What Does "BioWare" Even Mean Any More? It Doesn’t Mean Command & Conquer.

What Does "BioWare" Even Mean Any More? It Doesn’t Mean Command & Conquer.

In saying the next Command & Conquer game is coming from “BioWare”, it seems EA is hoping a little of gamer’s good will towards the RPG powerhouse will rub off on the game. Instead, unless Generals 2 is amazing, it’s probably going to backfire.

How? When people think “BioWare”, they think of the Canadian developer behind games like Mass Effect and the Baldur’s Gate series. A studio that takes great pride in its story-telling and how it can draw a player into a fictional world that feels as rich and immersive as the real one.

Since BioWare was bought by EA a few years back, though, that brand strength has been thinned a little. Not by bad games, necessarily (though Dragon Age II isn’t helping), but by mere fact the name has been diluted, as EA turned one internal studio after another into an offshoot of the BioWare “brand”.

Take Command & Conquer: Generals 2, for example. EA says it’s a “BioWare” game, but really, it’s being developed by the same studio responsible for the last few Command & Conquer games. Those games didn’t do that well, especially the woeful Command & Conquer 4, so in changing the name on the door to read “BioWare” instead of “EA”, the publisher is obviously hoping to trade off a little of the goodwill associated with the former while distancing themselves from the reputation of the latter.

Would you believe there are now eight individual video game developers known as BioWare? Eight! There’s the original team in Alberta, Canada. There’s BioWare Victory. There’s BioWare Austin, where Old Republic is in development. There’s BioWare Mythic, BioWare Ireland and BioWare San Francisco. There’s BioWare Montreal. There’s even BioWare Sacramento, which is…a social game developer.

EA probably hopes this’ll make BioWare’s brand stronger, or at least sell some more games to people who like hearing “FROM BIOWARE” at the start of a trailer, and don’t like hearing “FROM EA”.

What’ll probably happen, though, is it’ll all end in tears. When I think BioWare, I think characters, choices and lots of dialogue. I do not think real-time strategy. The more studios EA calls BioWare, and the more games it releases under that umbrella that aren’t associated with what that developer used to be known for, the more pointless the exercise becomes, as it trades away the very thing it was hoping to trade on in the first place.


      • Generals was a great game and I quite enjoyed CC3 although I felt the powers kind of ruined the game at times. Since those however, you’d have my full support if you felt like burning down the studios.

      • Generals was a hell of a lot of fun, the expansion was ever better imo even if it was a bit more unbalanced. The mods were even better. Totally worth the buy

  • I disagree. Red Alert 3 and CnC3 were both well preforming games that were also well made. I will give you CnC4 being a steaming pile of it though…

    • i agree with your point on RA3, it had interesting (if not slightly cliched and over done) characters and a decent story along with decent c n c rts gameplay.

    • Are you kidding? RA3 was horrible!! Wiping the slate and starting from scratch between 2 & 3 was a terrible move, plus, with each successive RTS EA has released, they’ve thinned out the numbers of combat units until RA3 were you have something like only 7 overall units to build (maybe 8). In RA, you had more than 7 types of infantry units alone! But that was back in the good ol’ Westwood days. C&C3 and Generals were probably the best releases, to me, in that Generals was so infinitely modible (Case in point, check out Cold War Crisis mod!) and C&C3 was a pretty decent, very pretty looking return for our Lord Kane. KANE LIVES IN DEATH!! C&C4 was probably, no, IS the biggest pile of shit they’ve unloaded on us.

      One of the things Generals is now renowned for is it’s modibility. But by cutting that out completely by making it an online, FTP game, that’s a massive audience who’s suddenly taken a hit, unless they introduce something like the valve workshop, but don’t get your hopes up. I’m willing to bet it’ll be more of the same, over the top, ridiculous units with barely one function and 1-2 upgrades, low overall constructible unit totals, barely any air, no sea units and the occasional low level super weapon paired with a higher power super weapon, with everything ultimately balances so each faction’s units are practically interchangeable with any other. I know Generals wasn’t quite like that, but that’s been the trend since 2002 onwards, a dumbing down of the game.

      I seriously hope I’m wrong, because I don’t want to be a hater, but it seems like RTS (Starcraft notwithstanding) is going the way of the space sim… 🙁

  • The weird thing is, EA a few years back seemed like they were making a real effort to not be evil anymore. When they were pushing original IPs like Dead Space and Mirror’s Edge and Mass Effect, when they were saying they need less sequels and more innovation. They were becoming the yang to Activision’s yin.

    But now it seems all that’s gone out the window because of the runaway success of Call of Duty. There’s too much money in it now to be standing on ceremony, EA are just playing to win. There’s nothing wrong with that of course, they are a business and their primary goal is to make money, but it is a bit sad to see someone take 1 step forward then 2 steps back. It was getting exciting for a while there…

    • I know right. When Activision started being giant tools, EA were really looking like the good guys. We thought the days of them buying up companies and butchering them (eg Westwood)…

    • Dont underestimate Brand-Loyalty, people will buy it because it has Bioware on the box.

      I hate EA so much right now, I want it to fail miserably and burn to the ground… It’s just sad that a good developer like Bioware has to be the sacrificial lamb to EA’s inevitable demise.

  • Red Alert 3, remains to this day, my favourite RTS.
    Maybe because of boobs.
    But it was fun. Tiberium Wars was good too.
    Twilight, not so much.

  • I was excited for another Generals game, but WTF does BIOWARE have to do with ANYTHING?!

    Give me some old school Generals, an overlord tank, and keep those cylinders oiled.

  • Wait a second – the same people who are making Generals 2 are the ones responsible for CnC4?

    Well, there goes that game.

    • They’re not.

      Westwood got shown the door after C&C4.
      Victory studios, later Victory: Bioware, was formed only about six months ago.

      • What? Mate, you’re about a decade too late. Westwood died after Red Alert 2. Everything subsequent, including Generals, Zero Hour, Red Alert 3, C&C 3, and C&C4, were made by EALA

  • Agreed, I wonder how long it will be before the Dr’s will abandon the Bioware ship and form a new independent studio.

    EA is doing the same the Visceral brand…

  • I’m wondering why they’re getting Bioware to do RTS…

    They’re a good studio, but they do RPGs???

    I don’t think EA is stupid to waste a good studio on a genre unless Bioware wanted to do an RTS?

  • So were going to bag out Generals 2 before it even hits? Wow.. Generals 1 was a great game an know many people who enjoyed it. That latter of the C&C universe might not have been as good, but you cant blame EA for trying to spruce up the series a bit and make something special.

    They failed, let them take a turn back to Generals and see if they can improve that formula before flaming them out..

  • EA basically *is* Bioware now. The Doctors talked about this in an interview recently. They’ve been put pretty high up in the EA organisation and are calling the shots at least partially for a huge chunk of EA’s actual development.

    This is something they’ve been doing for a while as well, it’s just that C&C is the first ‘Bioware’ game that’s seemed very un-Bioware.

    If I was a skeptic I’d suggest that EA are aware they’re going to ruin Bioware as a brand and as a development group in a few years so they’re trying to exploit the brand loyalty and recognition as much as they can while they can…

  • BioWare making a C&C game is a stretch? Hell, them making RPGs is a stretch – the company started out making medical applications. Why on earth would you think a games studio formed by doctors would know anything about making games period?

    • ?? What are you talking about???

      Please do yourself a favour and dont comment on kotaku ever again, now it is established that you dont know anything about gaming world

      • BioWare was founded by three doctors. Look it up in Wikipedia if you don’t believe me. They were trying to develop medical applications (hence the “Bio” in “BioWare”), but weren’t particularly good at it. So they tried their hand at games. I met Ray Muzyka when he came here to give a talk at AGDC (I think it was 2002, maybe 03). Point is, there’s no reason to believe that BioWare can’t make a successful non-RPG game when history shows that they’ve exceed expectation time and time again. And so what if it’s not the “real” BioWare studio making it – mass rebranding can turn out pretty well, just ask Rockstar.

  • Meh, this article is relevant AFTER the game is out and receives a low score, otherwise they could be passing it to bioware to give the franchise some new life.

    • I actually think its relevant now. For me, the damage was already done when they whored out to facebook. There are others who feel the same.

  • See, THAT is a good article. Short, informative and has a well established reasoned opinion.

    Keep this up Kotaku – I was expecting to see an AU before the title, but was surprised. 😀

  • informative article, i didn’t know it wasn’t the real Bioware behind the new C&C, thats lame and its sad to see a company as shitty as EA continue to do shitty things that shit on great devs such as BIOWAAAAARE!!!

  • That blew my mind, they fooled me. When I saw the trailer and it confirmed G2 in development at BIOWARE I thought “that’s awesome! Maybe they’ll make a good game!” Knowing its the same studio of recent… ew. I installed C&C3 after seeing the trailer, having never played it. It. Is. Horrible.

  • Despite some major balancing issues in C&C4 what really really killed it IMO was having to earn XP to get my units. And also the fact that I was limited to 50 points and the enemy had 3 bases and therefore 150 points of crap to throw at me.

    Strategy kinda goes out the window when your in a 3:1 fight with endless units.

  • holy crap! Really good article! Bioware was doomed from the moment EA bought them. I was just hoping for a few good games before it crashed. But with DA2 being sucky and the diluting of ME2 into a shooter it all went to hell early. Pitty

  • Time and again anything that EA touches would rot eventually

    In Rememberance of:
    Origins systems
    Bullfrog productions
    And now Bioware

    Sad sad day indeed

  • Considering they dropped the Forgotten Realms universe in favour of making up their own, I dont consider the current BioWare as the devs behind Baldurs Gate

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