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Star Wars: The Old Republic Forum » General Discussion » Dr. Greg Zeschuk explains his departure from EA's subdivision BioWare in a recent interview: "I just felt like my passion was waning", "The fire wasn't there"

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42 posts found
  Karteli

Apprentice Member

Joined: 7/09/12
Posts: 2704

 
OP  1/29/13 10:37:38 AM#1

 

The long, strange journey of BioWare's doctor, developer, beer enthusiast

Jan 28, 2013

http://www.polygon.com/2013/1/28/3924078/bioware-greg-zeschuk-beer-diaries

 

Some excerpts from the article, most notably some of the quotes:

 

"I just felt like my passion was waning," Zeschuk said of his decision to leave BioWare in September.

"I think one of the reasons that we survived and succeeded within EA was that our company was mature enough and there was enough good people throughout to handle the EA bear hug — something that is well meaning but vigorous," he said. "We needed to be strong to survive that and I think we did and you evolve from that as well."

Just why Zeschuk lost his passion for gaming remains a bit unclear. Was it because of the sale to EA, Star Wars: The Old Republic's relatively small subscriber base, the anger some fans felt over the ending of the Mass Effect trilogy?

"One of the few things I find kind of funny is the responses of the fans, because they sort of respond that they are kind of mad at us for leaving because they think we owe them more games. You know it's sad I wish I could deliver on that, but I don't think I would be as good as I was in that space historically. Like I said, the fire wasn't there."

When Zeschuk said his goodbyes last year, he wrote that there was a strong possibility he wouldn't be returning to the game industry. Does he still feel that gaming isn't something he'd come back to?

"Yeah, it's probably not," he said. "I'm having fun doing [beer brewing], so probably not. We'll see, but I'm not planning on it at this point for sure."

 

I imagine being bought by EA was draining the morale of Bioware employees.  Zeschuk even refers to EA as a bear hug.  Perhaps that helps to explain why a $200-$300 million dollar game failed to deliver the most comprehensive Star Wars experience ever?  The high job turnover rate at EA's Bioware subdivision probably didn't / isn't helping either.

 

In other words, EA just sucked the life and creativity out of everyone working on the project. :-/  .. although Dr. Zeschuk was far more political about it.

Want a nice understanding of life? Try Spirit Science: "The Human History"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8NNHmV3QPw&feature=plcp
Recognize the voice? Yep sounds like Penny Arcade's Extra Credits.

  Aeonblades

Apprentice Member

Joined: 10/12/12
Posts: 2123

1/29/13 10:45:20 AM#2
EA does more than suck the life out of games, I bet they could suck a golf ball through a garden hose.... out of a black hole.

Currently Playing: ESO and FFXIV
Have played: You name it
If you mention rose tinted glasses, you better be referring to Mitch Hedberg.

  ignore_me

Apprentice Member

Joined: 7/04/11
Posts: 2034

1/29/13 10:50:05 AM#3
I think historically Bioware itself is the real bad guy here. The bad decisions are legion and characterize the past, present, and in all probability the future of SWTOR. There was pressure from EA toward the end of development, but Bioware had long since fucked up the original design at that point.

Survivor of the great MMORPG Famine of 2011

  Aeonblades

Apprentice Member

Joined: 10/12/12
Posts: 2123

1/29/13 10:50:59 AM#4
Originally posted by ignore_me
I think historically Bioware itself is the real bad guy here. The bad decisions are legion and characterize the past, present, and in all probability the future of SWTOR. There was [ressure from EA toward the end of development, but Bioware had long since fucked up the original design at that point.

I will agree with this to an extent. Everything they have done since ME2 has been pretty much crap.

Currently Playing: ESO and FFXIV
Have played: You name it
If you mention rose tinted glasses, you better be referring to Mitch Hedberg.

  Karteli

Apprentice Member

Joined: 7/09/12
Posts: 2704

 
OP  1/29/13 11:03:38 AM#5
Originally posted by Aeonblades
Originally posted by ignore_me
I think historically Bioware itself is the real bad guy here. The bad decisions are legion and characterize the past, present, and in all probability the future of SWTOR. There was [ressure from EA toward the end of development, but Bioware had long since fucked up the original design at that point.

I will agree with this to an extent. Everything they have done since ME2 has been pretty much crap.

EA owned BioWare far before that, since 2007:

EA buying BioWare/Pandemic for $860M

October 11, 2007

http://www.gamespot.com/news/ea-buying-bioware-pandemic-for-860m-6180818

 

SWTOR was unveiled post EA buyout:

Star Wars: The Old Republic revealed

October 21, 2008

http://www.gamespot.com/news/star-wars-the-old-republic-revealed-6199726

 

What BioWare was working on prior to 2007 was speculative, but rumors were KOTOR 3.  Nothing officially released until 2008.  So EA had essentially 4 solid years to implement their own "corrections" for SWTOR (if the blame falls on BioWare) from Oct 2007 to SWTOR's release: Dec 2011, but they didn't ... it's more plausible that the damage occured while EA was at the helm, not Bioware when they were independent..

Want a nice understanding of life? Try Spirit Science: "The Human History"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8NNHmV3QPw&feature=plcp
Recognize the voice? Yep sounds like Penny Arcade's Extra Credits.

  ShakyMo

Apprentice Member

Joined: 11/21/11
Posts: 7246

1/29/13 11:07:11 AM#6
It's an interesting interview to read alongside the marc Jacobs one.

There's one overriding message here. DON'T SELL OUT TO EA.
  Ahnog

Advanced Member

Joined: 7/18/05
Posts: 232

1/29/13 12:20:21 PM#7
The overriding message is that he lost the fire in the belly. He didn't blame it on EA.

Ahnog

Hokey religions are no replacement for a good blaster at your side.

http://www.ahnog.us

  tiefighter25

Novice Member

Joined: 7/30/12
Posts: 949

1/29/13 4:15:49 PM#8

I'm not going to pull quotes, but the timeline is aong the lines of the following:

Lucas Arts awards Bioware the license for an open secret Star Wars MMORPG to compete directly with WoW.

John Riccitiello had left EA to form Elevation Partners Investment group. Elevation bought Bioware.

Bioware was slow in development of SWTOR. In response EA pumped tons of cash into a revamp of the game with a caveats.

John Riccitiello's job was directly in jeporady due to SWTOR's underperformance, since it was he who brockered the enormous deal to aquire Bioware. (And make Bioware one of the main new divisions of EA). In fact, John Riccitiello almost lost his job due to EA's underpeformace, (in particulair, SWTOR's lack to compete directly with WoW.)

Again my opinion, I believe that Riccitiello sought to reduce both the public profile and the responsobilities of the Doctors within EA. Between the underperformance of SWTOR, the ME3 hou-ha, the DA2 meh, the gutting of BW Austin, and the demotions within EA, the Doctors decided to cash out. (And oh boy did they cash out.)

To your point directly, Bioware got the LA SWTOR license before being bought by EA. They made the descion to use the Alpha-Hero engine before being bought by EA. EA watched an Alpha demo of SWTOR in 2009 and were entirely underwhelmed, (think EA louse) and despite the Warhammer debacle, continued if not increased funding of SWTOR, but with a firm release deadline. (Which meant several of the concepts Bioware was toying with had to be cut from the launched game.)

Now EA, in order to keep managments' heads intact, are keeping SWTOR as low profile as posible. That leaves us with the FReemium version (to EA) red haired stepchild SWTOR has become.

End of wall of text.

 

*Or is it?

I should also point out that during SWTOR's initial vast loss of players, not only was Riccitiello's job on the line, but EA's stock price dropped low enough that it was in danger of being bought out by Nexon. SWTOR had to be swept under the carpet for both management's collective heads, and for the independant future of EA, free of take-overs.

 

** Also of note, Gordon Walton, the man who decided to lease the Alpha-Hero engine, was the fiirst muckity-muck who "resigned" from Bioware in February of 2012.

  gervaise1

Elite Member

Joined: 1/17/07
Posts: 1484

1/29/13 4:15:53 PM#9

Agree with Kartelli that EA certainly had time to "correct" anything they didn't like about the SW framework. When they bought Bioware EA changed the playing field however.

Sure the EA board probably let Bioware get on with it. It is what they paid however: $620M cash + $240M in stock options subject to "various performance guarantees"

Who was in line for a slice of the $260M I don't know - the good doctor and other senior  execs presumably. I suspect, however, that the stock options will have made evevybody involved play very safe; no risks, no gambles. Just a case of turning out a "good" product but not one that will set the world on fire.

Millions in the bank - I assume the good doctor will have collected his share of the $620M (well deserved for past success etc.) -+with guaranteed stock options to come - probably puts out fires as well!

 

  Slampig

Hard Core Member

Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 2407

Whatever you do, do NOT speak ill of Asheron's Call 2...

1/29/13 4:20:32 PM#10
Originally posted by Karteli

 

The long, strange journey of BioWare's doctor, developer, beer enthusiast

Jan 28, 2013

http://www.polygon.com/2013/1/28/3924078/bioware-greg-zeschuk-beer-diaries

 

Some excerpts from the article, most notably some of the quotes:

 

"I just felt like my passion was waning," Zeschuk said of his decision to leave BioWare in September.

"I think one of the reasons that we survived and succeeded within EA was that our company was mature enough and there was enough good people throughout to handle the EA bear hug — something that is well meaning but vigorous," he said. "We needed to be strong to survive that and I think we did and you evolve from that as well."

Just why Zeschuk lost his passion for gaming remains a bit unclear. Was it because of the sale to EA, Star Wars: The Old Republic's relatively small subscriber base, the anger some fans felt over the ending of the Mass Effect trilogy?

"One of the few things I find kind of funny is the responses of the fans, because they sort of respond that they are kind of mad at us for leaving because they think we owe them more games. You know it's sad I wish I could deliver on that, but I don't think I would be as good as I was in that space historically. Like I said, the fire wasn't there."

When Zeschuk said his goodbyes last year, he wrote that there was a strong possibility he wouldn't be returning to the game industry. Does he still feel that gaming isn't something he'd come back to?

"Yeah, it's probably not," he said. "I'm having fun doing [beer brewing], so probably not. We'll see, but I'm not planning on it at this point for sure."

 

I imagine being bought by EA was draining the morale of Bioware employees.  Zeschuk even refers to EA as a bear hug.  Perhaps that helps to explain why a $200-$300 million dollar game failed to deliver the most comprehensive Star Wars experience ever?  The high job turnover rate at EA's Bioware subdivision probably didn't / isn't helping either.

 

In other words, EA just sucked the life and creativity out of everyone working on the project. :-/  .. although Dr. Zeschuk was far more political about it.

I read the same article. You are going to have to show me where he says anything like this.

That Guild Wars 2 login screen knocked up my wife. Must be the second coming!

  Calerxes

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 2/06/09
Posts: 1660

1/29/13 4:28:07 PM#11
Originally posted by Ahnog
The overriding message is that he lost the fire in the belly. He didn't blame it on EA.

 

I really don't think that two intelligent men both with Doctorates are going to sell out to EA without knowing what they are getting intro. They sold to capitalise on the worth of the company and have a lovely retirement fund so I tend to agree here Ahnog they lost their passion and cashed in by selling Bioware and part of that deal was to stay around to complete and launch SWTOR. But of course let the blame lay at EA's door its a an easy target all corporations are EVIL don't you know. 

This doom and gloom thread was brought to you by Chin Up™ the new ultra high caffeine soft drink for gamers who just need that boost of happiness after a long forum session.

  DKLond

Advanced Member

Joined: 5/21/08
Posts: 578

1/30/13 4:40:05 AM#12

They didn't sell out - they were sold out.

That said, their downward spiral started long before that. I personally put it around the time of Jade Empire - which was their first true mass-market dumbed down game. Arguably KotOR came first - but it was of such high quality that I can't include it in a negative way.

The problem is not so much the crap they've been turning out, but their way of handling themselves in public. Their PR is atrocious because they're defending all their incredibly stupid design decisions every step of the way, and they're not honest about it.

Just admit that you're trying to please the masses - and that you have no intention of catering to the core audience that made Bioware such a success.

Then, at least, we'd have honesty.

Leaving the company is understandable - but feigning ignorance about why the games suck and pretending the fans are wrongly feeling entitled because they're disappointed in a once great developer is bullshit.

The guy is lying to himself and the public.

  ignore_me

Apprentice Member

Joined: 7/04/11
Posts: 2034

1/30/13 11:02:25 AM#13
Originally posted by Slampig
Originally posted by Karteli

 

The long, strange journey of BioWare's doctor, developer, beer enthusiast

Jan 28, 2013

http://www.polygon.com/2013/1/28/3924078/bioware-greg-zeschuk-beer-diaries

 

Some excerpts from the article, most notably some of the quotes:

 

"I just felt like my passion was waning," Zeschuk said of his decision to leave BioWare in September.

"I think one of the reasons that we survived and succeeded within EA was that our company was mature enough and there was enough good people throughout to handle the EA bear hug — something that is well meaning but vigorous," he said. "We needed to be strong to survive that and I think we did and you evolve from that as well."

Just why Zeschuk lost his passion for gaming remains a bit unclear. Was it because of the sale to EA, Star Wars: The Old Republic's relatively small subscriber base, the anger some fans felt over the ending of the Mass Effect trilogy?

"One of the few things I find kind of funny is the responses of the fans, because they sort of respond that they are kind of mad at us for leaving because they think we owe them more games. You know it's sad I wish I could deliver on that, but I don't think I would be as good as I was in that space historically. Like I said, the fire wasn't there."

When Zeschuk said his goodbyes last year, he wrote that there was a strong possibility he wouldn't be returning to the game industry. Does he still feel that gaming isn't something he'd come back to?

"Yeah, it's probably not," he said. "I'm having fun doing [beer brewing], so probably not. We'll see, but I'm not planning on it at this point for sure."

 

I imagine being bought by EA was draining the morale of Bioware employees.  Zeschuk even refers to EA as a bear hug.  Perhaps that helps to explain why a $200-$300 million dollar game failed to deliver the most comprehensive Star Wars experience ever?  The high job turnover rate at EA's Bioware subdivision probably didn't / isn't helping either.

 

In other words, EA just sucked the life and creativity out of everyone working on the project. :-/  .. although Dr. Zeschuk was far more political about it.

I read the same article. You are going to have to show me where he says anything like this.

Yeah Karteli, I think you have to cede that Bioware is the major bad guy here concerning terrible design. EA was checked out for too long, and wasn't at the table when LucasArts put in the order for a dumbed down MMO. EA is a terrible company, but in this case that and Bioware's failure could be mutually exclusive to some degree.

For the Doctor, throwing EA into the discussion was a good way to try and shift blame away from his company. He already knows everyone hates EA, and its a giant company so it makes a good straw man. This little tick indicts Bioware even more for me, and demonstrates their inability to be honest about screw ups from the former organizational top.

Survivor of the great MMORPG Famine of 2011

  Karteli

Apprentice Member

Joined: 7/09/12
Posts: 2704

 
OP  1/30/13 6:29:43 PM#14
Originally posted by ignore_me
Originally posted by Slampig
Originally posted by Karteli

 

The long, strange journey of BioWare's doctor, developer, beer enthusiast

Jan 28, 2013

http://www.polygon.com/2013/1/28/3924078/bioware-greg-zeschuk-beer-diaries

 

Some excerpts from the article, most notably some of the quotes:

 

"I just felt like my passion was waning," Zeschuk said of his decision to leave BioWare in September.

"I think one of the reasons that we survived and succeeded within EA was that our company was mature enough and there was enough good people throughout to handle the EA bear hug — something that is well meaning but vigorous," he said. "We needed to be strong to survive that and I think we did and you evolve from that as well."

Just why Zeschuk lost his passion for gaming remains a bit unclear. Was it because of the sale to EA, Star Wars: The Old Republic's relatively small subscriber base, the anger some fans felt over the ending of the Mass Effect trilogy?

"One of the few things I find kind of funny is the responses of the fans, because they sort of respond that they are kind of mad at us for leaving because they think we owe them more games. You know it's sad I wish I could deliver on that, but I don't think I would be as good as I was in that space historically. Like I said, the fire wasn't there."

When Zeschuk said his goodbyes last year, he wrote that there was a strong possibility he wouldn't be returning to the game industry. Does he still feel that gaming isn't something he'd come back to?

"Yeah, it's probably not," he said. "I'm having fun doing [beer brewing], so probably not. We'll see, but I'm not planning on it at this point for sure."

 

I imagine being bought by EA was draining the morale of Bioware employees.  Zeschuk even refers to EA as a bear hug.  Perhaps that helps to explain why a $200-$300 million dollar game failed to deliver the most comprehensive Star Wars experience ever?  The high job turnover rate at EA's Bioware subdivision probably didn't / isn't helping either.

 

In other words, EA just sucked the life and creativity out of everyone working on the project. :-/  .. although Dr. Zeschuk was far more political about it.

I read the same article. You are going to have to show me where he says anything like this.

Yeah Karteli, I think you have to cede that Bioware is the major bad guy here concerning terrible design. EA was checked out for too long, and wasn't at the table when LucasArts put in the order for a dumbed down MMO. EA is a terrible company, but in this case that and Bioware's failure could be mutually exclusive to some degree.

For the Doctor, throwing EA into the discussion was a good way to try and shift blame away from his company. He already knows everyone hates EA, and its a giant company so it makes a good straw man. This little tick indicts Bioware even more for me, and demonstrates their inability to be honest about screw ups from the former organizational top.

Aye.

Shifting blame is a big commedty.  The SWTOR official forums (thanks to shills) continually keep blaming the failure on BioWare, and not EA.

Something which I think EA is paying dearly for through advertising on their official forums.  If you look at their forums it's always BioWare this, BioWare that ... never EA ..

EA either did a great job brainwashing everyone, or many shills earned their pay.

 

I'd wager real money that the doctors knew EA was poison when they sold BioWare.  They won.  EA didn't win.  Gamers didn't win either.

 

I wouldn't feel bad if SWTOR shut down tomorrow.  Today, tomorrow, whatever .. it's headed there.  There is no quality person in charge.  Just Hickman, and that's where anything interesting stops.

Want a nice understanding of life? Try Spirit Science: "The Human History"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8NNHmV3QPw&feature=plcp
Recognize the voice? Yep sounds like Penny Arcade's Extra Credits.

  ignore_me

Apprentice Member

Joined: 7/04/11
Posts: 2034

2/03/13 5:31:23 AM#15

@Karteli

I would feel bad for those who for some reason really enjoy this game. I can't be hypocritical (much as I hate SWTOR) as I feel that SWG getting the axe was a tragedy for those who loved the game. Once the new movie comes out maybe there will be some push for a new SW game. Maybe something more people can enjoy together.

Survivor of the great MMORPG Famine of 2011

  defector1968

Novice Member

Joined: 6/16/10
Posts: 400

Real Animal lovers are ONLY the vegetarians

2/03/13 6:46:04 AM#16

EA or Bioware? who to blame?

easy

when a company do a bad decision / fail in something, they always blame their employees for that disaster

the easiest excuse to continue

  mmoguy43

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 3/31/09
Posts: 2354

2/03/13 2:52:29 PM#17
With how the gaming industry is today I'm actually surprised anyone in a large studio has a genuine passion to make games. Your consumers and investors expect more for less. Neither can realisticly be met or improved. It's like always working with a noose around your neck. Indies are where the gaming passion can still exist.

Let's build the ultimate MMO 1 feature at a time
http://www.mmorpg.com/discussion2.cfm/thread/398555/page/1

"blocked nariusseldon since forever"

  Dauzqul

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 2/10/12
Posts: 1316

2/03/13 2:59:30 PM#18

They are both to blame.

 

EA: Endless financial resources, yet still pump out the same over-used garbage, e.g., instanced battlegrounds, theme park progression, linear zones, linear space combat, etc....

 

BioWare is maker of single-player games. When they told us that the "5th missing pillar is story", that should've been a red flag for everyone.

 

 

It pretty much sealed the fate of any future potential Star Wars MMO. They won't let their ip be tainted twice (NGE / SWTOR).

  ignore_me

Apprentice Member

Joined: 7/04/11
Posts: 2034

2/03/13 10:00:17 PM#19
Originally posted by mmoDAD

 

 

It pretty much sealed the fate of any future potential Star Wars MMO. They won't let their ip be tainted twice (NGE / SWTOR).

Well, the problem with that dismissal is that you have an IP that could probably support 3 or 4 more disasters. If they released another MMO (that was fully operational, and good) next year it would make money.

Survivor of the great MMORPG Famine of 2011

  User Deleted
2/04/13 5:53:48 AM#20
Originally posted by mmoguy43
With how the gaming industry is today I'm actually surprised anyone in a large studio has a genuine passion to make games. Your consumers and investors expect more for less. Neither can realisticly be met or improved. It's like always working with a noose around your neck. Indies are where the gaming passion can still exist.

Its not only that, but they demand cookie cutter games and anything that doesnt follow cookie cutter is a no-no.

Remember one of doctors saying "WoW set the standard and if you dont do it like WoW...." but i actually think that was EA speaking and that by that time doctors didnt really give s..t  about it any more and just worked as good corporate soldiers until their contract is finished.

Pretty much the game we got wasnt the game BW wanted to make back when they started in 2005, but game EA/LA wanted to make and thought of as "WoW killer" (WoW clone with strongest IP there is).

The customer response, unfortunately, was...meh. Not that many didnt see that coming.

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