Jedi Fallen Order Part 25: Pitch Meeting

By Shamus Posted Thursday Feb 25, 2021

Filed under: Retrospectives 86 comments

I should note that this entry was written months before EA lost their exclusive rights to Star Wars video games. Oh yeah, and in case you didn’t hear:  EA lost their exclusive rights to Star Wars video games. That’s an important thing to note.

At any rate, I imagine the pitch meeting for this game went something like this…

Pitch Meeting

FADE IN: SPACE

Our view pans slowly from the vastness of space to a looming grey space station hanging over earth. It’s in the shape of Mickey Mouse’s smiling head. This is the DISNEY STAR, a moon-sized structure of immense economic power. We move in closer and see that enormous spaceships are coming and going from Mickey’s mouth. Moving closer still, we see these massive hauler ships are emblazoned with pictures of Luke Skywalker, Elsa of Arendelle, Buzz Lightyear, and Iron Man. As ships land, we can see their cargo doors are bent cartoonishly outward, bursting at the seams with money. 

We pass through this cargo bay and come to a vast cavern with elevators zooming up and down, carrying personnel to all areas of the space station. The lifts have names on the sides like, PRINCESS DIVISION, PARKS AND RESORTS, PIXAR, and MARVEL. At the far wall, in a dark corner, is a tiny metal door. The word BASEMENT is painted onto the wall in multiple alien languages. The door snaps open to reveal a grimy disused metal staircase. We plunge down, down, down through countless levels. Faster and faster. The space gets darker and dingier as we descend. Eventually we reach the bottom-most door, which features a messy hand-written cardboard sign proclaiming “VIDEO GAME DIVISION”.

Inside, we find two low-ranking Disney Officers. One is an eager young writer, and the other is an older world-weary producer. (They both look the same for some inexplicable reason.)

Producer: 

So you’ve got a Star Wars video game for me? 

Writer: 

Yes sir I do! I think this should be a story about a Jedi re-connecting with the force after leaving the Jedi world behind.

Producer: 

Ah yes, a Kyle Katarn style story. That’s a nice, safe way to go.

Writer: 

Also, he’s living as a scrapper on a remote world.

Producer: 

Sure, throw some Rey in there too. Spice things up.

Writer: 

He’s dealing with the death of his master, who was killed by the Empire.

Producer: 

Okay, so Luke then? And I guess a bit of Obi-Wan Kenobi, too. This all sounds very safe.

Writer: 

He gets a new master, and she’s disconnected from the force too. She cut herself off from the force because one of her previous students turned evil.

Producer: 

So you want to take another swing at the ideas in Last Jedi? That’s… fine? I think? But do we really want both student and teacher to have commitment problems with the force?

Writer: 

The game will have us exploring ancient ruins from a long-gone force-sensitive race to learn the secrets of the force.

Producer: 

Right, right. So basically the planet Korriban from KOTOR. That sounds like a solid main plot for a video game. Good job.

Writer: 

Also, we have to visit Kashyyk and liberate the Wookies!

Producer: 

I guess liberating those furry bastards is a tried and true Star Wars story. I do wonder why the Empire keeps trying to enslave them, but whatever. I guess that will make a good B plot.

Writer: 

Also, we’re going to have a fallen Jedi ruling over an indigenous tribe, kinda like Apocalypse Now.

Producer: 

Wow. That’s… Just to be clear, we’re talking about ONE game here, right? Because this sounds like a lot of-

Writer: 

(Interrupting) Also, we have a bit where the main character gets kidnapped and has to fight in a gladiatorial arena.

Producer: 

We did that in KOTOR, but okay. But when are we going to have time for this?

Writer: 

The whole adventure will be a hunt for a starmap that leads us to force-sensitive children!

Producer: 

A starmap that leads to Jedi? So we’re throwing Force Awakens in the stew, with a dash of the main plot from KOTOR again? I kinda feel like we have too many main plots already. 

Writer: 

We’re also going to meet Saw Gerrera. He’ll be invaluable at first, but his methods will make him a troublesome ally.

Producer: 

That’s just the same exact character arc from Rogue One. Is there ANY part of this story that isn’t recycled?

Writer: 

At the end we have to enter a doomsday Sith base…

Producer:

(Interrupts and begins counting titles on fingers) A New Hope, Return of the Jedi, KOTOR, KOTOR 2, Force Awakens… 

Writer: 

(Overlapping) …and face down the student who turned to evil!

Producer: 

(Exasperated.) Sure. Throw some Revenge of the Sith in there. Anything else? You gonna put the Yuuzhan Vong War in there too? Why not just re-tell the entire Prequel Trilogy while we’re at it? We can put in a flashback that covers the entire history of The Old Republic

Writer: 

(Getting very excited now.) Also, our final battle will be against DARTH VADER!

Producer: 

(Pause. Producer Guy looks unsure.)
Doesn’t this sound a little overstuffed?

Writer:

It does, yes.

Producer: 

Overstuffed things are TIGHT!

Writer: 

Yes. That is tautologically true. I’m a writer, so… I know lots of big words.

Producer: 

Okay. But isn’t it going to be hard to reconcile so many different plots in one story?

Writer: 

Actually it’s going to be super easy, barely an inconvenience. I’ll just short-change all of the stories, end them without a sense of closure, shuffle them together, and rush through them without regard to pacing or emotional stakes.

Producer: 

(Doubtful.) I don’t know. I told you I wanted the best Star Wars story you could come up with, and you’ve got like, five games worth of plots here?

(Beat.)

Writer: 

Oh, the BEST Star Wars? I’m sorry, I thought you said you wanted the MOST Star Wars.

Producer: 

Whoops.

Writer: 

Whoopsie. 

Producer: 

Whatever. It’s a video game. I doubt anyone cares about the writing.

CUT TO: INT – SHAMUS YOUNG’S OFFICE – NIGHT

Shamus is playing Star Wars Jedi: Fallen OrderEA™.

Shamus: 

What the hell is going on with this story?

FADE OUT

With apologies to Pitch Meeting

I want to stress that I don’t think it’s a bad thing to reuse tropes and ideas from earlier works. I just think it’s a bad thing if you only use tropes and plots from earlier works. Give it a fresh spin. Do something different. 

Personally, I’d have been glad to see one of these plot threads droppedPreferably the out-of-nowhere, perfunctory misadventure with Sorc Tormo. so the rest of them could have a little more breathing room and closure.

Meanwhile, at Electronic Arts…

Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen: Tragically.
Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen: Tragically.

Of course, this game wasn’t actually written by anyone aboard the DISNEY STAR. It was written by the team at Respawn Entertainment, on behalf of EA. EA doesn’t have their own Death Star, but if they did it would look a little different from Disney’s. For every cargo ship hauling in money, they’d have a garbage scow hauling away a load of shuttered studios, ruined IP, and dead Bothan interns.

To figure out what actually happened to this script, we need to go back.

A few weeks ago I shared a unhinged rant detailed analysis about how EA (mis)managed project Ragtag, the now-canceled game that was supposed to focus on a bunch of smugglers instead of yet another story revolving around Luke & Friends. In that same project, the developers also had this exchange with the EA leadership:

[Project director Amy Hennig] also wasn’t used to working with a corporation like Electronic Arts. Despite being owned by electronics giant Sony, Naughty Dog had been able to operate autonomously, in large part because they were widely perceived as the corporation’s prestige video game studio. At EA, however, things were different. “She was giving these massive presentations on the story, themes,” said one person who worked on Ragtag. “EA executives are like, ‘FIFA Ultimate Team makes a billion dollars a year.’ Where’s your version of that?”

I want to punch somebody.

*Cartoonish strawman villain noises*
*Cartoonish strawman villain noises*

This is like a parody of stereotypical executive behavior. This is the kind of ridiculous strawman executive you’d see in a children’s movie, where some earnest engineer is trying to explain the new product they’re making and the executive doesn’t care because he’s literally uninterested in his own products. The fat pinstriped cigar-chomping executive just waves the nerd away with, “Who cares! Someone tell me how much money I made this week!”

If this report is to be believed, then there is literally nobody in management that cares about the tonal or thematic content of their products, not even when the product is a billion-dollar prestige license on loan from THE DISNEY CORPORATION. 

The EA leadership aren’t gaming executives. They’re cartoon characters

“Our understanding of Star Wars is lame and narrow, therefore your creative decisions must also be lame and narrow.” Also, FIFA makes a billion dollars a year, so why can’t you make a billion dollars a year with a different property in a different genre with a different business model for a different audience?” 

I know the joke is that Hollywood producers are amoral and artistically bankrupt, but can you imagine Hollywood types refusing to greenlight Always Be My Maybe because it wasn’t going to make 2.5 billion dollars like Avengers Endgame? Even soulless Hollywood producers understand the basic concept of market segmentation.

I’ve made the case before that EA doesn’t understand the business that they’re in, but how can they possibly misunderstand it this badly? I could understand if the argument was something like, “Your projected budget is too big and we don’t think the game would turn a profit.” That would be a reasonable argument that someone could make if they had some vague grasp of sales trends in various genres and had some basic framework for making comparisons. But the EA leadership doesn’t have that, so they expect a Star Wars game to compete with FIFA.

Why hire successful industry veterans and then second-guess their creative decisions? Note how backwards this is. These executives – who clearly don’t understand games OR Star Wars – presumed to dictate creative decisions to industry veterans who had previously made very successful titlesAmy Hennig is a BEAST. She’s got  Legacy of Kain, Jak and Daxter, AND Uncharted on her resume! Get out of her way, man.. At the same time, EA was apparently asleep at the wheel when Anthem was in need of oversight and leadership. They’re imposing creative decisions they’re unqualified to make, while shirking their duties as managers

Note also that history has proven the EA leadership to be hilariously, grotesquely wrong. The public was indeed ready for a story that didn’t revolve around the Skywalker family. The Mandalorian came out in 2019, and – unlike the last few Star Wars movies – it was a massive hit with fans and critics alike. Project Ragtag could have tapped into this desire to see the REST of this rich universe. With talent like Hennig at the helm, it had a better-than-average chance of being a quality game. It could have been the launch of a new franchise for EA. 

But no. Shitcan the project because it doesn’t have Chewbaca and slot machines. You dumb fucks. 

EA is an all-clown circus, and I really wish someone would show Andrew “Lootbox” Wilson the door before he does any more damageReminder that “They’re making money” isn’t a proper defense. If you cancel a project that could have made a lot of money, then you’ve made a bad decision, even if you’re still in the green at the end of the year. Being a good leader means getting the most out of the assets available to you, not just avoiding red ink.

The Most Star Wars

Fine. Whatever. Just don't trust it to EA.
Fine. Whatever. Just don't trust it to EA.

This certainly explains why Jedi: Fallen Order feels like such a collage of established ideas. The writer wanted to make absolutely sure this project was sufficiently Star Wars-y for the hooting clowns in the EA boardroom.

The punchline to all of this is that I never cared about the Star Wars aspect of this game. In fact, I rolled my eyes during the 2019 E3 showcase, assuming this would be a lazy action game with a Star Wars paint job. It wasn’t until I heard about the gameplay that I decided to pick it up. The most important attribute of this game is something that’s invisible to the non-gaming executives at EA.

But now SWJFO is a hit. Maybe this means that EA will back off and give the team at Respawn entertainment the freedom to tell their own stories instead of creating mixtapes of Star Wars tropes. I don’t mind the mixtape, but I get the feeling this writer has a lot more they could be doing.

EDIT – Just before publication: Like I said at the top of the article, Disney ended their exclusivity deal and is allowing other publishers / studios to make Star Wards games. That’s far better than just hoping the EA stops being a creative impediment to their studios. It’s actually better than I could have hoped for six months ago, when I wrote the above paragraph.

In that spirit, next time I’m going to finally end this series by offering my own suggestions for what direction the sequels might take.

 

Footnotes:

[1] Preferably the out-of-nowhere, perfunctory misadventure with Sorc Tormo.

[2] Amy Hennig is a BEAST. She’s got  Legacy of Kain, Jak and Daxter, AND Uncharted on her resume! Get out of her way, man.

[3] Reminder that “They’re making money” isn’t a proper defense. If you cancel a project that could have made a lot of money, then you’ve made a bad decision, even if you’re still in the green at the end of the year. Being a good leader means getting the most out of the assets available to you, not just avoiding red ink.



From The Archives:
 

86 thoughts on “Jedi Fallen Order Part 25: Pitch Meeting

  1. MerryWeathers says:

    I know the joke is that Hollywood producers are amoral and artistically bankrupt, but can you imagine Hollywood types refusing to greenlight Always Be My Maybe because it wasn’t going to make 2.5 billion dollars like Avengers Endgame?

    I mean, isn’t that basically what happened? I’m checking the film’s Wikipedia page and it’s mostly being distributed by Netflix, only being released in select theaters.

    Netflix has become the go-to for producing and distributing experimental, indie, or even just original movies while Hollywood has become dominated by big budget blockbusters and major franchises.

    1. ElementalAlchemist says:

      Yeah, Shamus is kind off-base with this one. Hollywood is absolutely lousy with tales of studio interference, just like EA management does. And you shouldn’t have to Google too hard to dig up info about various scripts/projects that got rejected because they weren’t the next blockbuster. All the major studios are trying to ape the Marvel franchise, but like EA they are absolutely terrible at it. Look at Warner Brothers’ DC universe, which is a goddamn shambles. Or Universal’s aborted Dark universe.

      The Marvel movies succeed largely on the basis of Kevin Feige (who would be the ur Hennig I guess). But even Disney is not above trying to squeeze more golden eggs out of the goose, to the detriment of the movies. Look at Age of Ultron, for example.

      1. Dreadjaws says:

        Except that you’re killing your own argument here. Hollywood has trouble with studio interference, but they don’t relegate it to canning movies because they don’t think will be moneymakers. Big tentpole blockbusters have as much chance to being canned or messed with as experimental titles or biopics.

        Shamus is not saying that there isn’t studio interference in Hollywood, he’s merely saying that they won’t refuse to make a movie just because it won’t be a blockbuster.

        1. Shamus says:

          Right.

          Although I did muddle my point by using Always be my Maybe as the example, since that was a Netflix Original.

          Better examples would have been stuff like: Game Night, Green Book, Juno, Moon, The Upside, Molly’s Game. Some of those were amazing, some weren’t, and others I haven’t seen. But they were all mid-budget titles with mid-budget asperations.

          1. Ander says:

            Raise a glass for Fox Searchlight

          2. RamblePak64 says:

            I think what others have commented on below is that, in regards to those mid-budget titles with mid-budget aspirations, the audience is not turned off by the fact that these films have far less spectacle than The Avengers. A romantic comedy is able to get away with a low-budget because it doesn’t often have many special effects you need to worry about. It can be cheaply made, tickets sold for the same premium price as Avengers, and turn a profit easily. Blu-ray or digital sales? Same price regardless of film budget. The same goes for horror, which, oddly enough, has a tendency to be made on smaller budgets than bigger films.

            Project Rag-Tag can be argued to be a “more niche product”, and yet is going to cost as much as any other AAA blockbuster. Heck, it’s possible EA is spending more on Project Rag-Tag than they are for FIFA. Player expectations are also different. If you’re selling a clearly lower-budget game, they expect to pay less money to play it.

            The marketing segmentation operates a bit differently for video games as a result. Nonetheless, project Rag-Tag was in development after Last of Us had released and the industry had proven, once again, that there’s a market for single-player only story-driven games.

            This means the core of your argument is still the same. Anthem only got the go-ahead because the model was intended to ape Destiny, a live-service title with microtransactions that those executives were no doubt certain could become money machines like FIFA.

            My only faith is that there’s been enough shake up at EA (though not enough) that someone got it in their head to see what Respawn is doing right and not shutting Respawn down after Titanfall 2 failed to meet launch window expectations.

            As someone mentioned below regarding Ubisoft, who knows about them as well. Their letter regarding the failures of Ghost Recon put the blame on gamers being “unprepared for gameplay innovation” or some garbage, rather than accepting they’ve gone too far trying to turn every game into the same model. There’s some faith things may change, particularly now that they’ve vowed to chase fewer large AAA scale games per year, but I imagine they’re just going to shift gears and chase other trends (that are likely on their way out or too late to be made a guaranteed profit off of).

            1. Thomas says:

              EA only bought Respawn one year after Titanfall 2 was released. Both Titanfall games were published by EA through their independent developer program.

            2. Chad+Miller says:

              My only faith is that there’s been enough shake up at EA (though not enough) that someone got it in their head to see what Respawn is doing right and not shutting Respawn down after Titanfall 2 failed to meet launch window expectations.

              They’ve announced that the next Dragon Age will be single player, ignoring all this “live services” stuff and apparently cited this game’s success vs. Anthem’s failure as the reason why.

        2. GloatingSwine says:

          It’s because of that word you used. Tentpole.

          Hollywood producers understand that the function of tentpole movies is to hold up the rest of the tent. To provide the studio with fat profits it can then turn around and use to fund other projects with which to acquire prestige and awards.

          AAA videogame producers want every game to be a tentpole and not to have any tent.

          1. Rho says:

            There’s also the concepts of profit vs. profitability, and risk management which play into this. Huge tentpole movies throw off lots of profits, but they usually cost huge piles of money to make and may require long development cycles. Smaller films make less money, but often on even smaller budgets, proportionally.

            Doing both kinds of movies therefore has several advantages just from a cold business calculation. You make more profits in total, you become more profitable in relative terms, you have income during months when blockbusters aren’t playing, and you’re taking in less risk if one tentpole wins up looking a little short this season.

      2. MerryWeathers says:

        But even Disney is not above trying to squeeze more golden eggs out of the goose, to the detriment of the movies. Look at Age of Ultron, for example.

        That’s actually kind of why I’m worried about Spider-Man: No Way Home, which is going to focus on the fallout of the ending of Far From Home on top of (if the leaks are right which they always are) a multiversal adventure where Peter meets and teams up with the Spider-Men from the previous film series against the Sinister Six with appearances from Daredevil and Dr. Strange.
        It’s like they jammed in what was supposed to be for Spider-Man 4 into this movie which is making it bite off more than it could probably chew.

        The only directors in the MCU that were capable of doing the ambitious movies that did and juggled a lot of things were the Russo Brothers and they’re not directing this movie.

        1. BlueHorus says:

          Wait!
          Third Spider-Man movie in a franchise…
          Terrible-sounding idea…
          Sounds overstuffed…

          …Someone call Sam Raimi to direct it! Maybe Tobey Macguire can dance for us again!

          Still, it’s only rumors so far. And that sounds VERY close to the plot of Into The Spider-Verse, so yeah, that particular rumor might need to be taken with pinch of salt…

          1. Boobah says:

            I take it you’ve missed the rumors floating around explicitly about a live action Into the Spider-Verse then?

            They’ve been playing with rumors of multiverse mischief since at least Far From Home with Mysterio’s ‘origin,’ more recently with recast!Pietro Maximoff in WandaVision, and of course the upcoming Dr. Strange movie has ‘Multiverse’ in the title.

            1. MerryWeathers says:

              The multiverse had been introduced to the MCU since Dr. Strange (or if you want to get technical about it, Ant-Man, because of the Quantum Realm) but only recently has it been delving into the alternate universes aspect.

              What strengthens the rumor is that it has already been confirmed that some actors from the previous film series are going to reprise their roles (Jamie Foxx and Alfred Molina), Benedict Cumberbatch has been reported to be in the movie as Peter’s mentor figure for that film, and it’s been said that WandaVision, Loki, and No Way Home are all going to tie-in to said Dr. Strange movie with multiverse in the title.

        2. Aitrus says:

          If I had to guess, they’re probably not going to deal with the fallout from Far From Home at all. It will just be treated as the new status quo, with little consequence to what actually happens in the plot. I think they just wanted to end on a surprise the same way the first film did with Aunt May finding out Peter was Spiderman (which also didn’t matter plot-wise).

      3. Rho says:

        Ultron wasn’t a great movie, however, it was a project legitimately about more than a cash grab. The film’s problems come down to rushed pacing than lazy corporate mandates. Also, note that many of the beloved character plotlines that went all the way through Endgame more or less started in Ultron.

        1. IIRC Ultron had problems with a severe infection of “trying to cram too much stuff into one movie”, which every DC Universe movie I’ve seen apart from the two Wonder Womans also suffers from, to a much more severe degree.

          If they’d made Ultron into two movies like Thanos, it might have been MUCH better. Have movie 1 be Avengers vs. Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, while Ultron is doing Mysterious Background Stuff. At the end, they finally defeat the twins, who decide to turn on Ultron. Then Movie 2 is all about creating the Vision and fighting Ultron and his doomsday plans.

        2. Grimwear says:

          My biggest gripe with Ultron and probably the reason why I’ve seen it the least of all Marvel films (tied with Captain Marvel) is that they clearly knew where they wanted to go with Civil War. So there’s constant build up and clashing between Captain America and Iron Man. Tony pushing boundaries with no thought for the consequences, making problems worse, Steve telling Tony to stop. But then the end of the movie has them work together and end all buddy buddy. They threw away all that work so that when Civil War comes around they need to shoe horn in “irreconcilable differences” to get them to fight. No idiots, you end Ultron with them mad at each other so that they’re still upset at the start of Civil War. Not buddy buddy about face in the sequel.

    2. Amazon makes some good stuff, too, in their Amazon Originals movies and series.

  2. Jared+Smith says:

    Serious question, wrt Amy Hennig and having read that entire article you reference: do you think she needed the setup of Naughty Dog to do her best? In other words, do you think that instead of just either impeding or simply getting out of the way management could have a positive effect by dealing with the mundanities so the creative people can focus on being creative?

    I think about Joel Splosky’s description of the development abstraction layer, and wonder if that’s a part of what happened to her at EA. Reading that article about Ragtag it sounded like she got caught up in a lot of management detail that the suits would have properly shielded her from at a healthier company.

    Also, I love how you recycled tropes from Screen Rant to make fun of recycled tropes from Star Wars in Fallen Order. Nth level meta humor. I see what you did there.

    1. Thomas says:

      From the description I’m not convinced Ragtag would have worked, Naughty Dog has had years of functioning at a top class level and it’s difficult to a studio to get out of the starting gates like that.

      But I’m also convinced EA will never get anything new off the ground if they don’t give their studios more space. EA’s only successful new IPs of recent times have come from Respawn which took half their staff from Infinity Ward and negotiated a bunch of clauses guaranteeing independence from EA.

      It’s hard to name an EA studio which is getting better (except for Respawn). Whereas Sony had the Killzone: Shadowfall developers making Horizon: Zero Dawn this generation, Insomniac making Spiderman and Sucker Punch making Ghosts of Tsushima, all arguable some of their studios’ best work ever.

      1. Geebs says:

        Going out of my way to give EA far too much credit, but: maybe they’re just too nice to their staff to pull off a Naughty Dog game? EA is supposed to be a relatively decent place to work, by game dev standards*, whereas Naughty Dog is, judging by the stories I’ve seen online and their completely insane staff turnover, terrible. Maybe Amy Hennig’s ambitions were going to mean the entire studio would have to crunch for two years and EA just said “no?”.

        *I’ve heard from a few places that they are a lot more staff-friendly since EA spouse. Of course, I may have been misinformed.

    2. Dreadjaws says:

      do you think that instead of just either impeding or simply getting out of the way management could have a positive effect by dealing with the mundanities so the creative people can focus on being creative?

      While it’s true that generally speaking limits breed creativity, it’s clear that in this case the EA management wanted nothing to do with creativity, They wanted tried and true, and they would have done the same to Hennig or anyone else in charge.

  3. MerryWeathers says:

    But now SWJFO is a hit. Maybe this means that EA will back off and give the team at Respawn entertainment the freedom to tell their own stories instead of creating mixtapes of Star Wars tropes.

    I have the exact opposite feeling. Now that Jedi Fallen Order was a success, EA will be more interested in the series’ future and possibly start interfering with the sequel by making Respawn put in stuff they think will make it sell even more millions.

    Fallen Order proved itself as a reliable stream of revenue for EA so their grip on it will probably be tighter and they’ll be more averse to any potential risk that could copromise that reliability.

    1. Shamus says:

      Ugh. I hate that you’re right. I mean, EA is famous for ruining things that are (believed to be) good and successful. Success increases the odds of the studio being EA’ed.

      1. Rho says:

        Can you comment on today’s story regarding Dragon Age 4. Evidently Bioware managed to convince EA to let be single player instead of a “GaaS” title. This is probably a good thing although it’s worrisome that is treated as a huge concession by corporate.

        1. Liessa says:

          The weird thing is that according to previous reports, DA4 had already been retooled away from a singleplayer game into a GaaS. So what are they going to do now – go back to the previous idea, throwing out all the work done since then? Or try to somehow incorporate the GaaS elements without multiplayer? Whatever the final decision, I have limitless faith in EA’s ability to completely screw it up.

          1. Joe Informatico says:

            DA and Mass Effect are such popular franchises set in massive settings chock full of lore, I don’t understand why they have to rise and fall based on the performance of a single AAA masthead title every 5ish years. Why not make a bunch of games in different genres? Have one team make a GaS MMO, have another make a classic single-player RPG, then have teams make a double-A space combat sim for ME and a side-scrolling beat-’em-up for DA that sell for $20-30 on all the digital storefronts. Make a bunch of mobile games, I don’t know, elcor match-3 and some kind of Grey Warden/Legion of the Dead tower defence game.

            The point is film and TV studios like Disney and Warner Brothers don’t just bet their mass media properties on one horse anymore. They make feature films, live-action television shows, animated series, web shorts, comics, novels, licensed games of all genres (something the Star Wars franchise has been doing since the 80s). Maybe one segment does really well (the MCU, the DCAU, the Mandalorian, the CW DC shows, Wandavision) and another one doesn’t (the Marvel Netflix shows, Marvel animated series, Inhumans, the DCEU, Rise of Skywalker) but the point is you haven’t bet the farm on a single big gamble.

            Now, two of the most popular video game franchises of the late 00s/early 10s are in danger of being cancelled for a good long time if their next AAA installments underperform, and they’ve already run into development problems. I’m not saying I’m a total fan of this IP-driven, everything has to be from an established property era of artistic endeavour we’re in. But it’s not like EA is launching a bunch of interesting new IP either, so why not at least milk the ones they have more efficiently?

        2. fungus says:

          Is that what the story is?

          It seemed to me that the success of JFO had convinced EA that DA4 should pivot towards single player game, while BioWare had quite a few peopleb that wanted it to either be multiplayer or at least have substantial multiplayer component.
          BioWare doesn’t seem to be a very healthy studio.

    2. BlueHorus says:

      “So, your pitch for the Fallen Order sequel sounds okay, but we have some notes…
      Maybe there could be a mandatory multiplayer mode? How about a collectable trading-card minigame to increase player interactions?
      You don’t appear to have any DLC plans. What about that crucial plot section there, you think we can cut that out and sell it seperately?”

      1. Grimwear says:

        Throw Pazaak into everything. Heck pull a Witcher and make your own stand alone Pazaak game.

        1. PhoenixUltima says:

          I’d play it.

  4. Mephane says:

    EDIT – Just before publication: Like I said at the top of the article, Disney ended their exclusivity deal and is allowing other publishers / studios to make Star Wards games. That’s far better than just hoping the EA stops being a creative impediment to their studios. It’s actually better than I could have hoped for six months ago, when I wrote the above paragraph.

    Aaaaaaaand the first upcoming Star Wars game to be announced in the wake of this is being made by… Ubisoft. Even fucking EA had the decency to not cram their usual lootboxes into Jedi Fallen Order, whereas with Ubisoft you can bet that this will be a full-price title designed around a P2W cash shop worthy of any shitty mobile game.

    1. galacticplumber says:

      They had no such decency. They got caught out on the most legendarily poorly received lootbox controversy of them all, and decided they couldn’t afford not to back off on the next attempt.

      1. Richard says:

        EA pushed so hard that their lootbox games were outright banned in several countries.
        That’s what it took to make them back off.

        Ok, Belgium isn’t the biggest market, but the EU absolutely is.

  5. Joshua says:

    Hey, that identical-looking writer and producer could be female as well:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PMNFaAUs2mo

    Those kinds of pictures of the clueless executives always tends to offend my business sense. I’ve worked with a number of CEOs, Presidents, CFOs, and Controllers*, and almost all of them were energetic and VERY clued in to their markets and could give as detailed speeches on the natures of their products/services as any Marketing head, so seeing a bunch of befuddled old guys ONLY asking “where’s the big profits” tends to bring out my “We need some ‘right-sizing’ immediately” urges.

    *Well, I’ve got one personal client who tends to be lazy and clueless, and I’m trying to figure out how to extricate myself from him at the moment.

  6. John says:

    I have to ask. Is it possible, even theoretically, for EA to do something right? Let’s imagine that EA buys Beloved Studio A. If Beloved Studio A makes a great game post-acquisition, then all the credit accrues to Beloved Studio A. If the game is less than great, however, all the blame accrues to EA. EA either ruined everything by micromanaging things too much or else ruined everything by not micromanaging things enough. It could not possibly be true that the developers at Beloved Studio A are mortal and thus sometimes fallible, but if it is then that would somehow be EA’s fault too.

    I do not say this to defend EA. EA is very often dumb and bad, and in situations where we have specific information about their dumbness and badness–the Henning situation, for example–we should not hesitate to call them on it. But the knee-jerk, reflexive “evidence, shmevidence, it’s obviously all EA’s fault” that the internet is forever throwing at me grows tiresome.

    1. galacticplumber says:

      The evidence for continued EA hatred on all failed projects comes from a track record. Namely a track record of the dead, mutilated, and failed. No other studio has quite that level of being connected to fuckups on a wide scale. No not even that one you’re thinking of right now. Let’s make a statistical argument that some of those fuckups weren’t the direct fault of EA. Fine. Maybe, some of them.

      Lets then remember when that many dead bodies are left behind an animal in the wild people are reasonably justified in assuming things.

      1. Gethsemani says:

        Except EA isn’t an animal and the game development business is absolutely littered with the broken shells of companies that failed. It is worth noting that EA’s hatchet days were in the late-00’s and up to the mid-10’s (with a significant drop off after 2015), which is what one might expect both from the shockwaves of the recession and the increasing budgets and personnel requirements to develop AAA games, which is all EA cares about after their failed forays into mobile in the early -10’s. EA has a hatchetman reputation, but game studios close all the time and a studio that used to make good games but can only put out tripe is living on borrowed time no matter which publisher they are under and would close much faster if they lack a dedicated publisher.

        EA is an easy target, but for the last few years it is really hard to find much fault with their business acumen. They are axing projects that don’t materialize, supporting devs that struggle to reach old highs (BioWare and DICE in particular) and are making massive net profit gains year on year.

        1. Thomas says:

          EA rebooted Dragon Age 4 in 2017 after two years of development to make it a multiplayer live service game (and driving away the lead writer in the process). And then in 2021 they’ve just rebooted it again to get rid of the live service elements and turn it into a single player game. That’s textbook mismanagement. Anyone should have known a live service Dragon Age RPG was an awful idea from the start.

    2. Xeorm says:

      You definitely could see EA being gifted with some good blame for once, if they did things right. Like imagine that Beloved Studio A releases a game before EA that’s good, and then releases a much larger game that is also good post EA. I’d in this case say that the studio did well, but the larger funding via EA and all their assets contributed to helping that studio as well. And if EA was consistently doing something like that, you’d see people praising EA. Or another publisher that works similarly.

      It’s pretty consistent though that we’re seeing the opposite. Where EA comes in, buys a studio, and things go downhill from there. EA as a company really doesn’t leverage their products well at all, barring FIFA. If not for that one series EA would have crashed a long, long time ago. Even with such a money making enterprise on board they’re not doing well at all, which is a shame.

      1. Nimrandir says:

        In fairness, EA experienced a boost to its image from 2007 until 2010 or so. They established new IP with Mirror’s Edge and Dead Space. They rescued Brutal Legend from oblivion at the hands of Activision. They bought beloved studio BioWare, which released two well-received games after the acquisition. I remember feeling weird that I bought a game a year with an EA label on it for a while, after having ignored the company for well over a decade.

        Granted, the FIFA Ultimate Team train left the station during this time, too, and those of us at Twenty Sided aren’t as huge on Mass Effect 2 as the general public. However, there was a stretch (however brief) when we didn’t automatically recoil to know EA was involved in a project.

        Maybe we can use this as a measure of how quickly a publisher can squander goodwill?

    3. Thomas says:

      I don’t think EA could do much to win praise in the eyes of the internet, but also, as a born contrarian, I’m still finding it hard to name many things they’ve done right.

      The Old Republic is trucking along, and FIFA is pretty decent and satisfies the people it’s trying to serve (mostly) and they haven’t ruined Respawn (although I don’t think they have much choice, Zampella knew what he was asking for). That’s about it.

      EDIT: I also think they made sensible decisions about Anthem, including canning it now. But they bare some responsibility for having a studio that can get so lost.

    4. Shamus says:

      This feels a bit weird to me. Sort of like, “How come EA never gets credit when they DON’T beat old ladies?” Their failings are really destructive and frustrating. The SimCity debacle, the closing of beloved Maxis, turning Dungeon Keeper into an grasping mobile title so empty that it’s not even a game anymore. The grotesque lootboxes of Battlefront II. The EA Spouse story. the list goes on. This isn’t just “Boo hoo EA released a game that I don’t like!” This is more like, “EA did something clumsy and tone deaf and it destroyed something beloved for no benefit to themselves.”

      But I can see where you’re coming from. When everyone takes the same position, it feels less like a reasoned opinion and more like groupthink and confirmation bias.

      But the stories of EA malfeasance are so common that I think the EA hate is pretty reasonable. This is made worse by the fact that so many of their screwups seem obvious and easy to avoid.

      We can entertain the notion that maybe the leadership is sometimes making wise decisions where they save studios, and help wayward projects turn things around with their wisdom and experience. And we can imagine that we don’t hear those good stories because they don’t make good headlines. But this line of thinking is unsupported by what we can observe. It would also raise the interesting question of, “If EA can save project Z, how did they manage to blunder so hard all the other times? Does the CEO have some sort of Jekyll-and-Hyde problem going on?”

      But let me say something nice anyway:

      1) The EA Spouse problem is – if not solved – greatly improved. It’s been years since we heard a story about perma-crunch, and if this was still a widespread problem then we’d have heard about it by now.

      2) I don’t hold EA fully accountable for the problems with the Mass Effect series. The problems with the last 2 games have been the result of horrendous decisions on the part of the developers. This created the sort of “Damned if they do, damned if they don’t” situations that you alluded to in your post. If EA stepped in when those projects encountered problems, then we’d hate them for “ruining the game” and we’d blame every problem on their “meddling”. But since they left the studio alone, I’m giving them crap for not stepping in. I still maintain that this is a problem that could have handled properly if the leadership had a better understanding of their products, but I’ll admit they were in a tough spot.

      3) Origin is VASTLY improved since its release in the late aughts. It’s not as good as Steam or GoG, but it’s better than all the others like Epic Games Store, UPlay, Microsoft’s pile of broken technology they call a storefront, and Bethesda’s pathetic webpage-pretending-to-be-software.

      4) They do sometimes put out genuinely good games!

      5) Despite all the hate we give them for how they handle their sports franchises, I don’t hear the actual fans of those games complain very often. (Although I don’t hang around with many Madden and FIFA fans, so maybe I’m missing it.)

      Still, if you think it’s tiresome hearing about how terrible EA is, just imagine how tiresome is is for us when they ruin something we love, often for no reason beyond clueless incompetence.

      1. MerryWeathers says:

        It’s been years since we heard a story about perma-crunch, and if this was still a widespread problem then we’d have heard about it by now.

        Apparently the more “ambitious” game studios like Bioware and DICE suffer from crunch whereas the ones who just develop the sports games or support studios don’t suffer it that much if at all.

        Despite all the hate we give them for how they handle their sports franchises, I don’t hear the actual fans of those games complain very often. (Although I don’t hang around with many Madden and FIFA fans, so maybe I’m missing it.)

        I don’t play them too but from what I do hear, they get worse with each yearly release.

        1. Asdasd says:

          Oddly enough, it’s not EA but industry darlings Naughty Dog who are openly recognised to be the worst abusers of crunch in the industry. Why nobody even tries to put their feet to the fire is beyond me.

          Even self-appointed developer’s champion Jason Schreier couldn’t help but couch his report into their dysfunctional workplace culture in softball, ‘two sides’ terms:

          “Many who have worked at Naughty Dog over the years describe it as a duality – as a place that can be simultaneously the best and the worst workplace in the world. Working at Naughty Dog means designing beloved, critically acclaimed games alongside artists and engineers who are considered some of the greatest in their fields. But for many of those same people, it also means working upwards of 12-hour days and even weekends when the studio is in crunch mode, sacrificing their health, relationships, and personal lives at the altar of the game.”

          1. eldomtom2 says:

            Because Schreier is a biased hack, and while he’s probably correctly summarizing the views of at least some of Naughty Dog’s employees, he would not say such things about other developers.

            1. Michael Miller says:

              Wow, that is a swing and a miss. His twitter is full of stories of mismanagement in various games companies, as is his book. One of the very few game reporters that actually holds companies accountable rather than acting as the advertising arm. But what? Was he was mean to a game developer you like by accurately reporting on their sweatshop conditions? Clearly he’s a biased hack!

              1. Boobah says:

                I took eldomtom2 to mean that he wouldn’t have bothered with leading (or including) the positives if it weren’t Naughty Dog he was talking about, that Schrier was biased in their favor.

                1. eldomtom2 says:

                  Late, but that was my point.

      2. John says:

        Shamus, I’m not arguing that you or anyone else should like EA. Heck, I don’t like EA. If they’re terrible, say they’re terrible. You will not hurt my feelings if you do. Disliking, even hating, EA is fine and dandy. EA’s been publishing video games for nearly as long as video games have existed. It’s had a lot of time and done a lot of things over the years to incur people’s ill-will. I’m not going to hold anyone’s emotional response to the company against them.

        The thing that gets to me about the omni-present and reflexive EA hate is that it prevents people from thinking critically. EA killed Studio A! Studio A is dead, yes, but did EA inflict the wounds that killed it or did EA just turn off the life support? Less metaphorically, did Studio A have internal problems of its own making? Can you be sure that things would have been better if EA hadn’t bought the studio? If you automatically blame EA and never go looking for evidence then, no matter how certain you feel, you’ll never really know. Your auto-blame would be at best speculation rather than fact and should under no circumstances be confused for or treated as fact.

        Perhaps the problem is that at this point “it’s EA’s fault” is a meme. It’s something that everyone “just knows” but that but no one–well, almost no one–ever really thinks deeply about. It drives me crazy. In any case, Shamus, thank you for the long and considered response. I honestly didn’t expect anything like that.

        1. Chris says:

          It reminds me of Shamus’s description of story collapse: if the author has given you reason to trust that they know what they’re doing, you’ll overlook some plot problems here and there. You trust the author to pull things together in the end. But if that author has been sloppy enough that you’ve already lost confidence in them, a tiny plot hole might be the breaking point that brings the whole narrative down. EA burned up all their goodwill and trust years ago, so it’s understandable that people will reflexively blame them when things go wrong. It’s a heuristic that has worked well in the past.
          It’s not impossible for EA to salvage its reputation, but given its history we’ll need to see sustained good behavior over several years. Trust is very hard to earn back after you’ve pissed it away.

          1. galacticplumber says:

            It’s even older as a concept than that. When the business is hot you can do no wrong, and when the business is cold you can do no right.

            The EA business is cold because they’ve spent decades pissing people off. Thus they can do no right, and the best praise they can expect is somehow managing not to fuck something up.

            You’d need a good decade or so of good behavior to shake off the level of stigma they built. That’s a minimum estimation by the way.

        2. Syal says:

          Studio A is dead, yes, but did EA inflict the wounds that killed it or did EA just turn off the life support?

          It doesn’t actually matter; EA bought the studio, and then the studio collapsed. At best, they’re incompetent for buying a failing studio without having a plan to save it.

          1. Philadelphus says:

            Or perhaps a better measure to look at might be, “what percentage of studios that EA has bought have died, compared to other similar publishers?” If the industry average is (just throwing out numbers, I’ve no idea) 30% of studios fail, but 80% of studios EA’s bought fail, then it might be reasonable to assume that EA is somehow uniquely bad at what they’re doing. (Whereas if *all* the numbers are more like 50% then it might be game development is just hard and inherently risky over decades, or that everyone is muddling around not really knowing what they’re doing.) Without knowing the exact numbers, it more difficult to say.

      3. Leviathan902 says:

        Regarding #5:

        They absolutely do complain about those sports games. Like all the time. Every one of them is the worst one ever. They just buy them anyway because there aren’t any other really good options to get the current team’s roster, so *SHRUG*

        1. Thomas says:

          That might be the case on the internet but I know a lot of people who play FIFA casually and are very happy with it (one or two years aside). I’ve heard Madden might be a bit worse.

      4. CloverMan-88 says:

        Actually sport games fans hate EA with a passion. Second year in a row there were NO changes in FIFA (other than roster updates) and EA no longer even hides it. And it still costs 60$, or even 70 by now.

    5. Moridin says:

      Show us an example. When was the last time a franchise got BETTER after EA bought the studio making it?

    6. Fizban says:

      The problem is that after doing so much wrong, doing something right doesn’t mean you get praise, and that’s what people asking this question usually really mean (particularly in other contexts).

      Finally doing something right after countless failures tends to get exactly the reaction is deserves: “Wow, you finally managed to not screw something up, now keep doing that for a while and maybe we’ll consider forgiving you.” Only literal children who are first learning how to function as human beings deserve uncritical and unconditional praise, as part of their initial setup.

      And since as a society, we generally don’t give people a free pass just because their parents failed raising them, even that excuse for an individual is considered no excuse. For a “company” that can replace its component people, there is no possible excuse. Other than recognizing that the “company” is a false construct that exists to shield those in control from their own consequences, without actually ceding any power.

      Edit: and ninja’d by like a foot of parchment. Guess I should have refreshed first.

      1. John says:

        Praise is not the issue. I don’t want or expect anyone to praise EA. The question I’m asking is “If EA failed to screw up for once, would gamers admit it?” It looks like the answer is largely no.

        1. Fizban says:

          I don’t see anyone refusing to admit it- for that, you need to give a clear and objectively provable example where disagreement can only constitute a refusal to admit reality. I mostly see people agreeing that, while it is possible EA doesn’t screw everything up, the point is that they won’t get any goodwill until they’ve dug themselves out of the hole. Morridin demands an example, Shamus gave a couple examples, though some others doubt or suggest there may be more than he took into account, but mostly people are saying that on the balance, any good is outweighed by the bad, or that they are skeptical of such examples.

          You say that the answer is largely no, but the question is flawed to begin with. It is your interpretation that these gamers would not admit it, but what sort of response would you except as “admitting” it?

          The problem is in the question itself, and why it is asked.

          By example, I have a friend at work (with opposed political beliefs), who uses this same line all the time. It doesn’t change the fact that I’m willing to listen to every example of a Good or Bad thing and why they think it is so. It’s a form of logical fallacy, claiming that “no one” will “admit” that the negatively viewed actor has done something positive, while ignoring the fact that the questioner has either made no specific claim to be debated or verified, or that such statements are in fact being met with due consideration. In the end, it seems obvious what the actual problem and desire is.

          No amount of engagement actually makes the feeling that “no one will admit X did a good thing” go away, because it’s not a logical argument, and even if the person you’re arguing with changes their tune completely, it will have no effect on the perceived “everyone”. It’s an emotional response to the existence of another group having a negative opinion, which can only be appeased with praise and approval from that group as a whole, not any single arguer. If the addressee attempts to argue, they are doomed to failure, because the person asking the question cannot be swayed by a logical argument (the question being an emotional response to the fact of a group of people disagreeing with them), and has in fact already made up their mind based on whatever research they may or may not have done. The only way the addressee can succeed, is by somehow rendering such a massive amount ofevidence and/or persuasion that they flip the questioner into believing that the group which upsets them, actually does have a good point, by presenting evidence or logical paths that actually convince the questioner it was themselves who was not admitting reality.

          Asking if people will positively (or negatively) consider a nebulous undefined potential action in a light opposite of how they already view the actor, is no question. It can only be answered nebulously, with one of two answers. Either yes, the respondent says they would acknowledge it, because of course they’re a reasonable person who accepts new evidence. Or yes, but the respondent clarifies that it would take much more than one undefined action to make them actually change their overall opinion. No person actually considers themselves unreasonable- even a “No,” is actually just a statement that they do not believe there can possibly be any action that would change their opinion, not that they inherently believe themselves incapable of admitting reality.

          The question, “If EA failed to screw up for once, would gamers admit it?”, is basically the summary of every moral/political/whatever argument. The true question is, “Why don’t these people agree with me, can they not see reality?” If there are two groups with differing beliefs, a given person can always be unhappy that the other group appears to them to be unreasonable.

          In short, the only solution, is total conversion. As a nebulous and undefined plea that the other side wake up and admit the obvious, the only way the asker can be be made happy, is for their beliefs to suddenly align with the other group. Either because the other group all suddenly changes their mind, or because the asker is made to change theirs.

          So, if people responding that “Yes, they do accept reality,” or “Yes, but it will take more to change their opinion,” are not good enough answers. . . well, there you go.

          1. John says:

            I really don’t know what to make of this. I’ve been thinking for a while now about how best to respond, and I’ve come to the conclusion that there probably is no good response. I don’t think that you and I are even having the same conversation. But if you’re at all interested in my actual motives and intentions rather than the ones you’ve assumed on my behalf, I described them as best I could in my response to Shamus and that will have to suffice.

            1. galacticplumber says:

              Yes, he did make a few assumptions about your motives, and intentions. He even outlined not just them, but the explicit reasons he made them. This is by no means unfair game when this entire conversation started with you making wide ranging assumptions about entire groups of people.

              Either making predictions about people’s behavior and using it as one of the core points of your argument is kosher, or it isn’t.

              1. Shamus says:

                (Reply to thread, not really to galacticplumber.)

                Wow. This dogpile on John is going on for a long time. Personally, if I hadn’t been following EA for then last 15 years then I’d probably feel the same way John does: Too many people all think the same thing. Maybe that’s because they’re right and I don’t have the full context, or maybe this is the result of groupthink run amok. (The latter is hardly a rare thing!)

                I can’t speak for John, but if I were in John’s position, I wouldn’t find this thread very persuasive. What I would find persuasive is examples of EA shenanigans that form a pattern of behavior. Now, maybe it’s really annoying trying to research a long essay with links just for a comment on a blog post, so I understand why that hasn’t really happened. On the other hand, lots of hostility would just convince me that I’m right and everyone else is too entrenched in their beliefs to question them.

                I also get why emotions run high here. Westwood, Bullfrog, Origin Systems, Mythic, DreamWorks Interactive, Maxis, Visceral, Pandemic Studios. Those studios made some beloved titles, and they’re gone now. Some of those outfits were on the brink of insolvency when they sold themselves to EA. But others were fine, they just wanted to be a part of a publisher to protect them from being sunk by a single flop. This was really common in the late 90s and early aughts, and was the result of rising expenses making games riskier to produce.

                In either case, these studios joined EA looking for help and protection, and instead EA stripped the IP, closed the studio, and fired the creative people who made those IPs so beloved. Then EA either tossed the IP in a drawer and forgot about it, or turned it into some sort of horrendous zombified version of its former self.

                And that’s not even accounting for studios like PopCap, BioWare, and the Sims, which still exist but have experienced a massive drop in quality.

                In all those cases, EA destroyed popular games and from the outside we can’t even see how the company benefitted from this destruction.

                It’s hard to not get pissed about that. So when you see someone arguing that maybe EA isn’t so bad, it’s easy to get angry at the suggestion after decades of endless and needless destruction.

                I’m just saying: Go easy on the dogpile and please try to keep it friendly. This is a huge topic, filled with endless complexity, and it takes time to lay it all out to someone with a different perspective.

                Also, a little pushback on commonly-held ideas is generally a healthy thing.

                It’s all good.

    7. GoStu says:

      I’m trying to imagine the sort of story that could both:

      A) make EA look good in their role as owner/publisher, that can’t be attributed to the studio itself, and
      B) would be reported on in Games Jurnalsim [sic].

      “Publisher enforces deadline on Studio, limiting Feature Creep and managing budget” is not gonna pass test (B). Meanwhile, “adding multiplayer to Dragon Age: Subtitle at behest of publisher really improved game” would probably not happen get attributed to the developer.

      All I can think of is some Dev Diary where a developer admits that some resource loaned by the publisher let them do Some Extra Thing. Or maybe “yeah, they had money to let us finish X project”.

      1. galacticplumber says:

        I think it’s a lot simpler than that. We have documentation of a good three years or so of behavior from EA from 2007-10 that really helped their image before they squandered it again. Just have a few years of just having uncontroversial good/at least liked releases.

  7. Steve C says:

    Not sure if this counts as a typo… You dropped a few ™s there. I noticed due to my text to speech program not announcing it properly. (Which always gives me a laugh.)

  8. Rho says:

    Shamus, congrats on the spot-on gag. I imagined this script in that gentleman’s voice the whole time.

  9. Ninety-Three says:

    But now SWJFO is a hit. Maybe this means that EA will back off and give the team at Respawn entertainment the freedom to tell their own stories instead of creating mixtapes of Star Wars tropes.

    Or maybe EA learns the lesson that mixtapes are super popular and they need to keep doing that. Hell, that’s probably not even wrong, look at the general trend of Star Wars tie-ins for the last, I dunno, three decades.

    1. Thomas says:

      It would be hard to be more of a mixtape than KOTOR and that was great.

  10. BlueHorus says:

    Loved the Pitch meeting parody but I think you got a bit wrong – Producer Guy would LOVE how safe and derivative the plot of Fallen Order is.
    And any complaints he had could be dealt with by Writer Guy saying ‘But you like money’!

    Also:

    Producer Guy: So, how are we going to schedule the design this thing?

    Writer Guy: Oh, I thought we might try crunch. You know, make the project deadlines a bit to short, but compensate by forcing the staff to work overtime for a couple of months?

    Producer Guy: Oh, giving people less time than they need to finish a project is TIGHT!

    Writer Guy: Yes sir, it is.

    1. Aitrus says:

      This is a very gud addition.

  11. Ander says:

    I tend to read “Where’s your Fifa billions?” as “Where’s your revenue stream?” It is possible that Fallen Order couldn’t point to a source of recurrent revenue, but it could point to Rise of Skywalker as a massive interest booster, regardless of how the movie would turn out.

  12. RamblePak64 says:

    The punchline to all of this is that I never cared about the Star Wars aspect of this game. In fact, I rolled my eyes during the 2019 E3 showcase, assuming this would be a lazy action game with a Star Wars paint job. It wasn’t until I heard about the gameplay that I decided to pick it up. The most important attribute of this game is something that’s invisible to the non-gaming executives at EA.

    This pretty much describes me. I was done with Star Wars wholesale until Fallen Order and Mandalorian. Even then, I didn’t care about hopping about the galaxy as an over-powered (or under-powered, as it turns out for a good chunk of the game) Jedi. I saw the game mechanics and thought “This? This is my jam”.

  13. The Rocketeer says:

    I liked Fallen Order, it was fun.

    1. Shamus says:

      This might have been an over-correction.

    1. Henson says:

      Guess someone at EA reads Shamus’s columns after all.

    2. Sleeping Dragon says:

      I wouldn’t be surprised if they tried to regain the old audience and DA4/ME4 were chock full of attempts to appeal to fans (it has Liara in it! Please love it!). Though even in that case it is progress from trying to break into an oversaturated market with a game that is reliant on endgame content while holding the development of that content dependent on the game’s continuous success and having it made by a studio whose core competence lies elsewhere.

    3. Dalisclock says:

      I think Anthem Next being canceled was less of an “if” then a “when” at this point. I mean, they could just have easily decided to throw more wasted time and money at it for another year or so before deciding it was a lost cause.

      1. Yeah I was pretty sure when they announced “we’re rebuilding this game” that it was going to die at some point. I mean, look at how crap they are at releasing new content for SWTOR and that game is actually SUCCESSFUL (in the sense that it’s still making money). Anthem didn’t have nearly the monetization that SWTOR did and there was just no way that a money-making community was still going to be around by the time they’d actually relaunched Anthem into a better game.

  14. Amstrad says:

    Absent a semi-inappropriate line from the producer about something being tight; that was a good script for a pitch-meeting sketch.

  15. raifield says:

    I’ll be honest: I’ll throw massive sums at whatever company brings us Star Wars: Rebellion II. I love that game, jank and all. Just…make the Disney arc an optional DLC.

  16. John says:

    no but see a yuuzhan vong game would be SICK

    Vong bodymods would both make varied regular mooks and weird units simple to justify. Oh, this enemy’s head is embedded with a yorik coral Mohawk? That’s his preferred style, don’t hate. That enemy had a pair of crab claws? She swapped out her hands so she could slice off yours.

    They’ve got thud bugs and razor bugs for ranged combat, amphistaffs for CQC, crab armor for personal protection (all 3 of which are lightsaber-resistant, aka great for video game lightsaber combat) Spiderman-style symbionts serving as second skins for both pressurization (for the spacewalking or underwater level) or disguise (for a big reveal), ships engines that function as propulsion, absorptive shielding, force fields, shield-sapping space mines, hyperspace interdiction and (if you’re feeling spicy) going full Zeon and dropping satellites from orbit. The Vong are even cut off from the Force, which would be a super easy excuse for why you can’t just grab them and toss them off cliffs Force-Unleashed-style.

    That’s not even getting into the actual plot of the war. A religious crusade hinging on the upper echelon introducing a wholesale fictional war deity to rile the people up so they’ll support and justify their desire for conquest? A really shady bird woman “Jedi” who was held and tortured by the Vong for decades? “The Sword of the Jedi”? The Solo kids? That’s gold..

    Can you imagine the pop-off when Supreme Overlord Shimmra ISNT the final boss, and Familiar Onimi blocks your path?

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