because.... (3, Insightful)

Liquidrage (640463) | more than 6 years ago | (#21118759)

Sony Online's (SNE) MMO Star Wars Galaxies was a disappointment in relation to cost and anticipation, and that was released at the height of the buzz over a movie franchise that's since become old news.

That's because it sucked. Royally.
It was buggy, laggy (the commercial database that kept track of everything couldn't handle the 8 gazzilion read and writes a second their poor design called for. shocking!), the classes were boring, the progression repetitive, the rewards non-existant. You were asked to play as Background_Character_01 in a world where you wanted to be Luke or Darth. At least fantasy MMO's let you kill the occasional rare spawn, or eventually dragons and the like.

A good game is a good game. And that's no different for an MMO. WoW was a good game, that's why it did well. Most MMO's these days are just pure crap. If a company released something good, and polished, it would do fine. SW theme or no SW theme. But crap is always going to be crap.

Re:SWG flopped because.... (1)

C0rinthian (770164) | more than 6 years ago | (#21118855)

Man, if they do make a MMO based in the KOTOR era, it has so much potential to rock. Imagine Light vs. Dark factional PVP... *drools*

Re:SWG flopped because.... (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119541)

Oh, dear gods NO...

Just look at how PvPers whine now... imagine forums upon forums of Light Siders bitching and moaning because Force Lightning melted their face, and all they get is a stupid mind trick!

Re:SWG flopped because.... (3, Interesting)

WCMI92 (592436) | more than 6 years ago | (#21118893)

SWG (before the NGE) was a great game, it was just grossly mismanaged and buggy. When your developers are wasting more than half their resources on backroom top secret mass game revamps (NGE) that take away far more than they add the game isn't going to get fixed, it's going to get worse.

I played SWG through all that, from when we had over 300,000 players who were begging for them to FIX THE BUGS down to where it is now, 30,000 players begging for the game that we had previously back. Oh, and it's still just as buggy as ever.

SWG failed because of SOE, and I will tell you that I despise SOE for stealing my game, and watching them circle the toilet like some turd on it's way down gives me some satisfaction.

The Bioware MMO team is led by the former SWG lead producer and lead developer, Rich Vogel and Gordon Walton, who both quit SOE shortly before or after the first of 2005's twin atrocities, the CU (which we knew as the Combat Downgrade).

Re:SWG flopped because.... (1)

Liquidrage (640463) | more than 6 years ago | (#21137035)

SWG failed because Koster created a shitty game. I was there from release. The 300K is bunk. That's what sold at it's peak with the concourent free accounts counted. The player based left en masse and for good reason. Did you play the game at release? There was zero reason to play that came unless you liked mining resources. It was the only part at release that was interesting. Combat was crap. The rewards were crap. The jedi wasn't in, and as they stated was 1 in a 1000 (this is at release, not now). And that's ignoring the bs leveling scheme, the forced dance watching, and the brutal lag.

Re:SWG flopped because.... (1)

Knara (9377) | more than 6 years ago | (#21119783)

Sony Online's (SNE) MMO Star Wars Galaxies was a disappointment in relation to cost and anticipation, and that was released at the height of the buzz over a movie franchise that's since become old news.

That's because it sucked. Royally.
It was buggy, laggy (the commercial database that kept track of everything couldn't handle the 8 gazzilion read and writes a second their poor design called for. shocking!), the classes were boring, the progression repetitive, the rewards non-existant. You were asked to play as Background_Character_01 in a world where you wanted to be Luke or Darth. At least fantasy MMO's let you kill the occasional rare spawn, or eventually dragons and the like.

A good game is a good game. And that's no different for an MMO. WoW was a good game, that's why it did well. Most MMO's these days are just pure crap. If a company released something good, and polished, it would do fine. SW theme or no SW theme. But crap is always going to be crap.

QFT

SWG had a lot of potential, but Sony managed to kick it in the balls every time. Then again, this is SCE we're talking about, right? Anything they touch lately seems to be a disaster.

Plus, comeon. A Star Wars MMO where you had to wait years before you could fly an X-Wing or TIE Fighter? That's just begging to fail. Add that to the "never mind what we said before, everyone can be a Jedi!" and, well, yeah.

Re:SWG flopped because.... (1)

servognome (738846) | more than 6 years ago | (#21124983)

That's because it sucked. Royally
There are many people who would have disagreed (before NGE)

It was buggy, laggy (the commercial database that kept track of everything couldn't handle the 8 gazzilion read and writes a second their poor design called for. shocking!), the classes were boring, the progression repetitive, the rewards non-existant. You were asked to play as Background_Character_01 in a world where you wanted to be Luke or Darth. At least fantasy MMO's let you kill the occasional rare spawn, or eventually dragons and the like.
Not everybody wants to play as Luke or Darth. After the bugs were ironed out, there was definately a hardcore RP audience that loved the game. Some people like to explore what it would be like to be as that "alien in the corner of the cantina"

A good game is a good game. And that's no different for an MMO. WoW was a good game, that's why it did well.
WoW is a good "one-trick pony." What makes it popular is the one-trick is what most people want (PvE combat), and it does it better than anybody else. Other MMOs do things like crafting, PvP combat, character customization and a number of other features far better than WoW; but those things are not what the majority of players want.
SWG ended up being a good game for a specific audience (before NGE), WoW was a great game for a different (but larger) audience.

Re:SWG flopped because.... (1)

tbannist (230135) | more than 6 years ago | (#21129589)

Actually, I would suspect that a majority of players do want those things.

The trick with WoW is that it's community that keeps many people playing WoW and the character designs are appealing to most people (even if some armor sets are incredibly ugly). In general the prettyness of the game, and the newness of it got a large audience to try it out. Now they're kind of stuck playing it, because they don't really want to start over in a new game if it's only better in a few ways, or only marginally better in every way. They're invested in their current characters and their current friends. However, if Blizzard managed to colossally screw something up, then you might see more migrations away from it.

My 11-year-old's opinion, FWIW (1)

RobertB-DC (622190) | more than 6 years ago | (#21118953)

I've been keeping my kid up-to-date on the latest EA+Pandemic news, since "Destroy All Humans" 1 and 2 are his current favorite games. I had to break the news to him that the Slashdot current wisdom is that the aquisition is a Bad Thing. Any reason I, um I mean, he should be hopeful for a "Destroy All Humans 3" that doesn't suck?

(My opinion: "Destroy 2" is too touchy-feely. I thought the name of the game was "DESTROY ALL HUMANS", not "Help humans say no to drugs and get in the tight-fitting pants of a hot female Russian agent". But the kid likes it...)

Re:My 11-year-old's opinion, FWIW (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21128019)

Neither Pandemic or EA will have anything to do with the next installment of Destroy All Humans! Destroy All Humans 3 is being developed by Sandblast Games [wikipedia.org] which is an in-house development studio for THQ. The IP and publishing rights to the game are still owned by THQ. At best, the game will be more of the same methinks.

Do we need such clueless blogs? (1)

Jartan (219704) | more than 6 years ago | (#21120449)

WTF is GigaOM and who is this clueless guy commentating? It's pretty clear he doesn't know much about the industry he's pontificating on and that he's just flamebating.

A blog/article discussing the ramifications of the deal is good for the games section of Slashdot but I think even if an inflamatory one was needed a better one could of been easily found.

Moving toward hardcore? (1)

sehlat (180760) | more than 6 years ago | (#21121297)

So we're going to see "Ron Jeremy 2008"?

Re:Moving toward hardcore? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21123061)

So we're going to see "Ron Jeremy 2008"?

If there was ever a better time to say "DO NOT WANT," I don't know when it was.

Re:Moving toward hardcore? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21125355)

"Porno the Hedgehog"?
"Helga's Gate"?

or how about
"Neverwinter Nights: Shadows of Undrentide"/"Hordes of the Underdark". Hey! Didn't even have to change those. Sounds like veneral diseases though.
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