Mass Effect "has been enormous" for EA, BioWare "doing great"
Posted: 22.08.2012 12:30 by Simon Priest Comments: 6
EA COO Peter Moore, formerly big boss of EA Sports, is not short on confidence in RPG developer BioWare. He declares they're "doing great," with many big successes over the past year or so.

BioWare has certainly had a rocky ride with the community these past 18 months, what with Dragon Age 2's fan reception, Mass Effect 3's ending and Star Wars going F2P.

You'd certainly be forgiven for believing the once 'untouchable RPG maker' had fallen from grace, especially after how vocal certain circles in the community have been with their latest stuff.

EA hasn't had its confidence shaken though, assures Peter Moore: "They're doing great."

"You say the last 12-18 months, I think of three things: I think of Star Wars: The Old Republic, I think of what Mass Effect 3 has done and all of the offshoots we've done of that, and then a little bit further back Dragon Age. So from that perspective I think the studio has done great," said the chief operating officer.

Mass Effect 3 debuted in March of this year but a furore soon boiled over the game's ending which was derided as a 'poor ending' to the trilogy of Commander Shephard and the Normandy crew. Complaints sprung from there being a lack of clarity over what exactly transpired at the end, and there being a lack of diversity in the epilogue.

In the US opening month for Mass Effect 3, NPD showed that just 1.3 million copies had sold in the US which isn't a great number for such a big franchise. However this didn't include digital sales, like those through EA's Origin platform, and the publisher openly questioned NPD's relevance. Mass Effect 3 brought in $200m in sales said EA back in May.

"Mass Effect has been enormous for us. It's done great," Moore said. "The public numbers bear that out." BioWare bowed to the anger and frustration of the community and announced they would be releasing an Extended Cut DLC at no charge to tie up loose ends with the story. It sparked an interesting debate within the industry about fan influence.

"It's been interesting with the whole ending thing," he said. "It's a fascinating debate. More power to gamers. They have the outlets now. I always say, people are passionate about movies, people really like music, people are into their TV shows. Nobody in entertainment has more passion and a bigger megaphone than gamers. And to their credit they put their hands up. A lot of them said, we're not sure about this ending in Mass Effect 3."

"So the team at BioWare, again, to their credit, said, all right, we're going to stop a few things right now, the team's going to go back and provide some DLC, no charge, to provide more context around what went on there. We delivered that recently."

BioWare's release of Star Wars: The Old Republic has been a mixed bag and now EA are adopting a free-to-play hybrid model for the MMO in order to keep revenue coming in as subscribers drop. It is rumoured to have been budgeted around the $200 million mark and analysts blame it for the dip in EA shares.

"It sold well," Peter Moore insisted. "Our challenge is we had got a lot of players who played it and got to a point where we started to see churn." EA was fully behind the subscription model, which has been waning over the years.

"What has happened is, when we embarked on this massive project, which is to bring the huge world of Star Wars and that universe and those characters to the world of MMO, the world of gaming was in a different place," he continued. "That was a world we felt good about there, that the business model was focused around subscription."

"Fast forward to where we are today and it's very clear the world has moved on and as such we need to move on. So rather than crying about spilt milk, the team said, we're going to evolve this into a hybrid model. You can still pay your $15 a month and have all you can eat, everything you want about Star Wars."

Around 40% who those asked why they quit The Old Republic said did so because they weren't interested in paying a monthly subscription fee, explained Moore. "We do exit interviews. When people say I'm churning out, I'm going to step away for a while, we ask them why. 40 per cent of people said, I just don't want to pay $15 a month. I love the game, but I'm just not into the subscription business."

"The reaction to that is, okay, let's retool this game later this year into one you can both play on a subscription basis and not worry about it and have everything you need, or one you can play for free and as you manoeuvre on you can choose to continue to play for free and there are micro-transactions that help you accelerate in the game."

"We're just reacting to consumer feedback by doing that."

BioWare is now working on Dragon Age 3, which according to a 'leaked survey' will task us with leading The Inquisition in Orlais as we look to try and put down the chaos that engulfs the world following the eruption of war between Mages and Templars. EA is yet to formerly announce Dragon Age 3, which is expected sometime in 2014.

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By nocutius (SI Elite) on Aug 22, 2012
BioWare themselves have my trust, their bosses unfortunately don't.
DA3 will be massively important, if they screw up third time in a row they could be in real trouble community wise.
By HenoKutus (SI Elite) on Aug 23, 2012
A Mass Effect spinoff with the ME3 engine would be better!
By herodotus (SI Herodotus) on Aug 23, 2012
"Enormous", I'd have top agree with as all the pre-orders would take care of that. "Doing great"? Not so sure. Saw "TOR" for $5 the other day - made me angry and disappointed together.
By lichlord (SI Core) on Aug 23, 2012
Funny how EA came first and then Bioware XD i honestly think Bioware needs to get rid of EA im positivly sure they can do much more and better with a less "greedy" publisher...
By Longsword (SI Core Member) on Aug 23, 2012
Bioware was far better before EA. KOTOR, Jade Empire, Baldur's Gate... those were made well and without all the "EA support".
By herodotus (SI Herodotus) on Aug 24, 2012
BioWare and EA are now inseperable in many gamer's minds (and those of EA bosses). Remeber they do weant to rename one BioWare office as EA something-or-other.