BioWare co-founder Greg Zeschuk has challenged the common perception of EA as a controlling overlord forcing its studios to shoe-horn unwanted elements into its games, saying what EA really provides is freedom and resources – so developers can make their own mistakes.
Speaking with GamesIndustry, Zeschuk said he ‘definitely rejects’ the notion of EA demanding multiplayer, micro-transactions and smart phone spinoffs for all games.
“The best analogy I use, in a positive way, is EA gives you enough rope to hang yourself,” he said.
“It was really interesting because we really made all the choices we wanted to make ourselves; these are all things we wanted to try. And that’s something to remember – while we were independent we didn’t have quite the resources we had as part of EA, and then we got to EA and it was like ‘wow we can do all this stuff.’ We had to be really thoughtful about what we wanted to focus on.”
Zeschuk said he distinctly remembers being a couple of months into BioWare’s buyout by EA and “sitting around asking how do we do stuff”.
“It dawned on us, you just do it. That was the biggest revelation, that rope that EA gives you; they don’t second-guess you, they don’t say you shouldn’t do that,” he said.
“We had complete creative control over a lot of it; some fans didn’t like some of it and some of it was experimental, quite frankly.”
Zeschuk said at the end of the day any company needs to turn a profit, so it’s important for teams within EA not just to experiment with “creative risks in trying crazy stuff”.
“Being independent I would say we had to be more conservative – being part of a big company, you could be more aggressive and try stuff. I think that’s something people [struggle with] when they join EA; they do too much or they do too little.”
EA acquired Bioware in 2007, just prior to the release of the blockbuster Mass Effect series.