The past few console generations have seen BioWare become one of the most trusted names in the industry, thanks to their impeccable track record of turning out one great game after another, from Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic on up though Mass Effect. BioWare has redrawn the boundaries of the Western-developed RPG in an effort to attract ever more fans, often to great success.
But success can be a double edged sword, and Hell hath no fury like a gamer scorned. BioWare's latest game, Dragon Age 2, was supposed to bring the developer's vision of an action-based fantasy RPG to the widest audience yet. Instead, it ended up alienating many of the fans who had made the earlier Dragon Age titles another link in BioWare's long chain of success -- and you'd better believe that Electronic Arts, Dragon Age 2's publisher, knows it.
"We're very proud of the game. We tried to innovate and do some different things with the combat system and some of the way we told story. For some fans it worked well. In fact, we brought a lot of new fans into the Dragon Age franchise."
"But to be honest, we lost some fans as well. They were not pleased with some of the innovations and things we'd done. We understand that and we're listening."
So says Frank Gibeau, EA Games Label President, in a refreshingly candid interview with Eurogamer. Gibeau seems serious about getting the series back on track, and who can blame him. BioWare's other big RPG series, Mass Effect, is a massive success for the publisher, and the third installment, which Game Rant got to see in action at E3 2011, is among the most anticipated of all upcoming games.
No doubt Gibeau would like to see Dragon Age enjoy as much popularity, and he'd like the game's fans to know that Electronic Arts is serious about soliciting their opinions.
"As we think about where we take the franchise next, we're going to take that into consideration and really engage them."
It's encouraging that EA is willing to honestly address some of the criticisms of Dragon Age 2 (read our review for specifics), particularly so soon after the game's release. Still, while the first step in solving a problem may be identifying it, one wonders how much creative involvement the publisher will have in future Dragon Age games, and whether BioWare's leadership shares Gibeau's point of view.
Between Mass Effect 3 and the ongoing, seemingly endless work on Star Wars: The Old Republic, BioWare has no shortage of projects in urgent need of attention. Whatever their plans for Dragon Age -- and it seems pretty clear that there will eventually be another game -- it could be some time indeed before those plans come to fruition.
Were you disappointed in Dragon Age 2? What could BioWare do to bring you back for Dragon Age 3?