Are fans to be blamed for BioWare’s Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk resignations? We think not

Two weeks ago, we wondered whether EA was to be blamed for the resignation of BioWare’s founders, Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk. Interestingly enough, today NowGamer has unveiled an interview in which Trent Oster suggested that the negative fan reaction to Mass Effect 3 and Star Wars: The Old Republic were things that pushed Ray and Greg into leaving the gaming industry. However, should we really blame the fans or was that an excuse for both Ray and Greg?
As Trent said, Zeschuk felt exhausted during their last meeting and was also disappointed that fans could not love his little child, Mass Effect 3. Trent suggested him to leave the company behind and, ironically, this could be something that really made Zeschuk press the ‘ejection button’.
Now we don’t say that Trent wanted Zeschuk to leave the company, but was this a good advice? Mass Effect 3 has major issues and plot-holes. It’s not like it’s the best game in the universe. There is a reason players ‘hate’ it. Trent could easily point out those issues and suggest Zeschuk to fix them. Now that would be a great advice – “Don’t give up. Stand up and fight. Fix those issues that have been reported. Stop milking the franchise and do things right”.
Trent then continued:
“You have to love games and you put your heart into them to create them. To have the fans creating petitions against the work is pretty hard to take, especially when you’ve spent the last few years crunching overtime to try and ship a game. It can be hard to shut off the overwhelming negativity the internet spews forth, especially when it has your name or the name of your company in it.”
Now we have to disagree with Trent on this matter. You see guys, Mass Effect 3 sold well. So it’s not like Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk did not make any money. There are a lot of other games with huge potential that have not sold half of what ME3 achieved. What those developers can say if Ray and Greg lost their interest so easily? And did they really put their heart into ME3? If so, why there are still hints for the Indocrination Theory at the Extended Cut? How on Earth Shepard survived at the ‘Destroy’ ending? Why were there indications of the Catalyst child being a Reaper? Why didn’t BioWare explain everything and let a lot of questions unaswered in order to spark speculations?
So no, we don’t believe that Ray and Greg put their hearts on it. Unless of course they did and EA did not allow them to create the game they wanted to. But that has nothing to do with the fans, right? Fans will certainly appreciate a great game, even if it’s not a triple-A title. Just look at the ArmA series.
Fans will support developers when they are staying true to their words. Anyone remember those Dragon Age 2 statements about fans asking the game to be more action packed? Well, let’s say that they did. Why was the game bashed for being streamlined and a dumb down version of Dragon Age: Origins then? I mean, it does not make sense, right? It’s like Codemasters releasing Grid 2, getting bashed for not including a cockpit view, and then the company getting upset because their decision was based on a data system that showed them that they didn’t want one. Or imagine what would had happened if ArmA 2 was dumbed down and not as realistic as its previous part, with the developers claiming that their fans wanted a more streamlined experience.
As for Star Wars: The Old Republic, well… that was a bad game. It’s no wonder that it went F2P so quickly. Did BioWare put a lot of work and effort? Most probably? Did all its playtesters suggested that this was the best MMORPG they’ve ever played? Doubt it. Unless of course those playtesters did not have any previous experience with other MMO titles.
All in all, there is a reason why fans bashed Dragon Age 2, Mass Effect 3 and SW: TOR. You can’t simply charge for a product and expect everyone to love it, when that product is flawed and has major issues. BioWare could redeem itself with the Extended Cut of ME3, however it did not. So how can you expect fans to suck it up and change their minds when you’re not addressing those issues that were pointed out? Are fans to be blamed for not answering your game’s questions or your writers? Are fans to be blamed for not putting a proper end to Shepard’s story or your publisher? Are fans to be blamed for milking the franchise with DLCs? Well, we think not.