Alleged Insider Airs EA's Dirty Laundry

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Alleged Insider Airs EA's Dirty Laundry

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Someone claiming to be a deeply disgruntled, soon-to-be-former artist at Electronic Arts has detonated on the internet, unleashing some very nasty allegations about the failure of Warhammer Online, the slow-motion breakdown of Mythic and how BioWare has blown $300 million on Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Remember back in 2004, when EA Spouse revealed some of the less-than-savory labor practices at EA, which ultimately culminated in a successful, multi-million-dollar class action lawsuit against the company? Don't expect quite the same happy, productive outcome from the efforts of "EA Louse," who claims to be an artist at BioWare Mythic who recently learned that he's being laid off in November. He doesn't seem to be interested in effecting meaningful change at the company; he just wants to throw some hand grenades on the way out the door.

Much of the Louse's anger is directed at the stumbling MMO Warhammer Online, the failure for which he blames on everything from being forced out the door before it was done to a butchered marketing campaign and bungling upper management. He also alleges that Mythic Entertainment co-founder Rob Denton, who he claims fostered a culture of fear at the studio but "was never there during the development of Warhammer," had a hand in the firing of fellow Mythic co-founder Mark Jacobs, emphasizing the point that Jacobs was, in fact, forced out.

"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," the anonymous artist wrote. "I bet Rob is enjoying that sweet new Maserati he bought after leaving the knife in his partner of 15 years."

There are plenty of other accusations of incompetence and cronyism but my favorite spitball is reserved for the famed RPG studio that was once seen as being above such things. "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?" he wrote.

"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 20 gig installation, and most of it is voiceover work. That's the best they have. The rest of the game is a joke," he continued. "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."

Of course, there's no way to substantiate any of this. The Louse is staying anonymous because he wants to collect the few paychecks he has left and nobody at EA with two brain cells to rub together will go anywhere near this minefield. 300 million bucks on an MMO is an awful hard number to swallow; then again, the bitterness evident in the blog does speak to a certain authenticity of experience. I think it's a safe bet that there are some pretty unhappy people in the EA offices this morning, and I won't be surprised if we hear more revelations, accusations, denials and F-bombs over the next few weeks, either.

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Wow...just...wow.

He may have blown a few things out of proportion due the fact that he's mad as hell but geeze.

Wow.

Well, if they make The Old Republic too much like WoW, it will fail.

Because people will just play it, say "its like WoW, but with Star Wars. Why am I playing this when I can play the same game and already be at the top?"

From what I've heard on the gameplay front of TOR, it is basically like WoW, and if that is indeed true, it will be its undoing.

And I really don't want it to fail, because the idea of having 8 KOTOR's in one really makes me happy.

Damn that's a lot of stuff thrown out at once.... I knew that SWTOR had a big budget, but 300 millions? That's rather unbelievable. Then there's all the rest... wonder if there's any truth to any of it. If it is.... just wow.

well the warhammer online launch was pretty badly messed up thats for sure, they were too eager to get it out before a wow expansion

I tend to not believe disgruntled employees and the like since they often (read: always) tell only one side of the story.

300 million sounds about right for a game like Old Republic to be honest. Didn't GTA 4 cost something like 160 million? It can definitely be argued that Old Republic is a far more ambitious title than Grand Theft Auto.

I'm sure a lot of this stuff is true, but the way he's talking about just makes him sound like little kid throwing a temper tantrum because somebody took his favorite toy away. I've been laid off too, it sucks, but I scream and cry about it so much. I also didn't get a month's notice either, I was told on a Thursday that Friday was my last day. My advice to this guy is to suck it up, and move on because there are plenty people who have it worse than him.

And just yesterday I hear of Macris relating a tale about a disgruntled ex-employee trashtalking in this same kind of style. Then again, from the way this is phrased, it's not a stretch to see this employee as belonging to the Mythic team. And considering that by last reports Warhammer is actually still running a profit...his statements of its 'faliure' really do leave me thinking 'oh come the hell on!' Sure it wasn't as awesome as it was hyped to be, but it didn't exactly bomb either, did it?

Meh...we'll wait and see how much of this doomsaying turns out to be anywhere near the ballpark. Until then these kinds of statements made anonymously on the internet will pretty much result in just one type of thought from me 'Lulz, internet!'

EDIT: I actually took the time to read through some of that blog. You know what strikes me? For an artist he is insanely focused on the money and very little on how the work progressed on Warhammer (not the managment, I mean the way they went about making the game) and that maybe, JUST maybe, it wasn't just about the money, management and marketing that led to Warhammer's bombing but also due to certain design choices they made.

But as always yeah...his focus on money and getting 'big numbers of subscribers and cash' while trashtalking? To be honest I have a real hard time considering him to be a credible source of any sort given that he prefers to focus on the same damn things that his evil overlords of the EA focus on as well. If he had focused on explaining *how* the upper managment precisely affected and stifled the work they put in, then I might actually consider him more credible. But this just sounds like the traditional "Wahhh! We were this beautiful special snowflakes and the evil overlords RUINED it all!" diatribe that never goes into the details and always throws about generalizations in one big hissy fit.

Warhammer was just a WoW clone. If Old Republic is the same then hey, another failed MMO to join the ranks of so many.

It's an interesting read but the content is suspect if only for one reason; while I can't verify whether much of what was stated is legitimate or not, I know that everything he said about Star Wars: The Old Republic is inaccurate at best.

RollForInitiative:
I know that everything he said about Star Wars: The Old Republic is inaccurate at best.

You'll pardon me if I'm a little suspicious of that statement.

300 Million on a WoW-clone?
I'd actually believe that. This is THE Star Wars MMO we're talking about here.
Between licensing fees (Lucas Ranch has some of the absolute best Copyright and Licensing Lawyers in the world. That is not hyperbole or an exaggeration either. I mean it.), voice work, game design, server-setup, support staff...it's not a small investment.

And every month it drags on, the more they spend on it.

If this just turns out to being another Reskinned-WoW, the backlash will be savage.
The only thing that might salvage this is the fact that it's still Star Wars; but even that monolith of a franchise has its limits.

Can't say I'm really surprised, but EA being evil is old news, if this guy came forward 3 years ago, maybe he'd get more of a reaction.

Starke:

RollForInitiative:
I know that everything he said about Star Wars: The Old Republic is inaccurate at best.

You'll pardon me if I'm a little suspicious of that statement.

You're pardoned, but I'm in a better position to know than he/she was.

Everyone knows that making it like WoW will be certain failure. :/

I don't really care what happens with KotOR's MMORPG because I didn't want them to make an MMORPG in the first place, I like my games to be the kinds of things that I can leave and come back to. You can't really do that with an MMORPG unless it remains incredibly popular. Remember Star Wars Galaxies? Isn't that still out there somewhere?

Maybe KotOR will be great, maybe it won't, I don't care what some guy says, ultimately I'll have to decide if I ever play it. Isn't that how it always is?

Joining in the chorus that 300 mil isn't that surprising for the reasons Atmos stated above. That said, if this is true then it'll take a huge number of sales and continuing subscribers for them to even brake even. Something like 2.5 million first sales just to recoup half their costs (assuming $60 per game and no additional expenses to run the game with is unlikely). So all in all I wouldn't be surprised if this game "bombs" only because the number of sales required for it not to bomb (ie make back half its development cost) is rediculously high. If it was cross platform then maybe, but PC only seems unlikely.

Fear and loathing in the MMO industry, or, EA is decadent and depraved.

It's not alleged if he claims it himself, it's professed.

You know I hate to say it but none of it would or does surprise me. Like value said when you stop answering to fan and start answering to stalk holders quality just seems to go down. Part of me sadly hopes it such a failure that EA drops Bioware. They made wonderful games but lately they made me say meh. All of this is the thoughts and options of one man.

No surprise at all. EA ruins every company it gets it's hands on. Daoc was a great game, one of the best. Anytime the Evil A$$holes buy a company, they gut it and ruin it completely squeezing every drop out of it, and then look at the corpse and wonder why there's no blood left. Between them, Activision, and Sony, there is little chance that small and independant developers stay that way. Hell, they kill large developers like Westwood and Bioware.

It's only a matter of time before your favorite small game company gets bought, sells out, and everything you ever enjoyed in the game you loved is gone.

In the end with the game industry, it's all about the money. The people who love making games, the artists, the programmers, etc, get used, abused and burnt out. They are exploited for their love of making games. They are made to work 80+ hours a week on salary, in the hopes they are going to get the royalties promised to them. Many of them burn out and leave the industry.

It's really sad to see it happen. In this case WAR could have been one of the best MMOs ever made by a company that KNEW PvP. Thanks EA for sticking your nose into development and ruining it.

Wakefield:
Wow...just...wow.

He may have blown a few things out of proportion due the fact that he's mad as hell but geeze.

Wow.

Essentially my reaction. What I can tell is that this guy is pissed.

More Fun To Compute:
Fear and loathing in the MMO industry, or, EA is decadent and depraved.

It's not alleged if he claims it himself, it's professed.

Actually it *is* alleged because any moron with some savvy can claim to be this 'inside source' within any company (no matter how low down the food chain and unaware of the bigger picture), post an irate blog post about percieved injustices and in the end say 'oh, but I have to stay anonymous cause...yaknow...money and I want to squeeze my evil overlords for whatever I can - FIGHT THE POWAH YO!'

The fact that he chose to remain anonymous means it IS alleged. Had he given out his/her name and come forward, then it would not be and would become an actual statement to which EA might be pressed to reply. But he chose the money apparently over you know...taking an actual stand. Which is precisely why the authenticity of this does not strike me as that much in question (meaning that I doubt this is just being some competitor trying to smear EA), but the reliability of these claims? Horrendously suspect. The EA Spouse's claims resulted in lawsuits, we'll see if this amounts to anything similar or if it's just one of many internet ravings that will be forgotten within a few months.

Meh. Not really surprising news. I expect this kind of behavior from companies like EA and Activision.
Though I am saddened by such reports about my beloved Bioware. Don't really want to believe it, but where there is smoke, there likely is fire. So there may be some truth to it.

This news doesn't make a lick of difference to me. As long as ME3 is good and gives us a satisfying ending, that's all I care about.

300 million? Hah, not more? But yeah, it could be all hogwash for all we know, but MMO's are often disasters even before they release. I for one will at least give it a spinn, even though I've given up on MMO's altogether.

Just hope that Bioware themselfs don't dig their own grave with this one, because that would be a great shame.

I still wish Star Wars Galaxies were as it "were", back in "the days". It was a great game for exploring, homedecoration alá the Sims and the occational blaster fight behind the cantina in Mos Eisley. And the flight simulation Jump to Lightspeed was fucking awesome.

How I miss you, SWG :(

FuzzySeduction:
Remember Star Wars Galaxies? Isn't that still out there somewhere?

my roommate played that till about 2 months ago when he got his 360. Not my thing, but its still going.

There's only one reason that articles and blogs like this are so fun to read.

I'll let the grown up Sesame Street explain.

Well 300 million, I doubt it, but frankly I still expect great things from that game regardless. If it does fail, I shudder to think what will happen to Bioware.

This Louse guy is truly hilarious. I love it when disgruntled employees spout off at their overseers, as the amount of bile is comparable to Yahtzee's after a night of Kane and Lynch: Dog Days.

Loonerinoes:

More Fun To Compute:
Fear and loathing in the MMO industry, or, EA is decadent and depraved.

It's not alleged if he claims it himself, it's professed.

Actually it *is* alleged because any moron with some savvy can claim to be this 'inside source' within any company (no matter how low down the food chain and unaware of the bigger picture), post an irate blog post about percieved injustices and in the end say 'oh, but I have to stay anonymous cause...yaknow...money and I want to squeeze my evil overlords for whatever I can - FIGHT THE POWAH YO!'

The fact that he chose to remain anonymous means it IS alleged. Had he given out his/her name and come forward, then it would not be and would become an actual statement to which EA might be pressed to reply. But he chose the money apparently over you know...taking an actual stand. Which is precisely why the authenticity of this does not strike me as that much in question (meaning that I doubt this is just being some competitor trying to smear EA), but the reliability of these claims? Horrendously suspect. The EA Spouse's claims resulted in lawsuits, we'll see if this amounts to anything similar or if it's just one of many internet ravings that will be forgotten within a few months.

Professed doesn't mean verified but alleged implies that someone else is accusing him of the misdeed of working for EA when he is claiming himself to be a such a pitiable person.

I doubt the guy is in a position to really comment on the gameplay and such of TOR, and if he'd paid attention he'd know that BioWare only put heavy focus on the voice acting aspect initially, and it's been long since they last even talked about it. It was a solid feature to talk about early on, since it's unique for the MMO market and guaranteed to not be subject to change.

300 million? Yawn. Like that's a big surprise.

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 20 gig installation, and most of it is voiceover work.

Errr... I think he means voice work. Not voiceover work. And that is something impressive. To me at least.

That's the best they have. The rest of the game is a joke,"

Well, I *could* take his word for it.... but I've seen gameplay videos, and it looks pretty sweet to me.

Is it regular business practice to hand the financial books over to one single person that it has nothing to do with (like, you know, an artist)?

I smell bullshit.

It wouldn't surprise me if any of that were true.

"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?"

Best line ever.

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I think I'm going to fall down and die from not surprised.

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