BioWare’s arrangement with EA is designed around success,”we need to be careful”

By Stephany Nunneley, Thursday, 7 June 2012 21:01 GMT

Dorian Kieken, development director of BioWare’s Montreal studio, has said despite the seemingly comfortable position it’s in with EA may look, it hasn’t had “a crazy breakthrough success.”

While such a comment may seem odd coming from the maker of such franchises as Mass Effect, Kieken said the firm’s success comes from being organized, disciplined, and held accountable for its decisions. It has to be, really, as its arrangement with EA is designed around said success – and should it come to pass, its failures as well.

“Valve, Blizzard and Bioware all had a very similar profile over a decade ago: they were all doing very high quality games that people appreciated a lot, but at a huge cost and really not selling that much,” Kieken told GI International at E3.

“Before World of Warcraft, Blizzard as a company really wasn’t doing well. They were very expensive, and their revenue didn’t match how expensive they were. Valve, before the huge success of Steam, really wasn’t doing well financially either.

“They had the sort of breakthroughs that allowed them not to worry about money any more – they still do, of course, but to a lesser extent. We don’t have that yet at Bioware. If we have two games in a row, as expensive as we are, that don’t do well at all… we need to be careful.”

“For the very first time we have control of things that we’ve never had control of before, things like marketing. Marketing used to be a department we were always negotiating with, but that is part of our group now,” he says.

“Ultimately, EA comes to the BioWare boardroom and says. ‘Here is the amount of money you have, and here is the amount of money you need to generate in X years. The way you do it is your problem.’ So the growth of Bioware Montreal is in the context of the other Bioware studios. It’s because we’re successful with the Mass Effect series that we can grow a studio. It’s all within the Bioware label strategy.

“[The trust] is something very new… I have a lot of respect for John Riccitiello. He is trying to move the company towards a vision that is very smart, with a sort of city-state culture. Basically, you’re accountable only to generate revenue. I like that relationship of responsibility.”

Kieken went on to explain that any spending made by the firm has to be justified by the revenue it returns. Therefore, there’s no guarantee of financial stability for BioWare should the hits stop coming.

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