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Fallout From the BioWare/Pandemic Buyout 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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Fallout From the BioWare/Pandemic Buyout

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  • by dtolman ( 688781 ) <dtolman@yahoo.com> on Friday October 12, 2007 @09:49AM (#20952811) Homepage
    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...
  • the MMO? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by genrader ( 563784 ) <genraderNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday October 12, 2007 @09:50AM (#20952831) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 12, 2007 @10:03AM (#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.
  • by techpawn ( 969834 ) on Friday October 12, 2007 @10:04AM (#20953091) Journal
    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...
  • by dtolman ( 688781 ) <dtolman@yahoo.com> on Friday October 12, 2007 @10:18AM (#20953333) Homepage

    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...
  • by BarneyL ( 578636 ) on Friday October 12, 2007 @10:46AM (#20953805)
    The difference between Microsoft and EA is that Microsoft wants to destroy the competition. EA seem out to destroy the industry.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 12, 2007 @10:49AM (#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:the MMO? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Reapman ( 740286 ) on Friday October 12, 2007 @11:11AM (#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.
  • by azuredrake ( 1069906 ) on Friday October 12, 2007 @11:32AM (#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.

What is algebra, exactly? Is it one of those three-cornered things? -- J.M. Barrie