EA guy rants about WH:O and a bit about SW:TOR
Some guy at EA rants a bit about how they f-ed up Warhammer Online and also a bit about how the same thing is about to happen to Star Wars: the Old Republic.
I REALLY hope the latter is not true and it is just a rant from a disgruntled employee, but it makes me worry nevertheless... 🙁
EA Artist, Soon To Be Laid Off, Burns EA Management
Posted on Tuesday, October 12 @ 1931 Eastern by Nick_Tan
An anonymous artist at Electronic Arts dishes the dirt on why Warhammer Online was a failure and who exactly in upper management is to blame. Oh, yes, let the flame-throwing begin!
On the VN boards for Warhammer Online, in a now suspiciously deleted post entitled "Why Warhammer Failed" (posted here and EALouse's Wordpress account in its entirety and unedited):
I would think myself to be part of some noble cause, like the original EA Spouse trying to save her husband from a hellish work environment at EA. That had a happy ending, however, with tons of publicity and a total change of overtime wages and salaries and how they are handled within the company. I do not expect a happy ending, so Ill be personal and selfish, and this is just for me.
So just call me EA Louse.
I found out recently that I will be dismissed from Bioware Mythic during the next round of layoffs EA coming this November. Im sick of seeing EA outsource their art and find every excuse to get rid of us and still not achieve anything. Mythic is dying, and its not us who killed him but were taking the fall.
But if you want to know what really went down with Warhammer, Ill tell you right now.
First, the project leaders did not know what they were doing. Jeff Hickman was the saddest excuse for a producer Ive seen. All he did was drink the Koolaid and suck up to the right people. He was the perfect yes-man, and this reached down to almost all managers.
My boss who will not be named, again and again would tell us that Rob Denton, one of the original owners, said we should do this and do that and we would say omg it makes NO sense, please explain A, B, and C to him. And then he'd come back and tell us, after we thought he had gone to talk with him, No, Rob wants in this way. Jeff agrees, this is what were going to do. Understood? They never actually talked back to Rob. We didnt talk back to them.
Rob said jump, our leaders said, How high?! And on who?
So we shut up and did what we were told, by people too afraid to tackle real problems. It is a culture of fear, especially since Mark Jacobs was fired.
Oh, he left voluntarily you say? No, he was fired, and everything placed on his shoulders by those closest to him so they could divide his salary and annual bonus. I bet Rob is enjoying that sweet new Maserati he bought after leaving the knife in his partner of 15 years.
Want to know more? Keep reading. I can keep ranting.
Rob was never there during the development of Warhammer. We always joked about when his next weekly holiday was coming. (Answer? Next week!) Mark was not available, was way too head down trying to design his own contributions or whatever. Rob always handled things. We were told NOT to speak with Mark in person, never, or else we would be explaining to Rob.
The coup began long before Warhammer, and Jacobs did not even realize it.
And yet, this is common gossip in the company, and nobody in this industry seems to get it. So get it! Rob was responsible for the entire project, then blamed Mark when things went wrong.
Ah, but could not do it alone. No, he needed Jeff Hickman, promoted from customer service to produce the Warhammer project. Wait, let me let you have that sink in. The man running customer service, on the theory that the management of a large team of CSRs qualified him to run a game development project, was put in charge of a $50 million project with no previous experience.
And he needed Eugene Evans, the man who brought you the almost non-existent marketing campaign behind Warhammer. We could not even believe how bad they fucked up the marketing campaign. There was almost none. We slaved for years, and this is how we were rewarded for it by Eugene and the people of EA? Being told that Warhammer was not worth a lot of money spent on it? LOL. Now he's in charge of Bioware Mythic.
Oh yeah, and he needed Paul Barnett. You know him as the crazy British dude that appears in random videos at EA to promote his latest bullshittery. We know him as the crazy British dude who we have no idea of how he still has a job. This man was supposed to be the savior of Warhammers vision and design. Now all he can do is promote his strange ideas about his little secret project web Ultima game that's been almost universally criticized by all of us and focus groups. Whats that? You didn't know Paul loves one of those old Ultima games sooooo much he's making a literal copy of it for Facebook? Well, the cats outta the bag. Too bad it sucks ass.
So what do they all have in common? All of them failed, badly, in Warhammer, and each of them is in a position of authority in the new company, while the rest of us are facing pink slips. How do they sleep at night? They spin aruond, blame everything on Mark, divide his old salary between them, and never speak about it again. Oh, and they fuck us little guys as well.
Almost makes me congratulate them for having the balls, but after watching them work, it's obvious they dont have any. They're cowards running scared trying to hide under the wing of Bioware, now that Rob has become a general manager of EA.
And Bioware? Don't make me laugh. They've spent more money making the Old Republic than James Cameron spent on Avatar. Shit you not. More than $ 300 million! Can you believe that?
And you know what they're most proud of? This is the kicker. They are most proud of the sound. No seriously. Something like a 20Gig installation, and most of it is voiceover work. That's the best they have. The rest of the game is a joke. EA knows it and so does George Lucas,they're panicking , and so most of Mythic has already been cannibalized to work in Austin on it because they can't keep pushing back launch.
Old Republic will be one of the greatest failures in the history of MMOs from EA. Probably at the level of the Sims Online. We all know it too
Anyway, back to Warhammer. We shouldn't have released when we did, everyone knows it. The game wasn't done, but EA gave us a deadline and threatened the leaders of Mythic with pink slips. We slipped so many times, it had to go out.
We sold mor ethan a million boxes, and only had 300k subs a month later. Going down every since. It's now, but guess what? Even Dark Age and Ultima have more subs than we have. How great is that? Games almost a decade make more money than our biggest project.
So there it is. Rewarding the incompetent. Firing the competent.
I say it anonymously so I can keep my next few paychecks coming.
So I'm a louse. A big fat EA louse.
Want some more questions answered? Ask away.
Intresting reading and if that More than 300 million price tag is any where near accurate for the Old Republic its no wonder that they are panicking if it fails.
I personally liked this little rant and yeah it may be a bit unprofessional but if EA was smart they would look into its staff. Because there is too much money on the line and many, many jobs if SWTOR does not meet the bar. I know a few months ago I was pretty excited about SWTOR but I have been waiting for about 2 yrs now and nothing really impresses me about it now. Yeah the poster was right they should be proud of the voice over work. But at what cost? A MMO is completely different animal to a standalone game with MP.
If the cost estimate is true of 300mil (which I think it is, I have seen that figure before). Than EA/BioWare will need to sell 6mil copies just to break even, and I doubt that will happen. People will wait for the initial feedback before diving into the game. And with the eventual beta coming soon, depending on how it performs could be the nail in the coffin before it is even released. SW fans are pretty picky about their game lore and the game needs to be less restrictive in my view to be successful.
This is the way I look at SWTOR. Bioware seems like it is making a story based MMO in the star wars universe, which for me I like a good story in a game. But I would also want the PvP battles and epic battles with the Republic/Empire. If SWTOR is just a glorified KOTOR3 then I will not get this game at all. I really want to see a lot when it comes to character development and open worldness and of course the PvP. Just because a game has the Star Wars name attached to it doesn't mean its an instant success, flashy dialog and cutscense is nice but is it worth your $15 a month to play it? They better should the hardcore fan the substance behind your character and what you can do with it.
But we'll see.... 🙂
I have suspected EA was in trouble for some time. The first whiff I got was the release of C&C4. I thought then, this is a company in trouble that has lost direction. This quote took me back to Commodore's great crash, "So there it is. Rewarding the incompetent. Firing the competent."
It's sad that history keeps repeating itself, but true. If you put fools in charge of anything, no matter how talented those below them are, disaster will always follow. It's not too late for EA to turn things around, but as often happens in cases like this, "the incompetents" in charge will run the company into the ground instead of losing face. How sad 🙁
EA got bugger all chance of selling 6 million copies.
Starcraft is the biggest hit on the PC but it only at number 18 according to this chart of the biggest selling games this year.Although its only had ten weeks of sales. http://www.vgchartz.com/yearly.php
It's such an indictment of our society than any time money moves into any sphere you care to name then corruption and incompetence are never far behind. EA have long exemplified this in the Gaming world, Lucas being a fine example of it in just about every other medium...oh, and gaming from about 1994 onwards.
I remember the boasts about the voice acting being lampooned on RockPaperShotgun, where their video was derided for starting off with "one of the finest actors of the 20th century" - meaning, of course, Alec Guinness as Obi Wan Kenobi - and then switching immediately to some of the worst, over-cooked action dialogue ever recorded. And they were proud of it.
EA even tried to convince us that they were a much better company now, that they'd learned the mistakes of the past and were willing to listen to gamers and to not act like a monstrous wolf let loose in a hen house. I never believed it: this apparent about-face came too easily, with no sacrifice.
Now I see my scepticism was justified. I'll be watching this one very closely as I'm sure the game's horrible death agonies will be entertaining to watch.
🙂 Don't think it will be a total failure. Just doubt it will rake in 3mil subscriptions per month for long if at all.
There is one key factor to that list... there isn't one MMO on it. MMO's rarely make these lists because of the monthly fee. Bioware is building content for SWTOR I give them that. But how much content? Like most MMO's it will be a pump and dump. I made the mistake of trusting Age of Conan's hype machine and look what that got us 🙂 Now BioWare could make a decent living off of 1mil subs for SWTOR. That would be 15mil a month, definitely enough to keep game running and content packs coming.
How long will it take to get 1mil sub,Warhammer was realased in 2008 and the article says
We sold mor ethan a million boxes, and only had 300k subs a month later. Going down every since. Its stable now, but guess what? Even Dark Age and Ultima have more subs than we have. How great is that? Games almost a decade make more money than our biggest project.
Granted we talking about StarWars but if they have spent 300mil they will want to make there money back as soon as possible and how many of the big MMO apart from WOW have 6 mil sub and how long did it take them to get that many.
Is Age of Conan still on the go or has it crashed as well.
Just a thought if they have spent that amount of money on it what the monthly going to be.
It will definitely be the going rate avg of $15 per month, I would be shocked if they went less and even more shocked if it is higher.
Not saying the MMO market isn't strong. But its the fact that it is a MMO. If SWTOR was a standalone game with MP I would say it would make its money back without issue. What was it Rockstar needed to make I think 400-500mil on Red Dead Redemption to break even they have made over 600mil on the consoles not counting the PC sales and all that DLC they sell.
But when your paying a monthly fee on top of the box copy you suddenly become more critical and picky to the game and its content because if you play for a year your game cost you over $200+. So basically this game has to have the content and the draw of at least 4-5 PC games that you would buy in a year to make it worth your purchase.
And knowing that there is still a lot of people mad over SWG MMO that people will probably be even more critical of the game. MMO's are a tough business and only the strong do survive 🙂 You have to give props to Blizzard for WoW because they have done a good job keeping there subs consistent and selling expansions to boot.
I haven't done much reading on SWTOR lately but I will over the next few days so I can better judge this game.
It wouldn't be so bad if these mega corp money making machines didn't flog the mummified remains of the proverbial horse.
Clone after clone of the same ideas will eventually lead to failure in one way or another regardless of how well managed it could have been.
Of course this is only my personal opinion but games need to be more involving and take a different direction instead of your bulk standard harvest-build-destroy-rinse-repeat mentality.
A new scent needs to be introduced to this smokey closet of FPS/RPGs and ideas are running thin.
People will pay for the latest game simply because they are hoping it will be something closer to the next thing.
The market is completely saturated with glorifying graphics or sumptuous sounds that we no longer know what it is to be amazed by something new.
I mean TRULY taken aback, like the days of the Voodoo 3D cards. The first add-in graphics cards.
Take out the option to kill anything and people think it is a development tool or a "Sim" clone.
This guy was probably an old school gamer who has seen the trend of gaming grow into something green. Green as the colour of money and it makes me mad to see people's hard work thrown to the four winds simply to profit a few suits.
But that is the way of the world. Who am I to change that right?
aye capitalism is a hard one to beat.
but I think SW:TOR does have some points going for it, I mean full voice acting is something only done in SP games. Also the fact that there's gonna be a storyline to follow, and I don't mean walls of text to click through without reading. Add to this choice and consequence which is almost unheard of in MMO's. When i first heard and read about this and watched some of the vids on their site my first reaction was: this is a single player game in an MMO world.
then again, suits tend to ruin allot of things and I hope this won't be one of them...
PS if yer wondering about the C&C in TOR, watch this vid...
Real shame about EA is that they used to such a great developer/publisher back in the 80s early 90s, then in the mid nineties it all went pear shaped. When you think about all the developers they have hovered up over the years then only close them down a couple of years later, 👿 not to mention all the classic IP that they have just sat on without doing anything with. 🙄
for those interested, the little rant i linked seems to have set of a number of responses. (read: a ****storm has hit the fan)
read up more at the original link, because that EALouse has linked to allot of responses
Warhammer Online failed? How dare he say that!
I would say yeah for WAR. Because all the friends I knew that played it no longer play it. All that extra ranting in the blog is some interesting reading. Shame that $$$ has taken over the creativity of large developers now. I always thought if your spending big money on game development you might as well do it right and get a solid following of dedicated gamers.