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.