BioWare Co-Founder: RPGs Are Becoming "Less Relevant"

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EverythingIncredible:
It's less about games and more about marketing.

Newsflash: It has ALWAYS been about marketing.

Back in the days 12-15 years ago, the market was just drastically different. Games were still a relatively new medium, and the medium had just reached the era where they could take the medium in a new direction (for example the transition from MIDI-based sounds to actual recorded sounds, voices and music, as well as the ability to include cutscenes, and 3D graphics had just been born), which meant that there was plenty of room for experimentation and niche-appeal.

Those times are over. Since internet access went widespread, everyone in general knows about almost every AAA title out there, all the details are being laid bare by previews and reviews that you can read all over the world as long as you have internet access, which has mainstreamed the market. The only people that are left with actual experimentation are Indie-developers with their (in many cases) original ideas, but their games are in pretty much all cases made on a low budget (and before someone mentions Portal 2, i will remind you that it's a sequel to a game that, just like indie games, was made on a low budget). Experimentation in indie-games pay off because they usually have a very low budget, but experimentation in big AAA titles just doesn't pay off.

BioWare hasn't changed much back from their Baldur's Gate-times. The world has changed.

Piss on the last few RPGs which are for soem reason drooled over as mainstays of RPGs then claim RPGs are meh......... thats like taking a sht and then stepping in it....

Athinira:

EverythingIncredible:
It's less about games and more about marketing.

Newsflash: It has ALWAYS been about marketing.

Back in the days 12-15 years ago, the market was just drastically different. Games were still a relatively new medium, and the medium had just reached the era where they could take the medium in a new direction (for example the transition from MIDI-based sounds to actual recorded sounds, voices and music, as well as the ability to include cutscenes, and 3D graphics had just been born), which meant that there was plenty of room for experimentation and niche-appeal.

Those times are over. Since internet access went widespread, everyone in general knows about almost every AAA title out there, all the details are being laid bare by previews and reviews that you can read all over the world as long as you have internet access, which has mainstreamed the market. The only people that are left with actual experimentation are Indie-developers with their (in many cases) original ideas, but their games are in pretty much all cases made on a low budget (and before someone mentions Portal 2, i will remind you that it's a sequel to a game that, just like indie games, was made on a low budget). Experimentation in indie-games pay off because they usually have a very low budget, but experimentation in big AAA titles just doesn't pay off.

BioWare hasn't changed much back from their Baldur's Gate-times. The world has changed.

Not really BG was a huge game KOTOR was dumbed down but charming they kept the dumbed down and lost the charming bit.

GonzoGamer:
Is this his way of telling us that the next Dragon Age is going to be an FPS?

Dragon Age 3, play with 1 sword and 1 bow BUT you will be able to socket up to 5 gems per weapon!

Ok, now OT:

Well, it isn't really surprising as everyone suspected this already but as someone already said they seem to have forgotten, that going the 'old school' way with DA:O was pretty profitable (just forget the horrible expansion...).
The problem is they aren't able to shove out a game like DA:O every year or every 2 years, they need more time for a polished product.

Woodsey:
Dragon Age: Origins was a throwback to their classic RPGs, smashed their own sales expectations, and I'm pretty sure faired better than DA2 (and if it didn't it fucking should have).

So, yeah. This was only 2 years ago, not exactly a long time ago.

They seem to be becoming so obsessed with replicating the success of Mass Effect 1 and 2 (and I compeltely agree with the direction Mass Effect 2 took, because it was right for that particular series) as well as trying to apply to every single person, that they're just losing why people liked them so much in the first place.

Personally I think (and hope) that DA2 was just a slip-up, but this is worrying coming from the studio head.

I am getting really bored of developers thinking they should make their games for everyone. Make the game, and those who do like it will play it, those who don't like it won't.

And don't make games where they're simplified with the sole purpose of gaining a wider audience. I'm no good at Total War (even though I'd like to play them more), so I don't fucking play them. I don't expect the developers to suddenly target me.

If I really had that much desire to play I'd fucking get up and put the onus on myself to learn, and not the expense of existing fans.

Well actually i thought that DA;O was a very flawed throwback to their earlier RPGs and it STILL sold like hot-cakes becuase people were craving a "Good old fashioned RPG". I think the RPG is MORE relevant not necesserialy as a genre but for the lessons they teach us about engaging play. Single player is still popular despite waht some douche-bag social-game humping analysts may say and proof of people wanting comelling solitary experiences is prertty much in that they keep telling the studios they do over and over gain both with their voices and wallets.

The Genre-benders and undergound hits have come from RPG-ifying another genre. The PC gaming underground heroes are either very hardcore RPGs (the wither/2 Mount and Blade etc) or really venture into RPG territory in their mechanics (STALKER etc). There is a real hunger for RPGs out there both in the dedicated niche and the mainstream and Bioware would be a fool to let more ambitious studios fill it for them.

People still want deep games and i think it would be selling this generation of gamers short not to at least offer them a challenging yet engaging experince. Trust your audience and they will reward you and enrich themselves.

If this means they want to eliminate all of the arcane bullshit and micromanaging in RPGs, Godspeed to them.

RPGs have been too bogged-down for too long. The only thing we should take note of is if things like character customization, character growth, and expanding abilities start to go in serious quantities.

Sounds like Bioware are becoming less relevant.

Thankfully companies like 38 Studios/BHG are stepping up with real RPGs. Skyrim is coming out. Witcher 2 was recently released, etc. Guild Wars 2 will be heaps more fun than Bioware's upcoming crap MMO too :)

How about making an adventure game in the fashion of Grim Fandango or Blade Runner?

There are hardly any of those games around. Games that required little to no "run and gun" at all but actual thought. Because of that - they had a great story to boot.

Would that make money? Yes. Just market it well and it will work purely because it will have hardly any competition.

There are too many FPS games around these days. Too many "Action" RPGs that are, essentially, FPS games with some NPC interaction.

Whilst I do like some FPS games - its saturated. Enough is enough already.

Athinira:

EverythingIncredible:
It's less about games and more about marketing.

Newsflash: It has ALWAYS been about marketing.

Back in the days 12-15 years ago, the market was just drastically different. Games were still a relatively new medium, and the medium had just reached the era where they could take the medium in a new direction (for example the transition from MIDI-based sounds to actual recorded sounds, voices and music, as well as the ability to include cutscenes, and 3D graphics had just been born), which meant that there was plenty of room for experimentation and niche-appeal.

Those times are over. Since internet access went widespread, everyone in general knows about almost every AAA title out there, all the details are being laid bare by previews and reviews that you can read all over the world as long as you have internet access, which has mainstreamed the market. The only people that are left with actual experimentation are Indie-developers with their (in many cases) original ideas, but their games are in pretty much all cases made on a low budget (and before someone mentions Portal 2, i will remind you that it's a sequel to a game that, just like indie games, was made on a low budget). Experimentation in indie-games pay off because they usually have a very low budget, but experimentation in big AAA titles just doesn't pay off.

BioWare hasn't changed much back from their Baldur's Gate-times. The world has changed.

BioWare, as well as gaming in general as changed.

As DICE will tell you, when they were making Battlefield 2, it was mostly "We're making the game the way we want it and if they don't like it, **** 'em." And look how that game turned out. Now DICE decided to make Battlefield 3 for the audience rather than themselves so the game is really turning out to be a Call of Duty clone with a conquest mode.

Games should be less about the audience and more about conveying the experience that the developer wants to convey. That's how the truly great games are made.

RPGS are releveant, but how they used to be is LESS relevant. You can blend the genres and make the rpg stuff less obvious and that makes the game run better but you are still leveling up etc. Just making them not so much of a grind or as obvious as early rpgs. When you look at jrpgs, they have not evolved or changed at all in the last 20 years or whatever. FF13 was a mess and a chore, same story, characters an world they have in all their games. They need to try something different, cut back the grind, focus on story. No more cliche and whiny characters. If your game has great story and characters we can support and get behind, we will play your game to the end. Add grinding sessions just to level weapons and life isnt needed so much.

ZippyDSMlee:
Not really BG was a huge game KOTOR was dumbed down but charming they kept the dumbed down and lost the charming bit.

...and they still sell, which is what matters to them.

Why? Because "dumbed down" games have become more popular.

Now to the question: Is that a bad thing?

For those of us who likes great games with depth, it's a sad thing to see indeed.
For those investor people... well, they're still laughing all the way to the bank.

I think it's sad, but at least i understand it.

EverythingIncredible:
BioWare, as well as gaming in general as changed.

As DICE will tell you, when they were making Battlefield 2, it was mostly "We're making the game the way we want it and if they don't like it, **** 'em." And look how that game turned out. Now DICE decided to make Battlefield 3 for the audience rather than themselves so the game is really turning out to be a Call of Duty clone with a conquest mode.

Games should be less about the audience and more about conveying the experience that the developer wants to convey. That's how the truly great games are made.

Again: That's the perspective of the naive customers. Try to explain that idea to an investor and see how it goes.

Let's get something straigth now: For big companies, making games has ALWAYS been about turning a profit.

Even the DICE explanation for Battlefield 2 is a sham. It might be how the developers approach it when they have been given a green light to actually make the game, but even before that stage, someone had to convince the man on top to fund it. Some game studios might have less ties to investors, and a more idealistic approach about how to make games that sell well, but at the end of the day, it's STILL about profit. Different road and method of travel, but same destination.

Turning the question around for a minute: Ask yourself why noone is making another "great RPG" that isn't dumbed down? Obvious answer: Because noone in the industry really trusts that this kind of game can turn as great a profit anymore.

Now to the question i want you to answer: Why do you think that trust has been lost in the last decade?

Well that explains alot, and I see where hes coming from as he hasto sell their games to the masses, the casual market just doesn't care for complexity and a full on RPG in that crowd will simply be ignored.

What I hope for however is that they make a bunch of casual games and one proper RPG project on the side.

Bioware is just making up excuses now as to why their RPG's have been less substantial as time has gone by.

mwnrnc:
Strange, I would think that the fact that so many games are taking on RPG elements, like leveling, 'character sheet' development, loot, would make RPGs more relevant than ever before.

And that's exactly it right there. With all of the RPG components getting into other games, there are less people saying "I really want an RPG right now!"

I don't know how accurate of an analogy this is, but imagine if every restaurant in the world - regardless of whether it's italian, mexican, french, or sushi - suddenly added fast food hamburgers w/ fries to the menu for $5. If you KNEW that no matter where you ate that you could get a greasy burger for $5, would you EVER find yourself craving a burger joint? I think most people wouldn't.

For myself, I used to loooooove RPGs. But nowadays, I can find a game that features all of those elements I liked without all of the tedium. I love Mass Effect's improvements. No grinding, no 4 hrs spent selling/buying/gelling all of my stuff... Red Dead's multiplayer has a leveling up system, Halo Reach has plenty of gear to buy/equip. Outside of the story, hardcore RPGs don't offer much you can't find elsewhere, plus some.

So yea, I absolutely agree with Greg that those features in more dynamic kinds of games make a pureblood RPG much less appealing in general. But given the feeding frenzy those hardcore little RPG bastids are in for Bioware, I don't think his phrasing is doing him much service. Blood in the water, Greg! You put blood in the water! Flee for your life!

That's just wrong. RPG's are more relevant now than ever. The fact that so many developers choose to implement RPG elements in their games doesn't mean RPG in it's pure form is irrelevant. It just means most there are almost no more pure genres left in the gaming industry. That's a good thing. Games that incorporate more than one genre can offer a lot more if done right. But pure RPG will never be gone. If Bioware becomes just another EA drone, another company will emerge, hell-bound to return RPG to it's roots. It's just how this industry works.

My god... the sheer butthurt on this thread is facepalm worthy.

Bioware is NOT saying that RPGs are irrelevant but that the GENRE with all the cumbersome mechanics like 1% pistol damage or the vast weighty list of inventory is getting old and out-of-date.

Instead rather than focusing making a good RPG, Bioware focuses on making a great game with a fully interactive story. They refuse to be weigh down by genre conventions which they believe is IRRELEVANT.

This title is misleading.

Bioware believes that people play games like Mass Effect because they want to meet Tali or battle for the fate of the galaxy and not because they want to figure out what pretty armor to wear etc.

People play the Witcher 2 for choices and consequences, for characters like Saskia and Roche, and for the story and not because of the fun inventory sorting and stat-building.

Savber:
My god... the sheer butthurt on this thread is facepalm worthy.

Bioware is NOT saying that RPGs are irrelevant but that the GENRE with all the cumbersome mechanics like 1% pistol damage or the vast weighty list of inventory is getting old and out-of-date.

Instead rather than focusing making a good RPG, Bioware focuses on making a great game. They refuse to be weigh down by genre conventions which they believe is IRRELEVANT.

You mean making action games....

Well, I've always argued that there is no such thing as a "Pure RPG" They don't exist, not really. They're just games with various elements of role-playing mixed in. Maybe that's why I don't get pissed at Bioware as much as most people.

Pure RPGs don't exist. The elements of RPGs are meant to represent growth. Growth is only one aspect of a good game. So, yeah. This idea of an "RPG" was never really relevant. :\

ZippyDSMlee:

Savber:
My god... the sheer butthurt on this thread is facepalm worthy.

Bioware is NOT saying that RPGs are irrelevant but that the GENRE with all the cumbersome mechanics like 1% pistol damage or the vast weighty list of inventory is getting old and out-of-date.

Instead rather than focusing making a good RPG, Bioware focuses on making a great game. They refuse to be weigh down by genre conventions which they believe is IRRELEVANT.

You mean making action games....

Ok. Lets say that Bioware is making action games. And?

Seriously, the elitism that is implied is sickening and just downright stupid.

"OH NOOOEZ, BIOWARE MAKES ACTION GAMES! BIOWARE APPEALS TO STUPID PEOPLE! HERP DERP!"

It's a freaking GAME. Why are we acting like playing RPGs is a sign of intelligence?

If Mass Effect 2 is the direction for future action games, I say count me in.

Inkidu:
Well, I've always argued that there is no such thing as a "Pure RPG" They don't exist, not really. They're just games with various elements of role-playing mixed in. Maybe that's why I don't get pissed at Bioware as much as most people.

Pure RPGs don't exist. The elements of RPGs are meant to represent growth. Growth is only one aspect of a good game. So, yeah. This idea of an "RPG" was never really relevant. :\

The last 4 or 5 bioware games are not RPGs tho they are watered down adventure style games focused on action over everything else. They are trying to change the meaning of the genre forgetting its easier to change genres............

EverythingIncredible:
There was a time when developers made games that appealed to themselves and anyone else who'd like it. And anyone who didn't like it just wasn't part of the audience. They made games more for themselves.

Now it is just "How to we appeal to <these groups of people>"

It's less about games and more about marketing.

Concerning major developers, that was a time when games were much cheaper to make and people had less choices in entertainment. Smaller ones still obviously make the types of games they themselves would play because they have the luxury of doing so.

I feel like nobody is going to actually read what he said, and just jump to conclusions based on the title...and hey! I'm right.

OT: He has a good point, but people here just see the words "less", "RPG" and "BioWare" in a title and begin to flip shit. Everyone saying "He's wrong, almost every game is implementing RPG elements!" are really missing the ENTIRE point, and are actually agreeing with him, FFS.

MissAshley:

EverythingIncredible:
There was a time when developers made games that appealed to themselves and anyone else who'd like it. And anyone who didn't like it just wasn't part of the audience. They made games more for themselves.

Now it is just "How to we appeal to <these groups of people>"

It's less about games and more about marketing.

Concerning major developers, that was a time when games were much cheaper to make and people had less choices in entertainment. Smaller ones still obviously make the types of games they themselves would play because they have the luxury of doing so.

How in the hell dose a AAA not sell well when utter crap can sell and do well?

I guess at the end of the day they have trolled us all...

EverythingIncredible:
BioWare has gotten so wrapped up in how to appeal to mass audiences that they forgot what makes RPGs good.

There was a time when developers made games that appealed to themselves and anyone else who'd like it. And anyone who didn't like it just wasn't part of the audience. They made games more for themselves.

Now it is just "How to we appeal to <these groups of people>"

It's less about games and more about marketing.

bam, this.

i mean, jeez if you cant make a range of games that stand apart and sell well in their niece category's then i honestly doubt your ability to make one uber game that can fill all the roles
it's basically the same thing except you're forcing that uber game on everyone that doesn't want 75% of it, so you know what? they'll just pirate it or ignore it for being a bloated cash-grab

everyone goes on about 'gamer entitlement' but really, it's the company's that start this there's no standard 'game length' or content requirement, you don't have runtime on the box like a film, and i don't see a way of judging that fairly anyway
the issue that gamers argue is this,
if they don't get the slice of the entertainment they want from this large
omni-game then despite how much other content there may be they wont be enjoying themselves and the value to them is far smaller than a game that's specifically what they want

the value is elsewhere they could probably buy 2-3 steam games with highly addictive game-play for the value of the bloated omni-game
all i can say is prepare for a massive wave of piracy if you go down that road.

the only way i can see this Working is if you sell an fps, say then have dlc that unlocks a new way to play the game entirely through rpg elements
possibly from different sides of a war
but they would have to be a good long length or the value / game-play is taking a nosedive
and that's really what it's about
personally i'd love to play the same game from different viewpoints, a logistics / rts war, at the same time in a different dlc version you play the game as a single one of the soldiers you deployed and snipe off half the enemy army, then as a commander of a boat, and coordinate artillery, sink enemy ships all unlock-able from the main game, and have each campaign remember how you played the last and keep the persistent universe tight knit and keep continuity between your personal campaigns
that would work for me, i'd be quite happy with that in-fact.

epic are planning to do wonderful things by going back to basics with multi-game ideology and not packing crap into every corner of a game that it does not belong in
i think bio-ware should carefully consider their ideas before they start loosing money to it
cause i don't know about anyone else but i wont be buying bloated games with 75% weird content that i don't want

#edit#
missing sentence, fixed

Dragon Age: Origins, your best selling game to date, would like to have a word with you.

KAPTAINmORGANnWo4life:
If this means they want to eliminate all of the arcane bullshit and micromanaging in RPGs, Godspeed to them.

RPGs have been too bogged-down for too long. The only thing we should take note of is if things like character customization, character growth, and expanding abilities start to go in serious quantities.

Hear hear! I agree completely. I would love it if a lot of games went the Mass Effect 2 route. Rip out the inventory management and grinding that brings these games to their knees, and then glue on another genre. They don't all have to be Shooter/RPG hybrids like ME2. Maybe some strategy games, racing games, maybe even a few puzzle games could be amazing as a 50/50 RPG hybrid.

Ive been playing RPGs over 20 years now, they have been my favourite genre since I can remember, and I wholeheartedly agree with this statement. Rpg elements have been trending into almost every other genre imaginable, same with story and narrative. Most people are demanding something more action packed while still keeping the story and progression continuous, and IMO Bioware has been consistent on delivering that, however, not perfectly.

The last decade, and even before, has seen the emergence of platformer rpgs, beat 'em up rpgs, fps rpgs, top down shooter rpgs, flight sim rpgs, you name it. With the penetration of indie developers the old style rpgs arent going away any time soon, and bioware will still be making games such as Mass Effect and Dragon Age, and likely evolving beyond that even. So long as they always have a good story I'll be a customer.

At this time, however, I would very much like to see "rpgs" move away from fantasy and sci-fi. I love the genres but they are done to death. I'm still waiting for my MMOFPSRPG Steam-punk, survival-horror, zombie apocalypse.

EverythingIncredible:

McMullen:

EverythingIncredible:
BioWare has gotten so wrapped up in how to appeal to mass audiences that they forgot what makes RPGs good.

There was a time when developers made games that appealed to themselves and anyone else who'd like it. And anyone who didn't like it just wasn't part of the audience. They made games more for themselves.

Now it is just "How to we appeal to <these groups of people>"

It's less about games and more about marketing.

That's the trajectory of most successful corporate life cycles. Eventually they have to abandon certain of their values and original goals to focus more on increasing shareholder value, especially at the large, rapidly growing ones, or ones that, like Bioware, have recently been purchased by larger companies.

That said, this Greg Zeschuk is not a good PR guy at all, and should be kept from speaking to the gaming press or the fans. Many people already suspected this was Bioware's attitude, so it didn't even need to be said. And it should have been said with more tact. Personally, I don't care, and I actually believe that he should be able to say that without worrying about negative reactions from the fans, but I've been on the internet long enough to know that in the current climate, his statement is PR poison.

But this is the attitude that leaves great niche games in the dust.

Not exactly. Those games are released by small indie dev studios and publishers.

The cost of development for a game like Mass Effect or a Bethesda Softworks Fallout game is tremendous. A publisher won't spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to release a game that won't sell to a lot of people - people with differing tastes. So, studios can go back to making games appealing only to them and a certain set of people. We, as consumers, just need to be prepared to sacrifice our 40-hour epics and our high-end graphics, and less than horrible voice-acting, and stories told through in-game audio instead of a big block of text, etc., etc.

A Guide to Pissing Off Your Core Demographic by Greg Zeschuk.

Firstly you start appealing to a mass audience focusing less on the niche group that you appealed to, do this two or three times and then you alienate your core audience by releasing a statement that says what we used to do is becoming less relavant.

ZippyDSMlee:

Inkidu:
Well, I've always argued that there is no such thing as a "Pure RPG" They don't exist, not really. They're just games with various elements of role-playing mixed in. Maybe that's why I don't get pissed at Bioware as much as most people.

Pure RPGs don't exist. The elements of RPGs are meant to represent growth. Growth is only one aspect of a good game. So, yeah. This idea of an "RPG" was never really relevant. :\

The last 4 or 5 bioware games are not RPGs tho they are watered down adventure style games focused on action over everything else. They are trying to change the meaning of the genre forgetting its easier to change genres............

None of Bioware's games have been RPGs. What people consider an RPG is just an adventure game where you growth as said adventurer is facilitated through stats and abilities. There is no RPG just RP elements. The degree is what gets most people pissy.

Oh you are about great games? As opposed to all the companies devoted to making bad games maybe? It would have been more interesting to read about your visions of what you think a great game is.

If you go on making relevant WoW clones and CoD clones, I'll just stick to beautiful, deep and irrelevant games. Or you could try having some individual thoughts again, and make relevant innovation.

The.Bard:

I don't know how accurate of an analogy this is, but imagine if every restaurant in the world - regardless of whether it's italian, mexican, french, or sushi - suddenly added fast food hamburgers w/ fries to the menu for $5. If you KNEW that no matter where you ate that you could get a greasy burger for $5, would you EVER find yourself craving a burger joint? I think most people wouldn't.

Right now all the Italian, Mexican and French restaurants only serve burgers, and I crave some pasta, or anything that isn't burger.

*looks at Dragon Age: Origins sales*

*cocks eyebrow*

I think it is irrelevant to say that a genre is becoming irrelevant. Look to the Eastern nation and they will show you just how irrelevant the RPG genre is. The western taste of things has always been different in the east. This is why there is a sub genre within the genre known as JRPG. Come on Bioware pull your head out of your ass you are not reinventing any genre you are just making a hybrid of shit that is popular in the east to apply to a mass audience. I'm sure the EA mentality is now a virus of Bioware.

forum bug, double post

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