Is EA killing BioWare? Part 2 of 4

by manylaughs on August 14, 2012

EA merges BioWare and Mythic, diluting BioWare’s quality

About a year after completing the purchase of BioWare, Electronic Arts (EA) merged BioWare with its other MMO property, Mythic Entertainment. It would take EA about a year to officially name their new division, but based on reporting from Joystiq and others, the merge began in 2009 when Mythic’s Warhammer: Age of Reckoning (WAR) was showing rapidly declining subscription numbers. EA’s rationale was to place all their role-playing assets in one division.

Mythic made its mark with the MMO Dark Age of Camelot (DAOC). DAOC was especially innovative for its strong player-versus-player (PvP) elements, but it was also a buggy game. Mythic followed DAOC with WAR, a game that suffered from staggering class imbalances and was even buggier than DAOC.

WAR released in September, 2008. WAR was the first game Mythic produced as a division of EA. Sadly, WAR was a flawed game and the game’s management team never seemed to know what to do. Problems escalated exponentially. Mythic constantly adjusted and readjusted character classes, nerfing classes into the ground and over-powering others. When players complained too loudly in the forums, their threads were shut down, not exactly endearing the management team to the community. Bugs never seemed to get fixed, but they had time to tinker endlessly with the gameplay, gradually dumbing WAR down. Management seemed to flounder, desperately looking for the magic formula that would somehow make a failing game hugely profitable rather than trying to maintain the player base they had.

WAR started out looking like a resounding success, but once its many faults became apparent players left in hordes.

The tendency was to point the finger of blame squarely at Mythic, but at this time Mythic had been an EA property since the end of EA’s second fiscal quarter in September, 2006. Mythic made an enjoyable game in DAOC while they were still independent, but under EA’s ownership they produced WAR, a game that essentially destroyed Mythic’s reputation with the gaming community.

Before Star Wars: The Old Republic, there was Warhammer: Age of Reckoning. WAR was the first MMO EA hoped would be its WoW cash cow. It wasn’t. WAR was a monumental failure.

Now, the same seems to be happening at BioWare. After years of producing high-quality products, they’ve produced 2 shoddy products – Mass Effect 3 and Dragon Age II – and one monumental failure – Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Merging BioWare’s staff with Mythic’s was probably the greatest blow to BioWare’s quality. At the time of the merger, Mythic was no longer the studio that had produced DAOC. They were always known for their bugs, but after being bought by EA it was clear their quality control and management suffered, too.

When EA merged BioWare with Mythic it was the equivalent of filling your half-empty Brita water bottle with runoff from a drainage ditch. What’s the diff? It’s all water, right? In EA’s corporate mind-think it is.

Tomorrow, in part 3, to EA, all employees are widgets.

Is EA killing BioWare? Part 1 of 4

Is EA killing BioWare? Part 3 of 4

Is EA killing BioWare? Part 4 of 4

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