uhhh.. WTF? EA restructures their RPG/MMO group…

What the …. is going on?

“Today we have important news to share with the community. EA is restructuring its RPG and MMO games development into a new group that includes both Mythic and BioWare. This newly formed team will be led by Ray Muzyka, co-founder and General Manager of BioWare. With this change, Ray becomes Group General Manager of the new  RPG/MMO studio group. BioWare’s other co-founder, Greg Zeschuk will become Group Creative Officer for the new RPG/MMO studio group. Rob Denton will step up as General Manager of Mythic and report to Ray. BioWare’s studios remain unchanged and continue to report to Ray.

Mark Jacobs, current General Manager of Mythic will leave EA on June 23, 2009. We thank Mark for his contributions at Mythic and wish him the very best going forward. Mark played a major part in the success of Mythic with his contribution as General Manager and Lead Designer of WAR.

Mythic retains a strong team led by Rob who co-founded Mythic in 1995. Rob played a critical role in the development of Dark Age of Camelot. In his previous role as COO, he was responsible for all day-to-day management of the studio including all development, operations and support.

Please join us in celebrating the union of these two award-winning studios.” [WAR Herald]

This makes nauseous and nervous and oddly curious all at the same time. Bioware and Mythic? I just don’t see this as a “good” thing right now.  I was really hoping that we were past EA absorbing studios and restructuring like this.  I have never seen anything good come from this and I fear that this is just another step towards having two big publishers doing every game out there.  Ugh.

I want to hope that this means we’re going to see better games, but this feels like a business decision and not one made in the best interest of gaming.  We could see some truly amazing results from a newly redone studio from EA but at the same time we could see all of these studios fail to live up to their past endeavors.  I’m inclined to believe the latter because that is what has happened in the past.

I’m very interested in hearing where you’re headed Mark.  Please let me know.

  • This seems awfully familiar… oh yeah, didn’t something very similar happen to the Age of Conan lead developer Gaute?

    I’m sure it’s not quite as bad as my example, but it sounds grim to me.

  • That doesn’t look good at all. And Mark Jacobs got the boot? He was my favorite guy up there, giving me hope about WAR. 🙁

  • That probably explains Mark’s being silent lately. Although as I remember he had mentioned something about going to long awaited vacation.

    I too can’t decide whether this is good or bad news… Have really mixed feelings about this.

    Also I’ve read we can expect a word on WAR’s future tomorrow… from Jeff Hickman…

  • They’re not yet saying they’re combining EA and Bioware’s organizations, just putting a management team atop both. Who knows what will happen in the future though.

    That, and Jacobs either got canned or quit.

  • Canned would be more dramalicious (=good). Warhammer isnt exactly living up to its ambitious goals.

  • I’m not sure what about this would make you nervous; BioWare is an incredible, talented studio, and they could use Mythic’s experience in the MMO genre on SWTOR. Likewise, Mythic could use a fresh perspective on WAR if they want to stop the subscription churn they’re seeing. It’s advantageous for both sides.

    I, for one, welcome our new BioWAAAGH overlords.

  • @WG: They may not have come right out and said that they’re combined, but Mythic reports to two Bioware guys… pretty clear to see who is in charge now.

    @Okaria: Like I said, we could see some amazing results from this. However, have we ever seen anything good come from restructuring like this in the past? Especially with EA? This is how EA has destroyed games and studios in the past. This is the type of stuff that game EA a horrible reputation that they have just begun to overcome in the past year.

  • I wonder if this is the end of the name, Mythic? Is this the result of WAR not doing as good as expected? I had several die hard WAR fans leave because RvR is broken. Maybe they should have had 3 factions?

  • @Scarybooster: Mythic and Bioware reform into a new “group” that report to Bioware’s execs. That sounds like the end of Mythic to me whether or not the name remains. I anticipate that they’ll keep the name “Bioware” because of its enormous brand loyalty.

  • Nah, i can’t see 3 factions being the solution. They just need a better end game. They have a really good game…. up until the end. RvR really has no tangible purpose other than keep swapping…. i miss the whole epic feel of relic raids etc…

  • Mythic -> EA Mythic -> Mythic -> Bioware?

    It will be interesting to see just how much work continues on WAR now. I could see them moving some of the staff to the KotOR title to jump start it. I would bet there are some good devs to be used as long as they have a clear goal from the designers.

  • I love how they call it a “union”, as if they’re getting married.

    Well, cue the “end of our lives” marriage jokes. 😉

  • Mythic has slowly been losing employees ever since they joined EA. If I had to guess where this will all lead to I’ll say that WAR will get a skeleton crew that will maintain the game. They’ll move some people over to SWTOR to make that game the cash cow we all know it is destined to be. Warhammer Online will continue to run but it will more than likely be phased out and become a distant memory much quicker than it would have naturally. More people will likely lose their jobs over this, which is sad.

    The real tear jerker in all of this is that I pray to god EA does not own the rights to a DAOC 2. I hope Mark Jacobs takes anyone he can with him, forms a new studio, and makes the game we all wanted.

  • Quite shocking but then you could see something is cooking when MJ stopped posting few months ago. Anyway hopefully this merge will be good for players.

  • I’m going to start a Mark Jacobs fan club, buy a giant world map, thousands of tacks, and travel the world in search of Mark Jacobs.

    My fan club proposed name: Where-o-Where: is Mark Jacobs or WoW: MJ for short.

  • Pushed, is my vote. You don’t have a merger and the once chief leaves, since there isn’t a spot anymore for them.

    Without a doubt the rollout of Warhammer has to have played a part. Success doesn’t tend to get you booted out of the front door, unless thats what you wanted when you signed up.

    Also the rebranding back to Mythic from EA Mythic doesn’t tend to happen, if people think that there is going to be another rejigging of company lines, a couple of months down the line. But this is EA and they are the monkeys who can’t to do anything brand wise unless it’s another sports franchise game, year 2008, 2009, 2010.

  • This can’t be bad for WAR… because honestly the game still isn’t gaining new players. Worse case scenario is we just circle the drain we were already circling faster… At the very least having Bioware’s name behind Mythic will give it some street cred now.

    If Mythic, under the supervision of this new group, can pull together a version of WAR with less bugs and some sort of balanced servers then we can see a profit.

  • From the way I understand it Bioware and Mythic are being “placed” into one RPG group. I think the only thing that has really changed is that Ray Muzyka is now the boss of both Studios. If this is the case then I don’t really see a problem as Ray Muzyka is very capable. If Im wrong and this changes both studios for the worse Ill be very upset.

  • Honestly, this worries me on many levels. After playing beta in WAR and knowing right where it was going, MJ was the only one who could keep me subbing up. Unfortunately it looks like Mythic is only going to be alive in name only. Hopefully Bioware can do something amazing for WAR but I have a feeling WAR is gonna be Bioware’s guinea pig for seeing what NOT to do with their upcoming MMO

  • A successfull MMO/game in a big corporation’s eyes is dollars and subscriptions. The game is meaningless if it doesn’t bring in money. What they do with Warhammer will be a business decision. I don’t think a corporate bigshot with a Bentley really cares if it took someone months to level a toon, or the friends they may have made in game. Just my two cents. I beleive if it doesn’t get fixed soon, their gonna amputate the infected limb… Brutal truth.

  • I have never been a fan of Mr. Jacobs at all. I am glad to see he got the boot/quit from Mythic. Mark never thought of anyone but himself and lied through his teeth when ever he could, at least when WAR came out.

    As for the whole restructuring going on between the two companies I do not think it will play as big of a role as you would think Keen.

    Look at Cyrpitc they are coming out with 2 MMOs around the same time as each other, Blizz will have 2 MMOs out in the comming years and Bioware and Mythic will have 2 (if you combine the compines)

  • Game is over for Mythic.

    This is nothing but a gut Mythic’s creative/art personnel, and anyone with some talent, roll them into Bioware, and turn out the lights on WAR.

  • War is a poorly designed game with some great ideas poorly implemented.Jacobs was border megalomaniac at times and he got what he deserves.

    I don`t think WAR will ever be what he was meant to be even under this new leadership.I’d prefer Bioware have their full focus on ToR than wasting time on WAR.

  • Mark Jacobs, while capable of being perceived as a “jerk” from his forum persona, is a solid game designer and a good guy. Even if you don’t like Warhammer you can’t deny that the game is still a success and it has a stronger player base than many, many mmorpgs out there.

    Restructuring between these two companies can not possibly be seen as solely a “good” thing. There are tons of “what about’s” written all over this for Mythic, the game, and the players.

    The lights are not going to be turned out on WAR just yet. That’s crazy for even EA. They’ll easily milk this on and see it through at least one paid expansion. We will likely see huuuuge changes to the game – many that players have probably wanted for years – but they’ll be done with an axe instead of a scalpel. It’ll be like SWG, EQ2, Vanguard, etc. and simply never be the same.

  • I think this is much ado about nothing. Corporations do this type of restructuring all the time. When they do, they have too many executives and not enough positions, so someone has to go. Don’t read too much into it.

  • Keen,

    This isn’t SOE, This is EA. Yeah, the EA of Earth and Beyond.

    Lights out or Life Support, functionally this game will be dead. TOR is the game that EA is going for Blizzard with. Huge dollars, great studio, and now, Mythic’s best.

  • I was a big fan of WAR in the beta days and after AOC’s fail of a launch I appreciated WAR’s more visible polish. However, I do believe WAR released too soon as many MMO’s are doing now. They could of mopped up WoW’s subscriber base right now and released a much more stable game. This announcement tells me that the lights will be out for WAR soon enough.

    Oh well, time to play more filler games until the good stuff comes out.

  • @Werit: When it comes to corporations and games, the two have a lot to do with each other. Letting people go and the shuffle that happens is obvious and comes as no surprise. What I’m looking at is how this will impact the current and future games of these studios (mostly Mythic, since it appears Bioware will come out of this unscathed).

    @Crackbone: I believe, based on comment #24 from me, that we are in agreement. WAR is going to go on life support, but it’s not going to be “the end” yet. Whether it’s good or bad for the game, it’ll linger on.

  • @keen: It is no secret that WAR was a disappointment, so Mark leaving isn’t a surprise. Beyond that, I don’t think it means much for Mythic right now. The other co-founder is still there and no other word of layoffs.

  • I agree with you, Keen. It doesn’t seem to bode very well for the future of WAR or SW:TOR. Why rock the boat? I can’t really understand the decision and I agree it seems to be corporate thing rather than a gaming thing.

    I wonder why Mark Jacobs left. Maybe he didn’t want to merge and got pushed into it…

  • EA probably won’t sink many too many more resources into WAR, nor should they imho. Do we need new content? NO! Do we need them to spend their time fixing the game? YES!

    – Fix city siege
    – Fix career balance
    – Fix game performance
    – Fix all the broken and buggy quests, skills, and instances
    – Fix it so that zerg /= win

    We don’t need bodies working on whimsical new instances, zones, expansions or anything else that isn’t the core part of the RvR experience. We need them to fix what is fundamentally broken in their game for a change.

    If they can’t get this concept into their brains, WAR will always be doomed to mediocrity.

  • @Werit: The changes will be gradual and it may take months to actually see a difference, but it will be there. Who is this co-founder you are referring to?

    @Snafzg: This is what I’m talking about. We’ll see these changes for sure now. The first thing this new “group” will do in WAR is “fix” it, like other companies “fix” games that come under their control. This “group” is now in charge of the creative process, direction, and probably everything related to WAR — It’s crucial that people grasp this concept. The first thing they will do is start to make big changes without thinking, deeply, about the outcome. EA is not SOE, but we’ll see the same things. We’ll see the things you’ve listed changed and the changes will be done with a sledgehammer and an axe, not a scalpel.

    It could end really, really well for the game and bring it out of mediocrity or it could destroy it.

    @We Fly Spitfires: Saying that Mark “left” is just a nice way of saying he was fired. Unless Mark comes forward and says that he actually decided to leave, we are to assume he was canned.

  • @keen: Mythic’s co-founder… Rob. It is in the announcement. There is no guarantee those changes will happen. EA just made a MMO division, someone had to lead it and it wasn’t Mark. Time will tell, of course you may be right.

  • If Mark wanted to leave himself, he would have surely wrote something so as to explain his decision. This is of course my estimated guess or rather what I would have done.

    The words: “to report to” can be understood with plenty of subtle differences in meaning. They still, however, don’t sound like ‘independent decision’ or ‘full control’ to me.

    Bioware is clearly put above Mythic in this merge/union/reduction thing.

    …and id Software has been bought by ZeniMax… World! Where are you going?! 🙂

  • @Werit: I’m not sure how Denton being around is reassuring though. It’s not as though he’s been vocal at all. In fact, have we ever once been told what part he played in WAR, if any? He had some hands on with DAOC, if I remember correctly, but as for WAR I can’t recall him being more than a name.

    This is way bigger than simply forming a MMO division. They’ve essentially removed complete control over an autonomous studio and placed them under another. This may all be part of forming this new rpg/mmo division, but where Mythic is concerned they’re essentially dissolving from the top down.

  • I would like to see Mark do a DAOC 2 though. WAR was just to many ideas without the right type of execution involved.

    However I doubt we will see a DAOC 2 in the near future let along at all. It would be nice to have and very fun to play, however I just can not see it happening.

  • wow.. i am sure Jacobs now regrets the sale of the company he built from nothing to EA and get turfed like that. Although i am sure he is walking away a pretty wealthy guy.

    As for the future of Mythic it’s essentially dead and will probably be renamed at some point to EA/Bioware Virginia to go along with Bioware Austin and Bioware Edmonton.

    Look the game (war) didnt live up to its hype and when you dont someone has to pay. Jacobs was the goat here unfortunately for him. Bioware is a top dog and I am sure they can add some nice touches to Warhammer, at least its not SOE taking over!

  • @Romble

    I would like to see a game that did live up to the hype or even surpassed it for that matter.

    Thanks to Paul and the community at large WAR was hyped to stratospheric levels. Everyone who bought the game should have known a lot of what was said would not be in the game.

    Along with city cuts, class cuts, features, and many other items on the list that got the chop before launch its no wonder Mark left.

    EA rushed the game out the door to beat Wotlk, that is no secret. As much as I hate Mark he would have at least wanted to wait and get the game in better shape.

    So I bet Mark is in a bittersweet spot, leaves his job as top dog at Mythic but gets to get out of EA’s iron grip.

    Bioware I hope is fairing off a bit better the Mythic is under EA at the moment.

    As a side note, for all of those that ask Mythic not to touch SWtor hear is my opinion. Bioware makes good games yes but Star Wars is not the next coming of the MMO Messiah. I am sure the game will be good but even given the art style it is just a turn off for me.

    Bioware took the path of the Star Wars animated series that plays on Cartoon Network. With todays more graphically pleasing MMOs (WAR, AoC, Aion) I would expect something more next-gen to come out.

    However Bioware is playing the safe route and making the game more “accessible” to others by allowing it to look more like WoW but with more detail.

    We will just have to wait and see how Mythic turns out along with Bioware on this subject.

  • This bothers me about the quality of The Old Republic because Warhammer was very disappointing to play.

  • It’s really hard to say what the future holds for WAR right now. I’m sure there will be meetings at Bioware/Mythic discussing the current state of the game and what to focus on going forward.

    While I don’t agree that the game will go on life support yet (how could a game with around 300,000 players be going on life support?) these developments certainly bring up concerns for the future of WAR.


    But I couldn’t agree with Snafzg more…future development of WAR needs to focus on FIXING things instead of adding flashy new content. City seiges (which were hyped pre-launch beyond belief) are a joke…and keep seiges aren’t much better.

  • Mark Jacobs wrote a similar “we love EA and they love us” post somewhere when they sold out to EA. Maybe Josh means what he is saying, and maybe everyone has good intentions, but anyone who believes that is stupid.

  • Again, we can expect nothing else than the positive spin publicly. These guys still have to push on and get things done. But I do feel that Jacobs was canned no matter what is said by anyone. Let us all hope that WAR still gets the attention it deserves. Get to fixing capital sieges and keep sieges already!

  • And what he was writing can very well be true WHEN HE WROTE IT. It’s like saying a divorced couple has never loved each other. How do we know?

    I am quite sure you understand when EA was seeing Mythic as a money maker there was no problem. This is a warning to Mythic, and if they can step it up and improve the game, I doubt there would be further “restructuring”.

  • WAR is my game. Despite it flaws I enjoy it greatly. It’s the only MMO I really want to play, so for now, I’m going to hold out hope that the merger will see a more efficient staff on WAR, and I’m hoping some good leadership can turn T4 into the awesome it needs to be.

  • I totally agree. Ultimately, I want nothing but good things for Warhammer Online. It’s my current game as well. Heck, tonight I just finished up all my greater wards and I had fun despite T4’s problems. Being under Bioware’s thumb could mean that the game is managed better and churns out more content and fixes than the players could have hoped.

    But does anyone, deep down, really believe that is going to happen? Call me a cynic, but I don’t.

  • I hope Bioware gets some good experience running an MMO. It’s the right move from a business perspective – WAR will probably never go north of 200k, SW:TOR could do millions.

    But it must be said, Mythic’s content creation team doesn’t seem to really stack up with Bioware’s. Hope they keep them on their own projects.

  • Honestly, with this news, I hope that Mythic doesn’t influence the upcoming Star Wars MMO. WAR was a big disappointment for me and I don’t want to see the same sloppy game design (e.g. bugs and fundamental game flaws) go into the new Star Wars game.

    Mark seems like a decent guy and I’m sure he’ll land on his feet. His experience should net him some good opportunities elsewhere.

  • This can only help SW:TOR, Doesn’t matter how you feel about mythic or WAR its insane to expect a first time MMO creator to get it right the first time with no help. Adding mythic’s personal to do some of the basic things MMO’s need is only logical, Let mythic handle the frame work and bio do the story and creative concepts.

    Personal i don’t equate pretty video = good mmo so im not hyped on SWTOR.

  • @ #1 FenixStryk: The big difference being that Gaute leaving and Craig replacing him was a GOOD thing for AoC.
    Craig was the man who took Anarchy Online from a disaster to a solid MMO (which still is being played several years after), and what he has been doing for AoC so far seems nothing but great imo.

    Mark Jacobs leaving Mythic/WAR is sad though, imo he’s one of the few leads who actually takes a active role in the community, discussing with his subscribers and listens to their feedback. I can’t ever recall seeing a post from Blizzards lead dev or CEO discussing game mechanics etc for instance.

    I’m not playing WAR atm, was planning on resubbing now that LotD is released but I’m not sure if I cba.

  • 1. Earth and Beyond had 38K users at it’s PEAK and 22K when theys hut it down. If that is the critera for closing servers at EA WAR is safe.

    2. No one questions MBJ’s love for Mythic. If nothing else I respect him for this. I think he was a decent game designer and manager, but a horrible PR person.

    3. I’m sure he got a decent check from EA to keep his mouth shut. Everyone know’s he loves to talk and there has to be outward pressure from somewhere keeping him quiet.

  • @Nobs: Concerning #1, both Earth and Beyond and Motor City Online were running on pre-established server infrastructure (same as UO I recall) that was very cost-effective for those games. By most accounts, MCO especially was profitable and EA’s reasoning were “other market factors”, which has been generally accepted as codespeak for “we didn’t want it to compete with our non-online driving games.

    Point is, using E&B’s numbers as a threshold for closing servers, is flawed logic. EA is probably more concerned about critical mass.

    Now granted I don’t think WAR is closing down tomorrow. There’s an issue of how closing abruptly could be perceived by potential customers, but make no mistake: EA wants critical mass. If they think for a second that WAR could impact the sales of their next game (MMO or otherwise), I’d say closing it has definitely crossed their minds. More likely, they’d be looking at slowly phasing it down and then maybe out.

    I think EA’s typical logic on these things is equally flawed, they’ve got too many marketing people juggling numbers, but going by the track record, the current situation is not all that surprising.