MS nearly destroyed FASA and Bungie

MS nearly destroyed FASA and Bungie

Microsoft destroyed our studio culture, says FASA Interactive founder, who says the same nearly happened to Bungie.

Jordan Weisman, the founder of MechWarrior-creator FASA Interactive, has spoken out about how Microsoft destroyed the studio when it bought them up - and how the same nearly happened to Bungie.

"When Microsoft bought FASA Interactive and incorporated it into Microsoft... the two reasons they bought us was, one, they wanted the catalogue of intellectual properties and, two, they felt that we had developed a really good development culture. And the reality is that, pretty much from the day we moved to Redmond, that development culture was destroyed," Weisman said in an interview with

"I don't think the studio ever really had a chance...It was destroyed right in the beginning.," said Weisman, who eventually saw FASA closed down by Microsoft in 2007 as part of a series of closures. By that time Weisman had already left Microsoft to form his own new venture, WizKids.

Weisman comments that he was also bought in to help with Microsoft's acquisition of Halo developer Bungie Studios - and that the same thing nearly happened there too.

"They wanted me to sit down with the owners of Bungie and tell them how well the transition went," he explained. "And it was like - 'what planet are you guys on?' This transition did not go well. And actually I became the lead vocal pain in the ass to get things done very different for Bungie."

"I tried to convince them to leave Bungie in Chicago, but not winning that I did succeed in getting them to put them in a walled off room, which didn't follow any of the other Microsoft stuff. We were much better able to defend Bungie's culture than we were FASA's culture."

Weisman says he is currently involved with the new MechWarrior game, but adds that getting a publishing deal for the title may be difficult.

"We're operating under some pretty tight restrictions of the licence that make publishing the games kind of challenging."

Have you ever seen your company ruined by a ham-handed buy-out, or are you solely interested in how this affects the next MechWarrior? Let us know your thoughts in the forums.


Discuss in the forums Reply
DragunovHUN 26th August 2009, 13:29 Quote
Westwood, and more recently Stormregion come to my mind. But there are many examples in this industry, sadly.
Tyrmot 26th August 2009, 13:59 Quote
Makes you wish FASA had never been bought by MS in the first place really. Who knows what games they might have brought out otherwise?
Omnituens 26th August 2009, 14:00 Quote
Bullfrog too.
Gunsmith 26th August 2009, 14:02 Quote
nearly? id say they did a pretty good job of destroying them through corperate greed,
Veles 26th August 2009, 14:02 Quote
Pretty much any developer acquired by a big publisher loses what it once had. Although I do still like what Rare are doing.
talladega 26th August 2009, 14:04 Quote
So MS bought the company and then closed it down so no other systems could have games from those IPs?
UrbanMarine 26th August 2009, 14:21 Quote
Westwood, Black Isle Studios, DICE, 3DRealms, FASA (too many to list) are all companies that went to **** when bought up or failed in contracts.

I loved the first 3 Mechwarrior games. Then MS came and it wrecked a good series. They need to get back on track with the novels and restart the series.

@Talladega: EA's well known for buying up IPs and not producing games. They're locking out the market and letting classics die.
DragunovHUN 26th August 2009, 14:50 Quote
Originally Posted by Omnituens
Bullfrog too.

Oh yeah, Bullfrog : (
Lizard 26th August 2009, 15:11 Quote
Origin went completely downhill when it got bought too, from being one of the biggest, most successful developers to a practically unheard of outfit putting out crappy Ultima Online addons.
TGImages 26th August 2009, 15:16 Quote
"Have you ever seen your company ruined by a ham-handed buy-out,"

No, we are the ham-handed buy out company... :)

Actually it isn't quite that simple. We're merging many of our sister companies into us, but this is all at the direction of our parent company (which one way or another owns all of us) so in this case we're just the middleman. As we incorporate them into us, they will be required to follow the corporate standards which many don't like. All along they were required to do so but most got away with ignoring that directive for a number of years.

So, for the rest of the year we get to make life miserable for a bunch of other people all because their upper management wasn't willing to make the necessary changes years ago when they should have. On the other hand, if we weren't going in and taking them over, with the economic hit they took, I think they would be shutting their doors instead.

I'm certainly not defending MS here and I think that with any merger or acquisition, you have to openly evaluate the differing processes and adopt the one that makes the most sense even if means you change instead of them changing.
Skiddywinks 26th August 2009, 15:29 Quote
Some specifics would be nice.
Skiddywinks 26th August 2009, 15:31 Quote
Not you, TGI. I mean Weisman.
DLoney 26th August 2009, 22:50 Quote
what MechWarrior game is that image from?
AWowzer 26th August 2009, 23:23 Quote
biggest ever tragedy was the destuction of Origin by EA. their technology was always years ahead of everyone else. they always pushed hardware to its limits, achieving what people never thought would be possible.

will never forget in 1994, origin coming out with wing commander 3, the first game that felt like you were in an interactive film where your actions determined what happened. the graphics engine, the game and film production value. would love to see what they would have produced on current gen hardware.

its weird how sony's and nintendo's first party studios are keeping their consoles from being a failure whereas the 360's success has been driven mainly by 3rd party. if microsoft could back that up with more successful 1st party studios without ruining them they would be streets ahead
somidiot 27th August 2009, 06:17 Quote
Way to go microshaft with your "we've got lots of money we can do whatever the (insert choice explative) we want to"
Little guy? what little guy? :-p
PQuiff 27th August 2009, 11:20 Quote
Yeah i remember Origin and Wing Commander needed 6 or 8 megs of ram....and i remember my PC only had 4...was truly gutted.

Im a bit perplexed at large studio buyouts. Surely the reason for buying a dev studio is because there profitable or the games they make show promise. They they go in and break a thing that is working by making the studios do things there way. Why not leave them alone, and once in a while send someone along to make sure they are not going compleatly batshit crazy.
Trefarm 27th August 2009, 11:39 Quote
Originally Posted by PQuiff

Im a bit perplexed at large studio buyouts. Surely the reason for buying a dev studio is because there profitable or the games they make show promise. They they go in and break a thing that is working by making the studios do things there way. Why not leave them alone, and once in a while send someone along to make sure they are not going compleatly batshit crazy.

... one word Management... There is always a guy responsible for the 'Streamline Integration' of the new dev's in the company, (who can't do what they do) but has to justify his existance/fat paycheck to his boss.
Because he's Management it's all about the promotion for him, so he does what he knows best... buzzwords, mission statements, cost analysis and all that....
Guess how many Dev's give two hoots about Mission Statements?
Star*Dagger 27th August 2009, 12:05 Quote
The list is long, which is why i get so peeved when people whine about the fine dev companies like Blizzard, Valve and iD that are still around and doing quite well
sear 27th August 2009, 15:47 Quote
Remember, kids. Whenever you think someone important cares about you, your company or your intellectual property, you're wrong.
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