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EA buys BioWare and Pandemic

EA buys BioWare and Pandemic

Mass Effect is probably one of the reasons why the price for BioWare and Pandemic was so very high.

In a semi-shocking announcement, Electronic Arts has just revealed that it has acquired both BioWare and Pandemic Studios by buying the parent company, VG Holding Corp.

EA is reported to have paid around $620 million to the stockholders, as well as giving away $155 million in equity to key people at VG Holding and is lending the company up to $35 million on top of all that.

That is a lot of moolah and the price has no doubt been driven up by the highly anticipated Mass Effect which is under development at BioWare.

"These are two of the most respected studios in the industry and I'm glad to be working with them again. They'll make a strong contribution to our strategic growth initiatives on quality, online gaming and developing new intellectual properties," said John Riccitiello, EA's Chief Executive Officer. "We also expect this will drive long-term value for our shareholders.

"We are truly excited by John Riccitiello's new vision for EA," said Ray Muzyka, Co-founder and CEO of BioWare Corp. "This vision is consistent with BioWare's focus on crafting the highest quality story-driven games in the world. It will enable us to further the careers of the passionate, creative and hard working teams at BioWare Edmonton and BioWare Austin."

What this means for the future of both companies is still a little uncertain though and one of the major worries is that BioWare will be put to work on more regular, less polished console titles. Hopefully though, that won't be the case and we'll see a few more quality PC RPGs come out of the company. I for one am itching for another Planescape game.

So, how do you think the acquisition will affect the companies involved? Is this a good thing, giving BioWare and Pandemic more resources, or is it a bad thing as it links them to a major publisher? Speculation and opinions in the forums please.

44 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
g3n3tiX 12th October 2007, 10:21 Quote
Slowly EAting up others.
On the bright side, if it can help them continue to live, it's a good thing.
But I hope their games won't be influenced too much by EA's bosses (mutliformat, kiddies' content...)
cjmUK 12th October 2007, 10:28 Quote
EA are akin to The Borg. Soon every independent developer will be creating annual, franchised, console ports.

I used to think EA were great (10yrs ago), but they have become the McDonalds of gaming publishing... only selling sickly plastic products to the dribbling masses.

[Yes I really am a snob.]

I'd like to see at least a couple of publishers of a comparable size to offer some stern competition and make EA up their game.
p3n 12th October 2007, 10:47 Quote
Surely EA are getting close to a monopoly on the games 'chart' Oo

I hope they dont stick their nose in and leave these games tobe individual
MiNiMaL_FuSS 12th October 2007, 10:57 Quote
EA far too often ruin games by pushing the developers to rush them just to get them out there as soon as possible, their patching and support is pretty awful too.

A black day for gaming when yet another company fall to the EA machine.
cjoyce1980 12th October 2007, 11:00 Quote
oh dear......... most stop went they have crossed that line, but i'm sure all EA can see are dots!
samkiller42 12th October 2007, 12:00 Quote
SO we can expect to see millions more games that all need patches. Great, what a wonderful outlook.

Sam
mmorgue 12th October 2007, 12:45 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by samkiller42
SO we can expect to see millions more games that all need patches. Great, what a wonderful outlook.

Sam

Yeh, but what software nowadays doesn't need patches? Your OS does, your anti virus software does, browsers always need patches, various other utility and application software needs them too.

Even consoles now have to have patches which in some cases makes it even worse! 5 years ago that was unheard of for a console; to have a game patch.

So, I wouldn't say it's necessarily bad. I agree that EA have had their share of "extrenuous" patching, from experience BF2. But I still wouldnt say it's bad. You can never code a bit of software that will run 100% of the time on 100% of the machines out there, it's impossible due to the almost limitless combinations of hardware/software people have.
Gunsmith 12th October 2007, 12:57 Quote
"so what does this mean for the future of the companies?"

they're ****ed
Kufwit 12th October 2007, 13:03 Quote
Nope I can only think that EA buying up the market is a bad thing. They rush games out yes but they leave the lesser programmers to fix the bugs. The latest patch for 2142 has been in beta for months. They have made their money and don't care.

Only by leaving the smaller developers alone can we expect any kind of game advances and diversity. I have experienced EA's tactics too much over the last couple of years (600 hours of BF2/2142) to think anything but bad things about them.

The money machine only constricts any kind of art. I know we need the cash but the people at the top have no clue or simply just care about profits.

just my 2p :)
Insilgo 12th October 2007, 13:47 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by samkiller42
SO we can expect to see millions more games that all need patches. Great, what a wonderful outlook.

Sam

I've had a look at some other sites trying to find out some more info and to quote the BBC

"EA says it plans to release four or five games a year from the new studios in each of the 2009/10 and 2010/11 financial years."

It looks on the surface as though the EA convension will continue with Bioware and Pandemic both being "asked" to release a greater number of titles in a much smaller time scale.

While I can appreciate that EA want to see a return on their investment I can't help but feel that this will see a marked degradation in the quality of their games.

I would prefer to wait a little longer for a more polished and enjoyable game rather than a hastily released product. This is especially true for companies such as Bioware which release RPG's where the content and story are integral to the game.
naokaji 12th October 2007, 13:52 Quote
the issues with the battlefield (and other series) are not only the need to patch and patches not being out for long...

i also find the micro games with in return plenty of addons to make you pay more in total approach completly stupid..

and, why do they need to spit out one version of a game after the other? every year (or even less) they release a "new" one of each name... battlefield, medal of honor, need for speed and so on... whats up with that? wheres the creativity?
MilkMan5 12th October 2007, 13:56 Quote
IT consolidation will continue to happen – for the good or for the bad, it will happen.

I’m sure Bioware and Pandemic have their reasons (financial gain ).
Unless of course Bioware and Pandemic are in financial sh!t.

I just hope that EA will let all these game developers run independently and don’t necessarily bring everything under one roof.
But we know better.

I remember when EA was just EA Sports – it’s in the game.
Vash-HT 12th October 2007, 15:31 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by mmorgue
Yeh, but what software nowadays doesn't need patches? Your OS does, your anti virus software does, browsers always need patches, various other utility and application software needs them too.

Even consoles now have to have patches which in some cases makes it even worse! 5 years ago that was unheard of for a console; to have a game patch.

So, I wouldn't say it's necessarily bad. I agree that EA have had their share of "extrenuous" patching, from experience BF2. But I still wouldnt say it's bad. You can never code a bit of software that will run 100% of the time on 100% of the machines out there, it's impossible due to the almost limitless combinations of hardware/software people have.

I was going to right a long response, but Decided to summarize it. You are right, pretty much all software requires updates at one time or another, but the reason people slam EA for it is because they force their games out on a strict schedule even if the game should still be in beta status. I bought BF2 and had to go through all the crap and patching for that, and after the BF2142 beta ended abruptly with tons of bugs still in it I decided not to buy the full game. There are still a lot of companies willing to delay their software to get most of the bugs worked out, and EA sure as hell isn't one of them.
Aankhen 12th October 2007, 16:01 Quote
As seen on IRC:
Quote:
<Aankhen``> Oh no.
<Aankhen``> EA bought Pandemic and Bioware.
<Aankhen``> Oh NO.
True story.
Techno-Dann 12th October 2007, 17:19 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kufwit
Nope I can only think that EA buying up the market is a bad thing. They rush games out yes but they leave the lesser programmers to fix the bugs. The latest patch for 2142 has been in beta for months. They have made their money and don't care.

Don't forget the in-game advertising!
culley 12th October 2007, 17:48 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by MilkMan5
I’m sure Bioware and Pandemic have their reasons (financial gain ).
Unless of course Bioware and Pandemic are in financial sh!t.

Bioware and Pandemic were owned by another company i think or more along the lines of investors so it was not there decision, if i read correctly.
Dvs98SK 12th October 2007, 18:19 Quote
I'm slowly getting tired of EA. Most of there games suck and now a couple of my favorite companies has been eaten by them.
devdevil85 12th October 2007, 19:12 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dvs98SK
I'm slowly getting tired of EA. Most of there games suck and now a couple of my favorite companies has been eaten by them.
qft. I f***ing hate EA. Their games are too expected and they don't bring anything to the table, and the only thing they have going for them are exclusive rights to player names/jerserys (woohoo!). Playing the NBA demos on PS3 the game with the worst gameplay/graphics was NBA Live '08 (EA Sports). Everything else was innovative, graphically-advanced and played great.....
Bladestorm 12th October 2007, 22:27 Quote
A sad day, I can't think of many other events that would so instantly dash a developers reputation with the gaming public and being bought up by EA :( To say nothing of the expected drop in quality over the next couple of years.
Veles 12th October 2007, 23:06 Quote
I died inside when I read the headline, if EA ****s with Bioware I won't be happy. :'(
leexgx 12th October 2007, 23:24 Quote
EA games suck latey the 2142 Mod (as thats basicly what it is running off BF2 1.4v code) and whay wcwrued with there own marcket on BF2 when thay Made the 1.3 patch for iit it when from 60,000 players down to less then 10,000 players all becore thay thought an Bug in the server code that made the servers reset every 1hr it taken them 4-5 months to bring an half fix for that

thay cost alot of server owners money as well as alot had reserved slots that plays payed for and alot of clans just stoped playing broke up or moved on

thats why as not happy when DICE was going to make BF2 in the first place thay allways had slopy codeing my clan still be playing it now if it was not for bugs
zerolock 12th October 2007, 23:48 Quote
this is not good :/ EA sucks ass, especially their "innovative" sport games..
TeAaKa 13th October 2007, 13:37 Quote
Taking a quote from the front page 'John Riccitiello, EA's Chief Executive Officer. "We also expect this will drive long-term value for our shareholders."

For me that says enough.
DXR_13KE 13th October 2007, 22:41 Quote
please God not another westwood......
Brett89 14th October 2007, 07:12 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by DXR_13KE
please God not another westwood......

I hate EA for that sole reason, they ruined Renegade 2, I loved that game, multiplayer was so awesome, one of the few I actually played, ruined the Command and Conquer series, I agree with the patches from EA, BF2 one month in, huge patch, then another, and another. It sickens me. *insert puking smiley here*
evanbraakensiek 14th October 2007, 14:00 Quote
Yawn at the moronic replies so far. If you haven't got anything nice to say just don't say it. Why does going on about how much they dislike EA and their business models, help anything. If you're not happy just don't buy their games, it's not rocket science. Honestly feel most of you sheep were just writing a comment for the sake of it.
Aankhen 14th October 2007, 22:13 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by evanbraakensiek
Yawn at the moronic replies so far. If you haven't got anything nice to say just don't say it. Why does going on about how much they dislike EA and their business models, help anything. If you're not happy just don't buy their games, it's not rocket science. Honestly feel most of you sheep were just writing a comment for the sake of it.
I think you missed the point of the forums: to express your opinion. If that bothers you, you may be in the wrong place. ;)

While we're at it, you also missed the point of the posts. The dislike for EA is due to their consistency in lowering the quality of games created by any studio they own; at least, that's the reason why I dislike them.
proxess 14th October 2007, 23:17 Quote
I can see it now...
Mass Effect: Most Wanted
Mass Effect: Underground (1 and 2)
Mass Effect 2007
Mass Effect 2008
Mass Effect 2009 Limited Edition
cjmUK 15th October 2007, 00:12 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aankhen
I think you missed the point of the forums: to express your opinion. If that bothers you, you may be in the wrong place. ;)

While we're at it, you also missed the point of the posts. The dislike for EA is due to their consistency in lowering the quality of games created by any studio they own; at least, that's the reason why I dislike them.

Seconded.
evanbraakensiek 15th October 2007, 01:21 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aankhen
Quote:
Originally Posted by evanbraakensiek
Yawn at the moronic replies so far. If you haven't got anything nice to say just don't say it. Why does going on about how much they dislike EA and their business models, help anything. If you're not happy just don't buy their games, it's not rocket science. Honestly feel most of you sheep were just writing a comment for the sake of it.
I think you missed the point of the forums: to express your opinion. If that bothers you, you may be in the wrong place. ;)

While we're at it, you also missed the point of the posts. The dislike for EA is due to their consistency in lowering the quality of games created by any studio they own; at least, that's the reason why I dislike them.

Just because you've the right to speak doesn't mean you should.
cjmUK 15th October 2007, 01:49 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by evanbraakensiek
Just because you've the right to speak doesn't mean you should.

That's a double-edged sword. Just because you have an opinion of this discussion and are free to air it, it doesn't mean that you should.

If you don't like the discussion of EAs poor performance don't read the posts. Or better still, leave Bit-Tech entirely.

Hoisted by your own petard?
Tyinsar 15th October 2007, 16:11 Quote
The funny thing with "buying" a company is that the actual talent behind the company name can pack up and move fairly quickly - and eventually will if the buyer mishandles the new company.
MilkMan5 15th October 2007, 16:34 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by evanbraakensiek
Yawn at the moronic replies so far. If you haven't got anything nice to say just don't say it. Why does going on about how much they dislike EA and their business models, help anything. If you're not happy just don't buy their games, it's not rocket science. Honestly feel most of you sheep were just writing a comment for the sake of it.

Strange – yet you seemed to have voiced your view/opinion on the Facebook chat, right here at Bit-tech.net

BTW, I am not a sheep, but rather a Water Ox
evanbraakensiek 16th October 2007, 00:08 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by cjmUK
Quote:
Originally Posted by evanbraakensiek
Just because you've the right to speak doesn't mean you should.

That's a double-edged sword. Just because you have an opinion of this discussion and are free to air it, it doesn't mean that you should.

If you don't like the discussion of EAs poor performance don't read the posts. Or better still, leave Bit-Tech entirely.

Hoisted by your own petard?

The news was about EA buying BioWare and Pandemic and although it's relevant to comment about how EA may affect the company, you can clearly see people are jumping on the bandwagon. I mean, someone mentioned that they actually updated their games in a negative context...I mean, come on.

It's about justifying your opinion and clearly you'll all be orgasming at the next Crysis news post, which makes your opinions both contradicting and redundant . But hey, the actual news post had the authors opinion as well, so who cares, it's easy to dismiss the only person sticking up for EA as the village idiot, so I'll let you continue your crusade of negativity, your prerogative.
Cinnander 16th October 2007, 11:59 Quote
Hopefully eventually something will cause EA to meet their come-uppance. (Something like the Linux of the game world. Something to gradually get in to the cracks in the wall)

I too dislike EA, for me however my reasons are for treating the players of Earth and Beyond like crap as well as consistently buying out these studios (Westwood, Digital Illusions (aka DICE), and many others) and in their drive to a bigger bottom line they're loosing sight of the fact that people are being alienated. Personally I don't buy EA games anymore, woo, go me.
I played BF1942 as well as EnB, and despite the long delays between patches and lack of testing in some cases, I have to say BF1942 wasn't so terribly bad compared to other games (BF2[142], by the sound of it). I think DICE must have been only just taken over or something, it was still quite playable and while the original was arcadey as hell, once they (DICE, I guess) realised that people were going to mod it - official mod tools or no - they released some useful tools which allowed awesome mods like Forgotten Hope to be developed. This ultimately led to DICE (I believe) offering the developers of Desert Combat a wad of cash for their 'IP'.
As I said though, the kicker for me was Earth and Beyond. They treated that game like a giant beta test for a graphics engine that might come in useful (one we had to pay to be on), tech/game support was terrible, patches were infrequent and eventually when it'd served its purpose and they weren't making as much money off it as they could if they moved the developers to, say, Whatever-Sport League Balls 2009 Limited/Silver/Gold/Collectors Edition, they just pulled the plug. Shrug off the loyal gamers in favor of joe-public who want to play at football managers (an area of the industry where there isn't exactly a dearth of games), and don't know or care who they buy from. The only reason they didn't have many many more players: no advertising. I only found out about the game because of the trailer video on BF1942 disc 2; their advertising effort was comprised of one button on the CD-Splash of a couple of games.

Edit:
Also they do the 'games are art' cause no favors at all.
If games want to be taken seriously a something which is artistic and hence requires talent and skill to build, people will need to realise that EA who buy the rights to whatever sport event, slap sponsorship all over it, and then produce 5 tacky, samey, unoriginal games (Artistically, how does FIFA 2005 differ from 2006, 2007, 2008, ... etc., other than new player names and a few new commentator sounds?) are going about things all wrong - we're going to end up arguing for something as hard to prove as 'tins of beans are art'. How can they be 'art' if companies like EA bang out thousands of low quality mass-market games? Tins of beans. Nothing against the guys behind the games, they're obviously talented enough to get jobs for these unfortunate studios. It's the solely bottom-line oriented business model I despise.
We will (or we do) only see one or two big, anticipated, proper games such as Half Life 2 and other such big titles among this plethora of "cheapy-plastic" crap which, while making them stand out all the more, hardly makes it easy to argue for the entire industry to be considered one producing 'art'.
(Not saying I support the 'games are art' entirely, but it has some merits)
End of Rant
Aankhen 16th October 2007, 17:46 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by evanbraakensiek
It's about justifying your opinion and clearly you'll all be orgasming at the next Crysis news post, which makes your opinions both contradicting and redundant . But hey, the actual news post had the authors opinion as well, so who cares, it's easy to dismiss the only person sticking up for EA as the village idiot, so I'll let you continue your crusade of negativity, your prerogative.
My, it must be nice up on that high horse. :)

It's one thing to stick up for EA; that's your prerogative. It's another entirely to dismiss the opinions of everyone in this thread as meaningless simply because they agree with one another, and disagree with you. Acting superior doesn't work unless you carry it off perfectly. ;)

As for your comment about Crysis, yes, I will be drooling over every bit of related information, since I won't be playing it anyway for a while. :) I'll have plenty of time beforehand to find out whether it's as buggy as the typical EA product.
MilkMan5 17th October 2007, 10:55 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by evanbraakensiek

It's about justifying your opinion and clearly you'll all be orgasming at the next Crysis news post, which makes your opinions both contradicting and redundant.

Our views are based on previous experience from EA.

Crysis is not yet released.
Maybe EA will surprise us all and have a good working game, but until then, our views are not contradicting, but rather based on real facts.

Veles 17th October 2007, 13:30 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tyinsar
The funny thing with "buying" a company is that the actual talent behind the company name can pack up and move fairly quickly - and eventually will if the buyer mishandles the new company.

Actually, they usually put the creative talent behind the company in a contract which means they can't leave for several years.
Tyinsar 17th October 2007, 15:22 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Veles
Actually, they usually put the creative talent behind the company in a contract which means they can't leave for several years.
That's the logical thing to do but I wonder how many would stay one second past that. I really don't care about who made what game so I don't follow any studio or designer's moves. What's the history as far as talent staying with a company once it is bought out? - It seems to me that I've seen a lot of stories that include a line like: "... the talent behind ____ who left to form ____ after their previous company got bought out..."
DXR_13KE 17th October 2007, 19:53 Quote
http://www.sega.com/gamesite/universeatwar/fullsite/

from the guys that exited westwood after it was "Borged" by EA (formed petroglyph) and backed up by SEGA :D
8igdave 21st October 2007, 23:47 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by DXR_13KE
http://www.sega.com/gamesite/universeatwar/fullsite/

from the guys that exited westwood after it was "Borged" by EA (formed petroglyph) and backed up by SEGA :D

That seems very much like c&c 3. Which i thought was a total fail. I couldn't even get online when i tried and then just stoped playing.


What other good studioes are there? I dont tend to follow studioes as such but i know about cryteck, dice, westwood, bioshock, pandemic . Any which arn't owned by EA? Does tomclancy count as a studio?
completemadness 22nd October 2007, 01:50 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by 8igdave
What other good studioes are there? I dont tend to follow studioes as such but i know about cryteck, dice, westwood, bioshock, pandemic . Any which arn't owned by EA? Does tomclancy count as a studio?
Crytek doesn't seem to be related to EA
Westwood was bought by EA a long time ago (damn them!)
Dice is owned by EA
Pandemic Studios, currently not owned by EA, but apparently their planning on buying them
TomClancy games are made by ..... Ubisoft - EA own 25% of ubisoft
Bioshock is unrelated to EA

Edit:
Although crytek dont appear to be owned by EA, EA publish crysis
CardJoe 22nd October 2007, 07:45 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by completemadness
Crytek doesn't seem to be related to EA
Westwood was bought by EA a long time ago (damn them!)
Dice is owned by EA
Pandemic Studios, currently not owned by EA, but apparently their planning on buying them
TomClancy games are made by ..... Ubisoft - EA own 25% of ubisoft
Bioshock is unrelated to EA

Edit:
Although crytek dont appear to be owned by EA, EA publish crysis

There are literally loads of amazing developers who aren't owned by EA.

Junction Point Studios (Owned by Disney now, but left alone.) - Warren Spector (lead designer for Deus Ex, Thief and System Shock) heads this studio
Tell Tale Games - Steve Purcell and Dave Grossman, making great adventure games
Double Fine Software - Tim Schafers developer, made Psychonauts and are making Brutal Legend
2K Boston - ok, owned by 2K, but headed by Ken Levine of System Shock and BioShock
Monolith - Condemend, No One Lives Forever
Valve - Half-life, etc
Bethesda - Oblivion, Fallout 3
Introversion - Defcon, uplink, Darwinia
Travellers Tales - lego star wars
Lucasarts - still making some good non-star wars games

And those are just the good western developers off the top of my head. I could have listed all the Ubisoft Studios, who made Assassins Creed and Prince of Persia, etc.

There's also all the eastern developers - Nintendo, Capcom, Konami, Sega, Square Enix. Personally, I tend not to choose games by publisher or genre, but by developer or studio. If I know Warren Spector is behind something then it's definitely worth a look.

That EA has bought Bioware isn't that shocking, it's just that Bioware is a notable company in a specific market. This type of thing is natural though to spread the talent around, otherwise Bioware create a monopoly on decent RPGs, playing off against Bethesda once every few years. By moving Bioware, the market is stirred and the developers shift, mingle and spread.
completemadness 22nd October 2007, 15:12 Quote
I wasnt saying everyone was owned by EA ;)

He just gave a list of developers and asked if any were related to EA, and i answered

My favorite studio used to be west wood, but since they were bought by EA they have died a painful death
Epic games are pretty OK, i guess valve is my current favorite developer, although, lower prices would increase that greatly
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