BioWare is a company known for massive franchises like Mass Effect, Dragon Age, and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, but those popular series may have been brought to an early end. While speaking at HavenCon, select members of the Dragon Age 2 team painted a bleak picture for BioWare about 10 years ago.
The panel, consisting of former Mass Effect lead writer Patrick Weekes, lead editor Karin Weekes, and former Dragon Age writer David Gaider, talked about how Electronic Arts’ acquisition of BioWare prevented the studio from going bankrupt. The panel admitted that Dragon Age 2 was “very rushed” because EA had just recently acquired the studio. However, the game still became critically-acclaimed, scoring high marks from critics.
The game’s rushed nature was apparently a byproduct of BioWare’s need to show EA a finished product. But without the acquisition, BioWare would not have lasted much longer, as the studio had “essentially run out of money.”
While on the topic of money, the panelists mentioned how Electronic Arts’ “chief concern is money,” but they quickly elaborated that EA”rarely push[es] for anything specific or [tells] BioWare what to do.” The BioWare devs clearly wanted to squash any presuppositions that EA forces specific features or decisions onto studios.
The members explained that if BioWare wants to do something “risky,” giving an example of Krem from Dragon Age: Inquisition, the type of response they usually get is “do you think you can do it right?” While it is quite typical to hear that EA’s chief concern is money (the company was ranked the 5th most hated company of 2018), it is relieving to hear that the company takes a less hands-on approach with its studios.
So while EA may put pressure on these studios to deliver a successful product, the publisher does allow developers to preserve their vision. It’s no doubt a surprise to hear for many gamers, but the Dragon Age 2 team members painted a mostly positive picture of Electronic Arts.