Ex-Mass Effect Dev Rips EA Over Forced Multiplayer, Microtransactions

A former BioWare developer has some harsh words to say about EA and the future of games from the publisher EA

According to former BioWare developer Manveer Heir, microtransactions are becoming the new trend in making games. While it doesn’t make Mass Effect Andromeda a terrible game, it does struggle to come close to the other entries in the Mass Effect franchise. Heir was recently on Waypoint Radio to talk about his experience working at BioWare, and how it all went wrong for Andromeda.

"It's definitely a thing inside of EA," Heir said on the podcast. “They are generally pushing for more open-world games, and the reason is you can monetize them better. The words in there that were used are 'have them come back again and again'. Why do you care about that at EA? The reason you care about that is because microtransactions: buying card packs in the Mass Effect games, the multiplayer. It's the same reason we added card packs to Mass Effect 3: how do you get people to keep coming back to a thing instead of 'just' playing for 60 to 100 hours?"

Interestingly enough, the problem seems to be one created by the publishers themselves. Heir said game budgets have grown to more than $100 million. Because of this, publishers want to get the biggest return possible, even if it means cramming microtransactions and multiplayer modes into games.

Unfortunately for gamers, EA’s microtransaction business is booming, which will likely lead to similar affairs in future EA games. Gamers will be constantly asked to spend more and more money on a game they have already been purchased.

"That's the reason other EA products started getting multiplayer that hadn't really had them before, because we nailed it and brought in a ton of money,” Heir said. “It's repeatable income versus one-time income. I've seen people literally spend $15,000 on Mass Effect multiplayer cards."

While referencing BioWare’s next major game, Anthem, and the closing of EA studio Visceral Games, Heir goes so far as to claim single-player gaming at EA currently doesn’t exist. “If [Anthem’s] what you're seeing from a place like BioWare, owned by EA, a place where I worked for seven years; if that's what you're seeing from Visceral now closing and going to this other Vancouver studio; what it means is that the linear single-player triple-A game at EA is dead for the time being."

On the podcast, Heir also made a point to criticize the lack of diversity at BioWare for what led to a more than lackluster final product. When asked about the seeming glorification of colonialism, Heir said some people at BioWare, including white men, spoke up about the issue, but ultimately the studio’s leadership had the final say.

“There's a lot of really good people inside of BioWare who spoke up on this stuff," he said. "This is what happens when, I think, you have a homogeneous leadership. The leadership of Mass Effect Andromeda was all white men."

Heir is now working independently, looking to raise money for a new project about the war on drugs and its negative impacts on inner-city communities.

So what do you think? Do you agree that the triple-A single-player game is dead? Will all future games include microtransactions in some capacity? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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