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EA grilled about BioWare and PopCap, explains situation

  • EA starts off by mentioning that Mass Effect was in development for a very long time, implying some if it's issues stem from that. A lot of the complaints are that it has old/last-gen feeling open world design compared to games like Zelda and Horizon, as opposed to just technical issues, so that's probably a notable issue.
  • EA notes Mass Effect reviewed worse than they would like overall, but got over 100 80+ reviews, so a lot of people liked what they got, while others did not.
  • EA notes that there's a lot more content and updates coming to the game.
  • EA states that they're very happy with BioWare and very excited for both the future of Mass Effect Andromeda as well as future games in the Mass Effect series.
  • EA then notes that the new IP is going really well, and that the delay is to be even more ambitious as opposed to any development issues. They feel this delay won't make the game feel old because this title is very innovative and doing things they don't expect anyone else to do anytime soon.
  • For PopCap, EA is super pumped about PopCap Vancouver (formerly BlackBox, makes Garden Warfare, no layoffs here) and said their titles do exceptionally well.
  • For PopCap Seattle (had layoffs), EA says the studio fell out of sync with the mobile market, and instead of making lots of small titles, they will focus on making fewer but more meaningful titles going forward. In the short term that caused some downsizing. He also mentions multiple platforms here, but I can't tell if he means no more timed iOS exclusives, or platforms beyond mobile.
  • EA insists that they're very committed to PopCap, both on the brands and studios front, and that people should not read into the mobile studio layoffs beyond what they just said here.
  • The audio of this question was hilarious. The transcript doesn't do the grilling justice.

Operator
Our next question's from the line of Mike Hickey with Benchmark.

Mike Hickey - The Benchmark Co. LLC
Hey, guys. Thanks for taking my questions. Just two for me as well. Curious if you could give us a deeper perspective, I guess on what's happening within BioWare. Mass Effect I think from a quality perspective didn't exactly hit the mark and it looks like we've now delayed the anticipated new IP which sometimes is also tied to quality. So curious if there's any change in leadership or developer turnover. What sort of [happening] internally within BioWare?

And then second question's PopCap. It looks like you have some layoffs in that studio. Obviously, that studio has good IP, [well], used to, as well as (50:52). I'm sort of curious how you see the future of PopCap. And also (50:57) tinkering with head count on the overall firm or any trends there we should think about through fiscal 2018. Thanks, guys.

Andrew P. Wilson - Electronic Arts, Inc.
So let me just make sure that was only two questions and not three or four. The first one is what's going on with BioWare; and should we read anything in from Mass Effect to the new title? So that [question], of course. And the question was what's going on at
PopCap and should we read anything in there? Was there a third question about head count overall? Or was that just head count related to PopCap?

Chris Evenden - Electronic Arts, Inc.
We lost Mike now.

Andrew P. Wilson - Electronic Arts, Inc.
Mike?

*silence*

Okay. Well, I'll answer...

Andrew P. Wilson - Electronic Arts, Inc.
And we'll go from there. The first thing is, is Mass Effect is an interesting title. It was in development for a really long time and represented a lot of the great things that BioWare is known for: story, size, depth, breadth, imagination. And while overall, the aggregate review scores were lower than we would have liked, we did have over 100 reviewers score the game at 80 or higher. So it represents a fan base that's very passionate; looking for very particular things. And many players found exactly what they're looking for and some players did not.

With that said, we believe Mass Effect (52:19) delivers a rich, deep experience which celebrates what makes the franchise great: wonderful, beautiful, deep rich worlds, amazing combat and engaging fast-paced, multiplayer. New multiplayer content is continuing to be released and new content kind of arriving overall more regularly so. We're very happy with kind of how BioWare is doing, how BioWare is treating Mass Effect. And our expectations for Mass Effect are still strong for the future and the franchise overall.

In terms of the new IP, the choice to move the new IP and what happened with Mass Effect are completely unrelated. The realities is we have a creative process. As a company, creativity and pioneering is really important for us. Now, innovation in games is important more now than ever. And as a leader in the industry, we see it as our responsibility to innovate. And as part of our creative process – and I get to be involved in that creative process – we recognize that there was so much more opportunity in a connected network social world to do some things in the new BioWare game that had never done before and we don't think anyone is going to do anytime soon. But by virtue of our network, our cross-platform presence and our scale, we think we can do that. And we chose to give the team some more time to deliver against that innovation because we believe players are looking for the kinds of things that we plan to put into that game.

And so we're very happy with BioWare. BioWare has continued to support Mass Effect, and the new team is doing some amazing things, and you'll hear more about that in the months to come. In terms of PopCap, again, I think there's a couple of different presence for PopCap. We have an amazing PopCap team in Vancouver that built Garden Warfare 1 and 2 on consol. That game continues to do extremely well, high critical acclaim, strong engagement, and strong sales over its life, so we're very happy with that team. The team's building against Mobile Games out of Seattle, recognize that the market continues to change, that brands are really important in the mobile space, but so is focus.

And the notion of building lots of small things really doesn't pay out the way it does in mobile like it did just a few years ago. And their decision was to refocus and really energize around a few core PopCap IP and that drove a slight change in structure there. But you shouldn't read into anything other than we are very, very committed to PopCap and very committed to PopCap IP, and very committed to bringing that wonderful IP to players across [multiple] devices in the future.
http://www.seekingalpha.com/article/4071402
 
May 17, 2010
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  • For PopCap, EA is super pumped about PopCap Vancouver (formerly BlackBox, makes Garden Warfare) and said their titles do exceptionally well.


  • Really happy to hear this. I was worried about this franchise when news of the PopCap layoffs dropped. Garden Warfare is good stuff.
 

barybll

Banned
Mar 19, 2016
568
0
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Phew, even though the new Mass Effect does not meet my expectation as a long-time fan, I do want a sequel.
If EA track record is anything to go by the next mass effect will be even worse.

Hell
If EA track record is taken into account, bioware is walking towards closure (like Maxis, Mythic etc)
 

Gator86

Member
Jun 23, 2013
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Well, that just confirms I may as well wait for the complete edition of Andromeda next year. Glad ME isn't dead...or so they say.
 

sirap

Member
Mar 1, 2013
6,110
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Malaysia
I really hope ME gets another chance. For all of Andromeda's faults this series still has a special place in my heart. There's just not enough games (if any) that handles space exploration and the themes that go along with it like Mass Effect does.
 
I really hope ME gets another chance. For all of Andromeda's faults this series still has a special place in my heart. There's just not enough games (if any) that handles space exploration and the themes that go along with it like Mass Effect does.
I get the impression that EA views the main issue being that the game came out with a game design from 1-2 years ago due to development issue delays (instead of increasing ambition delays) as opposed to a fundamental issue with the IP.

Like would a polished version of the exact same game have reviewed notably better in March 2016? I think tfhat's not impossible.
 

True Fire

Member
Oct 9, 2013
6,627
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complaints are that it has old/last-gen feeling open world design compared to games like Zelda and Horizon, as opposed to just technical issues, so that's probably a notable issue.
This is verbatim what I've been saying about Andromeda for months. Last gen game design isn't going to cut it in 2017. The issue was never the bugs; they came later and dominated the discussion.
 

Renekton

Member
Feb 21, 2014
17,726
3
0
Kuala Lumpur
EA starts off by mentioning that Mass Effect was in development for a very long time, implying some if it's issues stem from that. A lot of the complaints are that it has old/last-gen feeling open world design compared to games like Zelda and Horizon, as opposed to just technical issues, so that's probably a notable issue.
Welp that destroys my adapting-to-Frostbite theory.

Reminds me of Daikatana and Duke Forever (extreme examples sry) where development took too long until design paradigms shifted and they chased moving targets.
 

JeffZero

Purple Drazi
Dec 14, 2014
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Yeah, I definitely hope Mass Effect continues. Not a day goes by on this forum I don't somehow wind up mentioning my love for space opera, so I mean, it's substantial, and obviously I enjoy gaming. It's a match made in heaven and I hope to see at least a couple more games from this franchise going forward.

Right now, it feels like that's likely.
 

Darknessbear

Member
Apr 7, 2009
6,767
168
965
California
Please more Mass Effect, I loved Andromeda -- but it was big ol' mess, but it's also understandable due to its messy development and insanely ambitious nature (I finished it at 75 hours). I hope they don't get scared of making more, just put more support behind their developers.

Do we know how well it sold?
 

Nesther

Member
May 25, 2014
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0
355
I adored GW2. Can't wait to see what the team does next, I can see them giving the coop open world genre a shot, seeing as it's currently all the rage.
 

Renekton

Member
Feb 21, 2014
17,726
3
0
Kuala Lumpur
Please more Mass Effect, I loved Andromeda -- but it was big ol' mess, but it's also understandable due to its messy development and insanely ambitious nature (I finished it at 75 hours). I hope they don't get scared of making more, just put more support behind their developers.

Do we know how well it sold?
If the UK was any indication, it had a poor showing relative to previous entries and dropped off quickly (?)
 
Dec 18, 2014
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Please more Mass Effect, I loved Andromeda -- but it was big ol' mess, but it's also understandable due to its messy development and insanely ambitious nature (I finished it at 75 hours). I hope they don't get scared of making more, just put more support behind their developers.

Do we know how well it sold?
Didn't exactly set the world on fire, but it's seems to have charted well in all territories and didn't crater after the initial release window.

My bet is that it met targets, but didn't do much beyond that
 

Air Holland

Member
Mar 9, 2012
96
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New York, NY
I get the impression that EA views the main issue being that the game came out with a game design from 1-2 years ago due to development issue delays (instead of increasing ambition delays) as opposed to a fundamental issue with the IP.

Like would a polished version of the exact same game have reviewed notably better in March 2016? I think tfhat's not impossible.
This makes a lot of sense to me. Obviously it's a counterfactual so we can't know for sure, but March 2016 is less than 18 months removed from another Bioware property (Dragon Age: Inquisition, a game with its own extensively discussed flaws) winning several high-profile Game of the Year awards. The landscape had already started to change at that point (2016 is still a post-Witcher 3 world), but it's only continued to evolve since then.

At the point where EA had to make the decision to let ME:A development extend into early 2017, the competition in that launch window probably looked less formidable than it does in retrospect.
 

Bombless

Member
Oct 2, 2012
6,302
0
0
Please more Mass Effect, I loved Andromeda -- but it was big ol' mess, but it's also understandable due to its messy development and insanely ambitious nature (I finished it at 75 hours). I hope they don't get scared of making more, just put more support behind their developers.

Do we know how well it sold?
Probably better than it deserved, myself included. Hopefully the patch hitting today is good (though there is still at least one major patch for next month so all things considered this one might not be that big).
 

10k

Banned
Mar 20, 2012
15,860
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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
"We delayed Bioware Austin's new IP for creativity and quality reasons but we forced mass effect Andromeda out the door before the fiscal year ended so our numbers wouldn't be off for this shareholders meeting"

Fuck off, Wilson.
 

LiquidSolid

Member
Aug 15, 2010
10,415
0
0
WTF happened to PopCap? They used to be huge but aside from Garden Warfare, it feels like they've dropped off the face of the earth the last few years. I still don't understand why Peggle 2 is console exclusive (let alone launching as an Xbox exclusive), while PvZ2 is mobile exclusive.

Good to hear Mass Effect might have a future. I avoided Andromeda like the plague but I'd really like to see Bioware go back to the drawing board and work on the myriad of issues their games have. They need to focus on the quality of the content in their games, not the amount of it. Less waifu bullshit would be nice too.

Edit:
"We delayed Bioware Austin's new IP for creativity and quality reasons but we forced mass effect Andromeda out the door before the fiscal year ended so our numbers wouldn't be off for this shareholders meeting"

Fuck off, Wilson.
Bioware Edmonton's new IP, isn't it? From the old Mass Effect team.
 

Meowster

Member
Nov 27, 2013
6,383
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Missouri
I'm glad that there is still a future for Mass Effect. Andromeda was a mess but I truly did enjoy my time with it and look forward to playing more of it as the patches come out.
 

KillLaCam

Banned
Jan 6, 2017
1,883
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So I didnt really like Andromeda because of a billion small reasons but it wasnt a bad game. Im glad theyre getting to make another game. Don't want any more Deus Ex situations
 

10k

Banned
Mar 20, 2012
15,860
1
0
32
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
WTF happened to PopCap? They used to be huge but aside from Garden Warfare, it feels like they've dropped off the face of the earth the last few years. I still don't understand why Peggle 2 is console exclusive (let alone launching as an Xbox exclusive), while PvZ2 is mobile exclusive.

Good to hear Mass Effect might have a future. I avoided Andromeda like the plague but I'd really like to see Bioware go back to the drawing board and work on the myriad of issues their games have. They need to focus on the quality of the content in their games, not the amount of it. Less waifu bullshit would be nice too.

Edit:


Bioware Edmonton's new IP, isn't it? From the old Mass Effect team.
Oh yeah I forgot the Edmonton team as doing new stuff too. My bad.
 

RecRoulette

Member
Aug 28, 2015
13,158
1
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I really hope they announce a Garden Warfare 3 this E3. They wrapped up new events in GW2 a little bit ago, so I'm excited to see where they go next.
 

Spyder_Monkey

Banned
Aug 6, 2014
8,134
0
350
Colorado
"We delayed Bioware Austin's new IP for creativity and quality reasons but we forced mass effect Andromeda out the door before the fiscal year ended so our numbers wouldn't be off for this shareholders meeting"

Fuck off, Wilson.
Part of me thinks that their new IP is running into development troubles not unlike that of Andromeda.
 
Dec 18, 2014
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I hope they're serious about the future of Mass Effect and this isn't just lip service
Keep in mind that GAF's opinion on Mass Effect matters a whole lot less than whether people are buying the games or not. At least so far, signs point to MEA's sales being successful, even if it could have been better.

Mass Effect also provides EA with a sci fi RPG in their portfolio, which to the best of my knowledge, they otherwise lack.

Finally, Mass Effect (and BioWare games in general) traditional outperform typical AAA games in garnering female audiences. I don't know if EA particularly cares about this, but if they are interested in gathering consumer data about this group or simply getting more exposure with them, the Mass Effect games are an effective gateway
 

prag16

Member
Jul 12, 2012
11,425
2,956
835
I get the impression that EA views the main issue being that the game came out with a game design from 1-2 years ago due to development issue delays (instead of increasing ambition delays) as opposed to a fundamental issue with the IP.

Like would a polished version of the exact same game have reviewed notably better in March 2016? I think tfhat's not impossible.
I just look at Inquisition. Yeah it was somewhat more polished than Andromeda, but has some of the same problems (even worse in some cases) in terms of design; I feel strongly that if those two games switched places (release schedule-wise) Inquisition would be the one getting panned.

(Not that I think either one would necessarily deserve it; I'm personally VERY happy with Andromeda.)

Maybe you don't. But he does. And I do. And so do a lot of other people. But "stop liking what I don't like", right? -_-
 

diaspora

Member
Feb 18, 2013
19,069
0
395
"We delayed Bioware Austin's new IP for creativity and quality reasons but we forced mass effect Andromeda out the door before the fiscal year ended so our numbers wouldn't be off for this shareholders meeting"

Fuck off, Wilson.
lol, more time wouldn't have fucking changed fundamental design issues
 

Rodney McKay

Member
Jun 13, 2009
10,180
0
0
Hopefully this means they won't drag their feet so long with a Mass Effect Andromeda 2 or whatever the next game will be called.

As much as I loved the exploration worlds and the Maso in ME1, I wouldn't mind if they just left that alone and focused on doing more higher quality, linear missions than the planets filled with dull quests.

If they can get improve the technology a bit and make it come out in the next 2-3 years I'll probably be happy (and hire some actual voice actors, especially for the main character, and people who know how to write decent dialog).
 

prag16

Member
Jul 12, 2012
11,425
2,956
835
lol, more time wouldn't have fucking changed fundamental design issues
No, but another few months may have prevented the outrageous gif circlejerk that took place prelaunch, and poisoned the well somewhat with the game's reception.
 

jdstorm

Banned
Jan 21, 2016
5,940
0
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I get the impression that EA views the main issue being that the game came out with a game design from 1-2 years ago due to development issue delays (instead of increasing ambition delays) as opposed to a fundamental issue with the IP.

Like would a polished version of the exact same game have reviewed notably better in March 2016? I think tfhat's not impossible.
Wow. If that really is the case then the Mass Effect IP is screwed. Even assuming they fix all the bugs and apply AAA polish to ME:A2 its still a Halo 4 or Gears 4 esque Turd that killed a vast majority of peoples love for the series. The lack of polish gets criticized the most as pressing issue but its hardly ME:A's only fault.

Edit: there is obviously a lot of good stuff within Mass Effect Andromeda, people enjoyed it for a reason. However any Andromeda 2 needs to be a soft reboot that corrects all its many narative and character flaws if the series hopes to survive.
 

diaspora

Member
Feb 18, 2013
19,069
0
395
No, but another few months may have prevented the outrageous gif circlejerk that took place prelaunch, and poisoned the well somewhat with the game's reception.
This is true. Harder to gif meme though there'd still be plenty from the pre-release demos and streams.
 

Briarios

Member
May 18, 2009
4,208
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0
Tampa, FL
I literally just started playing Garden Warfare 2 today ... It's actually really good, there is a ton of content even if you just want to play single player. Makes me happy PopCap is doing well. I'll def get the next one at launch.