Dragon Age: Bioware’s Smashiest Hit Ever*

By Alec Meer on July 13th, 2010 at 4:03 pm.

Just as a follow-up to Jim’s post earlier, it’s worth pointing out a Bioware comment from last week in which they revealed that Dragon Age: Origins was their most successful game ever. Which makes it doubly weird that they’re trying to make Dragon Age 2 more like the Mass Effects. The first one, at least, was a less successful project.

*As of last November. Mass Effect 2 probably did okay too.

We should be very proud.

This means that a title made primarily for PC (or, at least, I’m going to presume as much, due to Dragon Age’s console versions reviewing far less favourably) has outsold primarily console hits Mass Effect 1 and 2 and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.

Speaking at an EA showcase, principal designer Rob Bartel said to MCV, “Dragon Age was an extremely successful title for us – last November it was the single most globally successful title we’ve put out to date.”

Also, as of February, EA had shipped 3.2 million Dragon Age units to retailers worldwide, y’know. That’s big. Really big.

I’m going to make a bit of a wild guess that something a little similar to Sins of a Solar Empire happened. The game appealed heavily to a bunch of gamers who know exactly what they want, who have money to spend and are prepared to spend it, rather than just a mass of floating audience who were simply curious. People who go deep, especially. Dedicated, passionate, impossibly valuable customers.

If DA2 really is going ME2, that’s then an astonishingly risky gambit. In the name of having an even bigger success yet, they’re risking alienating their biggest audience so far by emulating the approach of less successful but broader, more widely-hyped game.

Or maybe they’re not. I’ve not seen or played DA2. I’m just very surprised that so far the discussion has centered around how it’s not like DA:O, rather than how it is like it. They’re clearly chasing both audiences, because that means really big numbers. Helluva chance to take, though.

[General RPS note: it's worth considering how the single chappie character design pitches this against The Witcher 2, which is offering the only clear competition to the Bioware game.]

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135 Comments »

  1. Flobulon says:

    It’s worth noting the “last November” though – Mass Effect 2 was only released this year, wasn’t it?
    It would be interesting to see a more recent comparison of sales figures.

    • Daniel Rivas says:

      Indeed. I seem to remember Mass Effect 2 sold more than a million in its first week – so the news that Dragon Age was more successful surprised me a little.

      Also, would be nice to know how much each game took to make. Dragon Age was in production for so long…

    • Man Raised By Puffins says:

      Yup, 2 million in the first week (albeit estimated, but I’ll bet anyone a shiny pound coin that ME2 has surpassed Dragon Age in sales by now).

      As for the long gestation period of Dragon Age, as I understand most of the time was spent with just a couple of dudes locked away in a basement generating the lore, snacking on rodents and mocking up dungeons in NWN. The production didn’t really ramp up until later on.

    • bob_d says:

      Given all the television ads I saw for Dragon Age, the 3 million sales probably doesn’t even cover development and marketing costs. So the “success” that we’re talking about here consists of the revenue from expansion content. That’s where they made their profits, so even with more sales of ME2, Dragon Age will still end up making more money.
      With that being the case, it makes perfect sense that they’re looking to make it more like ME2 – they get a broader base upon which they can add expansion sales.

    • Daniel Rivas says:

      3.2 million in sales is $192,000,000 taken. How much markup to shops do? About 50%? So that’s $96,000,000. I believe the most expensive game made – GTA IV – cost $100,000,000 to make. Dragon Age ain’t Grand Theft Auto.

    • Uhm says:

      Plus they don’t ship digital distributions to retailers. Obviously.

    • Jimbo says:

      Dragon Age will have made a tidy profit at 3 million sales – probably broke even around 1.5M would be my guess.

      Mass Effect 2 is a lot tougher to call, because it had ‘only’ sold 1.6 million by the end of March (a lot lower than I thought, and probably a lot lower than they were expecting). I think that’s probably cutting it pretty close, but I imagine they got a decent amount of exclusivity money from Microsoft too.

    • tab says:

      @jimbo

      the sales numbers for ME2 say they sold 2 million in the first week…..

      http://www.1up.com/do/newsStory?cId=3177757

  2. MrCraigL says:

    I fear change and the lack of a choice of being an Elf.

  3. Paul McGee says:

    Last November it was the best selling Bioware game. I wouldn’t be surprised if ME2 was bigger. That said I am a bit disappointed by the direction they’re going in. Although, the console game having a different battle system is a great, sensible idea.

  4. Rhythm says:

    I can understand why people liked ME2 but it deviated from the original vision so much that for me it was essentially unplayable. I *really* hope that they’re not going to pull things too far down the “action” hole for Dragon Age’s sequel(s)

  5. ZIGS says:

    Dragon Age: Bioware’s newest shit ever?

  6. jackflash says:

    I sense EA’s sinister influence, here. They didn’t like the metacritic scores for the console versions, which were clearly “more important” than the PC version, right?

  7. Meat Circus says:

    This is Bioware’s problem.

    It sold well, because it was Bioware, and people expected it to be like Mass Effect. Unfortunately console gamers (a sizable majority of players) would have gotten it home and been horrified that they’d been hoodwinked into buying a (spit) PC Game. And so the game was badly received on consoles.

    It’s a difficult square to circle, but Mass Effect 2 is a clear sign that BioWare can do it if they put their mind to it. RPG purists may howl and gnash, but Mass Effect 2 was a vastly superior game to its RPG-mechanic heavy predecessor.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      From what I understand, though, it sold really well on PC. We just don’t know how well.

    • Daniel Rivas says:

      I think the game was badly received on consoles because it wasn’t very good on consoles. Or am I wrong?

    • RQH says:

      @Daniel Rivas: It wasn’t very good on consoles. It was playable. But the kind of juicy tactical micromanagement that made it a deep, enjoyable experience on PC didn’t convert well to the console controller. There was no way to pause the game while assigning orders to your party, and no way to simply click on the portrait of the person you wanted to assign orders to. This meant you had to cycle through your party members to get to the one you wanted to assign orders to, all while the battle was still carrying on. The very deep system of setting up tactics only ameliorated this somewhat: it was impossible (as far as I could tell) to set up nested conditionals, so each major battle toward the end of the game was preceded by twenty minutes of scripting your own AI. If you turned the difficulty down to easy you could blaze through it, but then it was no fun because you spent most of the time watching your character auto-attack, waiting for the cooldown on your three abilities to expire.

      Also, the consoles couldn’t handle it graphically.

      I was given the console version as a gift. I sludged through it on console. I ended up buying the PC version for myself, and Awakening for PC as well. Entirely different (superior) game on PC. Not just a case of “console tard doesn’t want deep systems on her machine, hur hur hur.” Gameplay not designed for console, full stop. Now, I don’t see why they couldn’t implement a pause system on the console and encourage console players to play that way, instead of going the more actiony route, but apparently BioWare has the same respect for console gamers that most PC gamers do.

    • Robin says:

      I red somewhere that the 3.2 M copies are so divided:
      2M – Xbox360
      1M – ps3
      200K – P (only counting boxed copies)
      Is this true?

      However I don’t understand why cant’ we have complete data about pc performance. I really hate it.

    • Robin says:

      “P” stands for PC …

    • Deuteronomy says:

      ME2 isn’t even in the same league as ME1. ME2 isn’t fit to carry ME1′s jock strap. ME2 is a sad mess compared to ME1′s shining brilliance. Death to ME2. LONG LIVE ME1!

    • Daniel Rivas says:

      Mass Effect was a mediocre RPG. Mass Effect 2 was a fun man-shoot. So says I.

  8. Kualtek says:

    Hopefully Dragon Age 2 will be less buggy than it’s predecessor. Worrying about saving at every zone in gets old REAL fast.

  9. JohnArr says:

    I’m sure no one has forgotten Bioware’s miserable marketing for DA:O, chasing an audience they wanted rather than the one they had. Yet DA:O still turned out excellent for their core fans. I’m not slashing my wrists just yet.

  10. RQH says:

    It’s also worth noting, though I have no numbers on this, that Dragon Age was the first BioWare game to make an appearance on PS3 as well as PC and Xbox 360. I realize that the PS3-unique base is smaller than 360 and PC, but it could also be part of the puzzle.

    Still and regardless, the first game seems to have succeeded on its own merits, which does make the latest move with the sequel odd.

  11. Marco Antonio says:

    I would know how many copies are for pc!

  12. ikkmnlkkuklu says:

    Thank god. My brother gave me the limited edition for DA:O to burrow and I have to say, I loved the bioware dialogue, but i hated HATED the game play. Play anything above easy and you’re pausing every 3 seconds. I got 3 hours in and I determined that the horrible slow-paced game was too painful to continue what looked to be a promising game. Mass effect 2 had a much more action-oriented game play, and though it’s still slower and less intense than the games I usually play, I got to enjoy both sides of the coin. I’m very excited to see what changes they make.

    I may be flamed for my posting my view to this news, but I represent a market that bioware won’t tap into unless they make more mass effect 2′s out of their RPGs.

    Primary games played (for point of reference): Bad Company 2, Starcraft 2, Red Alert 3, Supreme Commander 2, Rocket Knight
    Favorite RPG games: Mass Effect&2, Psychonauts (everything else is too painfully slow)

    • Bureaucrat says:

      If I’m not pausing every 3 seconds, I’m not having much fun. I hate it when games rush me.

    • Urthman says:

      I think you’re exactly the sort of gamer that Dragon Age fans would humbly request that you just try something else and not ask Dragon Age to change into the kind of game you like.

    • Simon Dufour says:

      *hint* Psychonauts is not an RPG, it’s a platformer. It doesn’t even have any RPG elements.

    • Urthman says:

      Simon, Psychonauts has plenty of RPG elements: inventory, leveling up, skills, conversation trees, open world exploration, sidequests, choice about which order to do the various missions, NPCs going about their business, money and gear to buy with it.

      But yes, it’s definitely a different genre than Dragon Age, and asking Dragon Age to be more like Psychonauts is like asking Portal to be more like God of War.

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      oceanclub says:

      “Play anything above easy and you’re pausing every 3 seconds.”

      Er, isn’t that kinda the point?

      P.

    • cw8 says:

      Oh then please leave our strategic games alone. There’s already more than enough action type games, over saturated in fact. Seeing more of those makes me sick. Luckily TBS and Strategy games are done well by Paradox, Firaxis and Stardock. Just that there are not enough deep, strategic RPGs still.

  13. Paul S. says:

    Surely this has more to do with availability? DA was available on everything – PC, Xbox, ps3. I could be wrong about this, but I’m fairly sure that ME wasn’t available on ps3. DA was simply open to a bigger audience than Mass Effect.
    …but I could be utterly, shamefully wrong.

    • Kualtek says:

      That just seems more logical. Developing for three platforms will obviously increase your potential sale base. The only reason I can see to be a ‘console exclusive’ is if the console publisher is paying for part of the development.

      You could also say that it takes more time to develop for three platforms, and i’m sure that’s true…although I wonder how much extra time that really takes?

  14. Meat Circus says:

    Given that Mass Effect 2 has only been out since March, and that DA:O’s been out for a year and a half, it hardly seems correct to say that DA:O is “more successful”.

    Current trends project that Mass Effect 2′s lifetime sales will be more than double DA:O, which sort of makes RPS’s argument somewhat pointless.

  15. Tei says:

    I have a bad opinion of the taste of the masses, so if something is popular, is automatically suspicious to me… yet, I see I could be wrong, as something could be popular and wrong at the same time.

    Dragon Age was Ok’ish on most things, with a few brilliant things. The question is, do it have something worth stealing? If other artist can steal some ideas from DA:O, then is not wasted time.

    • Tei says:

      “as something could be popular and wrong at the same time” , … it was popular and good.
      my error.

    • Bhazor says:

      “Don’t worry what people think. People like Coldplay and voted for the Nazi party” – Super Hans.

    • Premium User Badge

      drewski says:

      More people didn’t vote for the Nazi party than did vote for it, of course.

      And Coldplay might be Coldplay, but at least they’re not Justin Bieber.

  16. Simon Dufour says:

    I have the same feeling that they wouldn’t scrap this successful IP. I think they’ll take the strenghts of what they’ve learn and create something good out of it. That’s what they did between ME and ME2. That’s what they’re doing between DAO and DA2. I think we should stay optimistic.

    We’re not doomed yet. Let’s wait for more official informations before slitting our wrists.

    Even then, I didn’t want DA2 to be an expansion pack. I’m glad they decided they could make it better. If I ever want to play DAO again, I’ll install it. I don’t need to buy another game using the same engine and the same combat and the same horrible loot and weirdness. I will prefer to see them test something new and try to refine their genre even more.

    Whatever people say, I didn’t want DA2 to be the same. I want a new experience in the DA setting. They could even decide to make an RTS and I’d play. Just show me something interesting, with new features that I can love or hate. Just like they did with their origins in the 1st one.

    • yaster says:

      Have fun playing Mass Effect 2&1/2: Dragon Age edition.

    • Corporate Dog says:

      @yaster: Is that like ‘Oblivian With Guns’?

      If so, I suspect that I WILL have fun playing it. Thank you.

      PS: That other article that’s kicking around here? It suggests that console gameplay will be markedly different from PC gameplay. So it sounds like the only cross that PC players will have to bear, is that they can’t play as Balthazar Grymnightstalker, their elven wizard from that D&D campaign they ran back in Jr. High School.

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      drewski says:

      “It’s just Mass Effect 2 in Middle Earth.”

  17. The Hammer says:

    I’d definitely say that we need more clarity on that quote before people start jumping to any conclusions: as someone said earlier, that quote alone is the only reference we have to the “Dragon Age sold the most ever” story.

  18. Count Elmdor says:

    So is the reasoning that there are a ton of people who bought and loved Dragon Age that did not buy nor love Mass Effect 2? Because I see a lot of overlap, myself.

    • Meat Circus says:

      I think the reasoning is (1) Dragon Age Origins has been out five months longer, and (2) DA:O was also released on the PS3.

      The it seems most on this thread are not convinced that Mass Effect 2 won’t have outsold DA:O by now. It deserves too, it’s a much better game.

      In the end, isn’t that the heart of the matter? BioWare correctly realises that Mass Effect 2 was the better game than DA:O, so it’s no surprise where their eyes should be turning in trying to make the console experience not be shit.

    • Deuteronomy says:

      ME2 was horrible shit.

    • Corporate Dog says:

      Ebert?

    • Fumarole says:

      I guess that would be me; I loved DA and didn’t buy ME2 after playing ME for a while before the tedious combat got to me.

  19. Teliach says:

    No matter really if it sold more or less than ME2, I think is not a good decission to have both games being the same but one Mass effect on Space and another Fantasy Mass Effect, different games, different playstyles.

    This way will only serve to tire the audience, yes ME2 was loved by many, including me, but playing ME2, then Dragon Age 2: the mass effect, then ME3, it will get old fast, seems counter productive to make all their games appeal to the same audience when they were by no means lacking on success

    Also, again with the complete shitty marketing, one of the strenghts of role-playing games is creating your character and how your character is different, this of trying to push a standard Hawke or Sheppard is really dumb and is their targetign a audience that wil not really be playing their games, don’t know anyone that plays bioware games for their awesome action combat.

    And femshep all the way, is also sutpid so awesome work on it was compeltly ignored on all marketin of the game, will be soon when female Hawke and Sheps will be remvoed cause they don’t appeal to the mass market teens.

    • Saint says:

      They wouldn’t touch it because it would alienate the women players. Most of the women I know prefer RPGs to anything and I could see a couple of the feminists (watching them play something like Gears of War is a treat let me tell you) not buying anymore Bioware games. Imagine on a bit larger of a scale.

  20. Ben L. says:

    There are already tons and tons of fast-paced games out there, and many of those with RPG elements. Heck, there are a boatload of fast-paced RPGs out there.

    Is it really necessary that the *one* major party-based ersatz-tactical CRPG to come along in essentially the past decade be broken to fit your tastes?

    Honestly I wouldn’t mind devs abandoning/remodeling certain types of games for more lucrative ones if the pool they were pulling from was bigger. But when the only remaining one in the pool is repurposed and cannibalized, it annoys me greatly.

    Especially since this series was a new franchise, think of it. Excluding things like Drakensang, the first major non-sequel CRPG of this type in a DECADE, and already in less than 2 years it looks like it’s fizzled away and died.

    • Meat Circus says:

      Dragon Age: Origins was an inherited project, an anachronism even when at was announced. Nobody would design an RPG like that nowadays, it’s simply not plausible given the mores of the audience and the evolution of the RPG genre.

      Dragon Age 2 is BioWare responding to the inevitable.

    • Benjamin L. says:

      [curmudgeonhat]
      It may be inevitable, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

      Or buy it.
      [/curmudgeonhat]

    • Nick says:

      And yet it sold a fuckton. You can’t honestly claim that every single one of those copies, or even the majority, were people who bought it because of Mass Effect.

      They proved that there is commercial viability in a big budget moderatly old school western RPG. And why shouldn’t there be? There is still a huge market for even older school J-RPGs.

    • Corporate Dog says:

      @Nick: I think the better question is, “They bought it once, but will they buy it again?” I suspect that Bioware has already asked themselves that question, and that’s why they’re mixing up the formula.

      I played the game on my PC where it deserves to be played. But the general consensus is that the console implementation was weak. The gameplay just doesn’t lend itself well to a gamepad.

      Fortunately, it sounds like Bioware is planning on going with two development branches for the sequel: an action-oriented console game, and a PC game that retains the old-school RPG feel. I can cope with the Mass Effect-style dialogs and cookie-cutter main character; in fact, I almost sort of relish them. It’ll be nice to have a character who isn’t a mute.

    • Psychopomp says:

      All I’m getting from what Meat Circus is saying, is that new=better.

  21. Pijama says:

    I, for one:

    1 – welcome a more dynamic combat system which breaks the “click-click-click-potion-wait for spell-potion-superspell-special attack one-special attack two-switch char-repeat-grab loot after enemy is dead”.

    2 – puts forward a different character interaction method for a fantasy game. Might be a worthwhile experience, for all it matters.

    But!

    1 – Unless you got a bastard called the Nameless One, a fantasy setting with such massive character restriction is a tremendous handicap, IMHO. So yeah, if you are going through the “ONE CHARACTER OF TRUTH” way, get a seriously good actor/actress to do his lines, review his dialog a hundred times at least and allow as much flexibility as possible – not just blacks and whites, but being able to do a shade of gray is also pretty convenient! Essentially, make a GREAT protagonist for us to play.

    2 – I fear for what they call “strategic combat”. All we see is a dude with a bigass sword. Not good.

  22. KilgoreTrout XL says:

    I basically want Baldur’s Gate 3, 4, 5 etc., so these rumored changes are kind of a bummer. I liked ME 2 though, and I thought DA: O was gonna suck and it wound up not sucking at all. So I’ll withhold judgment.

  23. Jeremy says:

    Random question: Do we know how far into the future DA2 will be compared to DA:O? Like, 18 years and 9 months (ie, just in time for OGB to be born?) OGB = Old God Baby, fyi. One thing I’m curious about, is how things have changed in terms of racial division, class struggle, etc. Are City Elves still City Elves? Or are they just elves who are equal and yet happen to still live in the city?

    At this point, I feel like I have no real concept of what is changing and what is staying the same. We have a lot of bullet points, but I just don’t know how to contextualize any of it, and so as of now, I have no real pros or cons to assign out to DA2. I’m cautiously, skeptically, optimistic?

    • RQH says:

      @Jeremy: My understanding is, you play as a guy who escaped Lothering when it was attacked by the darkspawn in the first game, ruling out the possibility of you being Old God Baby. That does seem like a missed opportunity. Of course, in my playthrough of DA, there was no Old God Baby.

    • Premium User Badge

      Kradziej says:

      As far as I know DA2 begins while DA1 is ending, and it’s story lasts 10 years.
      I just hope they will save us all those shitty “OK, SO YOUR CHARACTER KINDA WENT THERE AND NOW WE JUMP LIKE 5 YEARS INTO THE FUTURE”.

  24. Premium User Badge

    _Nocturnal says:

    Nice! I’m sure they’ll decide the success it had was because of the wonderful, Marilyn Manson-themed advertisements, too.

  25. RQH says:

    It’s weird to be made to feel nostalgic for a game that came out last year.

  26. Clovis says:

    How would Dragon Age Effect II even work? It makes sense as far as magic goes, but it seems like that system would be lame with melee combat.

    I’m assuming that we aren’t going to get Mass Dragon Age II, but rather just a bit of ME in our DA.

    Anyway, it’s fun to compare these articles and comments to a group like Joystiq. They were pretty excited abotu DA2 during the podcast. And why wouldn’t they be? The console DA:O was apparently a mess, and they like the ME2 style better. I don’t think that’s simply because they are console-tards or something. I probably like the ME2 style better too, really.

    • Premium User Badge

      James G says:

      I liked DA better on paper, ME2 better in practice. I think ME2 provided a lot of lessons that DA, and many games, can learn from, but I’m sincerely hoping we don’t just end up with Mass Effect 2 with swords!!11oneoneeleven! Not that ME2 with swords wouldn’t necessarily be a good game, but variety is the spice of life.

  27. kutkh says:

    I liked both, and it’d be nice to have both: that’s what this comes down to, really. It’s ironic that by shifting over to the Mass Effect system they’re having to do away with character continuity, which is, after all, the payoff that ME’s more restricted system affords. With the amount of time I invested in DA:O and Awakening, I’ll be sad to see my Warden(s) written out of the story, which of course they will have to be. It’s a step backwards for the genre; something I could swallow with KOTOR2, but that was six years ago.

    Secondly: Hawke? That’s really the best they could do?

  28. Vinraith says:

    Well, even if Bioware insistently ignores their own sales data, maybe someone else will notice and act appropriately. It’s not as though Ferelden itself was all that unusually interesting, it was just really nice to have an old-school RPG again. There’s no reason someone else couldn’t make one just as good, if not better, and this should certainly be sufficient evidence that something along those lines would sell.

    • TheApologist says:

      Yep – surely this is an open invitation for small to medium sized developers to make a Black Isle type game, in the way that the 400 year (or whatever) gap between Diablo 2 and 3 made room for Titan Quest, Torchlight etc.

  29. DigitalSignalX says:

    Streamlining the dialogue choices and making it more real time sounds superb. I think that enhances the immersion of RPG games instead of having big pregnant pauses between every sentence. Keeping the combat complex and clicky on the PC only is also good – at least they’re honest about utilizing the SUPERIOR AWESOME FLEXIBILITY™ of the PC while still trying to make it a more enjoyable experience for console twats users.

    However, detracting from the RPGishness is the dumbing down of the player character choices, which means dumbing down the skill choices, which means lowering the replayability, which means it’s still being stupidified for consoles.

    It’s inevitable perhaps. When something is found brilliant, it must be wrung out and made droll in it’s second iteration in order to try and grab an even broader audience the second time around instead of.. you know, standing on it’s merits and doing what it did *really well* the first time. They did the same thing with Mass Effect 2. It was wildly popular, then they tried to make it better for a broader (console) audience by adding a cover system (ala steroids of war and duty or honor) that makes every encounter horribly predictable. Removed the crouch command, weapon heat as a tactical element of battle, and fundamental versatility you have over your character in the 1st. Deleted the wandering freedom of the MAKO to some planet scanning crap and a floaty platformer styled hover craft instead of just making more interesting places to drive to and interact with.

    Bah. Problem is I’ll still buy ME3 and DA2. I have to, I’m a fanboy who will be appeased by lazy and greedy developers while still struggling to retain that spark of independence that being a PC gamer gives us.

    • Archonsod says:

      Combat for most people consisted of spamming the same three skills/spells until everyone was dead, not helped by the fact most skill trees were a case of weak skill > medium skill > good skill. You could remove the first two and just tie the effect in to the character’s level and there’d be no difference. Of course, it would be much nicer if they actually made every skill useful in some way so there actually were options, but as the system stands they’ve got three or four complementary skills per class that you want to develop based on preferred style, and everything else becomes redundant.

      Character creation is a non-issue. You can tweak your starting attributes, but since you can then pump points into whatever you fancy when you level up there’s no real difference between them. Just let us pick a short Hawke or a lanky pointy eared Hawke and again, zero difference. It was the origins that separated the characters, not the system.

  30. JacobsGladedage says:

    Isn’t it worth noting that ME2 didn’t release on the PS3 unlike DAO. I know this is a PC blog and all but if you look at sites like vgchartz you can see DAO almost sold one million PS3 versions, and that’s something they aren’t getting for ME2.

    Doesn’t bother me much though, I found both ME2 and DAO to have uninteresting and generic stories, bland and soulless characters, mediocre and way too easy gameplay and some really boring side quests. Such a shame there isn’t a Black Isle around to make real games on Bioware’s engines isn’t it?

  31. Marlier says:

    You’re just confusing people with these articles. They’re remaking one or two parts of the ME2 system for DA2 and you make it sound like they’re changing the whole damn game…

  32. jon says:

    @RQH

    “There was no way to pause the game while assigning orders to your party, and no way to simply click on the portrait of the person you wanted to assign orders to. This meant you had to cycle through your party members to get to the one you wanted to assign orders to, all while the battle was still carrying on.”

    Uh, what? You can literally just push a button to bring up one of the radial menus to pause the game at any time. And you can cycle through characters while paused. And its not like cycling is an arduous task…you only ever had to push one of the should buttons a maximum of twice to get to any character lol.

    “Also, the consoles couldn’t handle it graphically.”

    Couldn’t handle it? It was just bad, graphically. It’s not like it was a game that was limited by console graphics; the game didn’t look as good as ES IV Oblivion, a launch title for the 360. It even looked a lot worse than ME2, which came out only months later.

    As for the main topic at hand…I am a definite long-time RPG fan. But honestly, ME2 was just a better game than ME1. ME1 put up an annoying and clunky facade of depth; it had lots of point-spending and stat-tradeoffs for weapons, but really you always just used the most damaging gun and the best armour at all times. Occasionally it was useful to switch ammo to suit who you were shooting. But it’s not like there was ever a reason to use Shotgun III over Shotgun IV. ME2 just took out all the dumb, unnecessary stuff that didn’t actually matter and was better because of it. It tried less hard to appear to be an RPG.

    The Mass Effect series is just not trying to be a hardcore RPG thing. People act like the transition from ME1 to ME2 was like going from Baldur’s Gate to Halo. ME is just made to be an action game with RPG elements. Bioware is not stupid and will not turn DA into an action game, because DA:O actually WAS an RPG and not a pretend one.

    You guys can fret over this rumour if you want, but as far as I’m concerned, I will trust Bioware because I’ve never been disappointed by anything they’ve done (granted, I’ve never played that Sonic the Hedgehog RPG they made).

    • karthik says:

      “ME2 just took out all the dumb, unnecessary stuff that didn’t actually matter and was better because of it.”

      ME2 took out the openness, which made the game feel much more on rails than the original. The abandoned shacks on unexplored worlds, the choice in how you entered the rift station on Noveria, the ability to do missions on your own time; these made the universe in the original seem more fleshed out than in ME2.

      Shotgun III vs Shotgun IV is a triviality; I just hit the omni-gel button and got on with the game. It’s not the inventory I (and other people who liked the original more) miss.

  33. stevehatesyou says:

    I’m willing to bet that the reason for this Hawke character is to make the development cheaper and easier, rather than trying to appeal to the ME2 crowd.

    I also wouldn’t be shocked if they were ditching the DA codebase in favour of the ME2 code, given that it produces much prettier visuals.

  34. Lyndon says:

    @Meat Circus

    Yeah but even if you don’t agree that DA:O is Bioware’s most successful game you’ve got to concede that it was tremendously successful. So in a world where “an anachronism even when at was announced” sells more than 3 million copies, why shouldn’t people make more of them?

    Saying that it’s out dated simply isn’t good enough. Clearly it’s still resonating with a large audience, clearly it’s still relevant to a lot of people.

    • Meat Circus says:

      Largely because it’s not what most buyers thought they were getting.

      if the only way you can get people to play trad stat-heavy RPGs is by a process of actively lying through your PR, maybe you have a problem.

      The utterly unrepresentative trailers from DA:O suggest full well they knew they had to portray the game as something it wasn’t to get it to sell.

    • Nick says:

      Says who, exactly? You keep saying this but you have no hard evidence at all. I have no doubt it was the case for some, but you really attribute the majority of the sales to that? I doubt it.

    • Meat Circus says:

      Basing it on three things:

      1) The PR made the game seem very different from what it was.
      2) The console version was poorly received
      3) It still sold well, so on consoles, thus implying that the misleading PR was a primary driver for those sales.

    • Psychopomp says:

      I’m sorry, a B is poorly recieved?

  35. bwion says:

    I have concerns, but I’m willing to give Bioware the benefit of the doubt, here. Specifically because of all the things they’ve announced, only one gives me any real pause, and it ain’t the fact that I’m limited to playing one general character origin. The way I was in Planescape: Torment. And the Ultima games. And the Fallout games, to a point. (You had a lot of options there, but you were always gonna be The Vault Dweller/The Chosen One Of Your Tribe/The, Er, Protagonist Of Fallout 3). And I’m sure there are others I’m forgetting. I’d mention The Witcher, but I haven’t played that yet..

    The thing about having radically different combat systems on the PC and consoles does concern me a little, just because I’m not convinced that anyone has ever done this well. From all accounts, it was necessary on the consoles, though, and as long as they don’t completely screw up the PC gameplay, I’ll be happy. (It’s not like that combat system was perfect, either.)

    As for doing the ME2 thing of importing your save from the first game and using it to set up the history of the gameworld, good. This should be the standard for sequels, and particularly given all the implications that the way you play the first game can have.

    The dialogue wheel, well, it depends. I would be displeased if we ended up with (exactly) one good and one evil choice in every conversation, color-coded for our convenience, as that would be a pretty significant misread of what was good about the first game. But if they can work out a better way to present dialogue than a simple list, good for them. And spoken dialogue for the protagonist I can take or leave, but I get that other people were bothered by playing the only mute person in Ferelden, and I certainly don’t mind having a voice actor (so long as he/she isn’t horrible).

  36. stevehatesyou says:

    “Also, as of February, EA had shipped 3.2 million Dragon Age units to retailers worldwide, y’know. That’s big. Really big.”

    And if VGChartz is to be believed, 2.52 million of that was accounted for by the console versions: http://www.vgchartz.com/worldtotals.php?name=dragon+age%3A+origin&publisher=&console=&genre=&minSales=0&results=50&sort=Total

    So you can understand why they’re concerned with making sure that it plays better on consoles.

    (This also goes to show that console gamers want deep, complex games just as much as PC gamers do).

    • Rinox says:

      Those numbers don’t include digital distribution. The sales figure for PC is probably many times the number given there.

      And it’s not that console gamers don’t want deep RPG’s, it’s just that they don’t really work on consoles.

    • stevehatesyou says:

      “Those numbers don’t include digital distribution. The sales figure for PC is probably many times the number given there.”

      I’d be surprised if the DD sales for an 8GB game were that significant… and if they were, why would they leave it out of the 3.2M number? Doesn’t really make sense to leave out a large chunk of your sales when bragging about sales numbers.

      “And it’s not that console gamers don’t want deep RPG’s, it’s just that they don’t really work on consoles.”

      Well, it sounds like that’s what Bioware is trying to fix. A large percentage of their users are on consoles, but the console versions scored significantly lower in reviews. That has to cause them some concern. So it’s no wonder that they’re developing a new combat system specifically for those platforms.

  37. kutkh says:

    Further, and something that I hope would matter to PC gamers, is the way this shafts the modding community. It’s near-impossible to build convincing new storylines or quests with a locked-down, voiced PC. It’s obvious that publishers consider modding an anachronism, but given how well supported it was in DA:O it’s a shame that the community is being hung out to dry (or at least, to make retextures and graphics tweaks until the end of days..)

  38. Jimbo says:

    Not to take anything away from the (impressive) Dragon Age sales, but I strongly suspect that ME2 would have outsold it if it had also been available on PS3. You can’t look at the sales data and conclude that one ‘direction’ is better / more successful than the other, because they aren’t like for like in terms of platform availability.

    I do think that taking two very distinct and very successful franchises and homogenizing them is a mistake. It’s a mistake regardless of whether they are moving Dragon Age toward Mass Effect, vice versa, or a bit of both.

  39. Blacktick says:

    VGChartz,lol. That is as reliable as gamespot with their reviews. :D
    There is no good place to track pc sales or console sales for that matter…NPD is only north america retail and VGChartz just takes a guess.
    Only thing we have is the info the publisher gives and even that is usually “shipped” instead of actual sales.

  40. Ashen says:

    How disappointing.

    For years they’re talking about how DA is supposed to be a spiritual successor to Baldur’s Gate and a ‘hardcore’ RPG filled with choices and consequences. Then it comes out and not only it’s reasonably good, but also sells really well.

    Now instead of doing a larger sequel based on improved mechanics from the first one (much like they did with BG2) they’re cutting features, “streamlining” experience, even apparently overhauling the art style.

  41. E-Nomad says:

    Wow Meatcircus, you sure love living in denial.

    First you had the differences in release wrong, and now you’re making the erroneous claim that buyers “weren’t getting what they were expecting”. Sure. You know, one can say the same thing about ME2 in comparison to ME1. Since ME2 relied much less on being an RPG, one could claim that buyers of the first “weren’t getting what they expected” in the second, and thus its sales figures were bolstered. See how that works?

    But ill make no such idiotic claim, like you have.

    LoL, You can not speak for the millions of buyers, all by your lonesome. The amount of excuse making you make for DA: O’s success compared to ME2′s is comical. You just cant accept that ME2 was the inferior product.

    Sales figures still put DA:O Starkly in the lead, and the console versions, though rated poorer in comparison, were not bad in and of themselves. They were often rated -slightly- lower than the PC iteration. Saying this makes it bad is hyperbole.

    Let me go ahead and rub it in.

    ME2 fared worse.

    You’d do well to get over it.

    Because no amount of whining here on an article about the game you wish had done poor, will change that reality.

    • Meat Circus says:

      I think you misunderstand me. I loved DA:O and I loved ME2. DA:O was flawed, but I still played it through twice, including Awakenings and all the DLC. And I suspect that BioWare will be delighted with the sales of both games.

      However, what you need to ask yourself is, *why* are BioWare moving Dragon Age 2 into a Mass Effect mould, if they believed that Dragon Age: Origins was the superior game?

      Also, why did BioWare feel the need to misrepresent DA:O in its PR, if they thought there was demand for its true nature?

  42. 1stGear says:

    Hey, guess what, only those filthy consoles are getting the different combat system and the PC version is keeping the same badly flawed tactical mage combat from DA:O.

    http://kotaku.com/5585473/dragon-age-2-following-in-mass-effects-footsteps

    And I suggest you read the article instead of just looking at the headline and continuing to scream about how the sky is falling and looking like an idiot.

  43. Sidorovich says:

    So I can import my save from DA: O, but I can’t continue to play as my character? But I spent hours crafting my bald dwarf assassin, and now I’ll never see him again?? There goes any incentive to actually finish the first game then….

    Maybe if I get to hear about my old character’s legendary exploits from passing npcs in DA2 that’ll make up for it (or meeting my first creation as an end-of-level boss in the sequel would be kinda cool), but this seems a MASSIVE oversight by EA/Bioware. Whose going to be rushing to out to buy the sequel if they can’t directly carry over their character?!

    • Jeremy says:

      I think what BioWare is trying to do here is tell the story of a “world,” rather than a character. Mass Effect is all about Shepard and his impact on the universe, where Dragon Age is all about the world, and how certain characters have impacted it. These are the same complaints that people have leveraged at the Wheel of Time series of books, where they wanted more Rand time, but instead were given the grander story of the world and the characters in it and how they impacted the world. I never expected to see my character again anyway (not a justification), because of certain choices that were made. However, for those who made the OTHER choice (first of all, shame on you), I can’t imagine BioWare is dumb enough to ignore that character’s existence and impact on the world. I don’t think they have lost sight of their goal with Dragon Age, but perhaps they could have been more clear about what they were trying to accomplish.

      Think about it, if Dragon Age is all about “The Warden” then as soon as that character is dead, a king, retired, etc., then the world has no more purpose. The story is done. I know what you’re thinking though… “Well, when Shepard’s story is done, they can make more Mass Effect titles” and that may be true, but I don’t think people will really care about anything else that goes on in that universe. At least never as much as they ever cared about Shepard. I think it’s a bit of a gamble, but if BioWare can pull it off and sell us on the fact that Dragon Age is about the Age and not about that first character we all created in Origins, then I think we could have ourselves a truly epic story, and a connection to something far greater than a simple character.

    • Archonsod says:

      Yup, it sounds like usual Bioware fare. You can read it as “Last game we had the Origin gimmick, this game we’re shooting for Epic Saga gimmick. Next game we’ll probably experiment with Dwarven ballet”

      Oh, they’re changing the combat on the consoles to something that actually works, and going for a single specific hero rather than giving you a wide open one but that seems to be it.

      Same old Bioware in other words.

    • Jeremy says:

      You sound like a spurned boyfriend. Please come to terms with reality, you were not dating BioWare, and they did not break up with you.

    • Klaus says:

      However, for those who made the OTHER choice (first of all, shame on you)

      If I want to have strange magical sex with a morally ambiguous witch, then is between that witch and myself. (Or the person I forced into it.)

    • Jeremy says:

      You tramp!

  44. 7 Seas says:

    Is the budget for DA2 smaller than for DA:O? Or at least the word budget? A dev seems to suggest so here:

    Regardless, I’m also not sure how you picture a budget being allocated. It is not “okay 30% goes to gameplay now instead of 20%” or anything like that. If the budget overall for a project is smaller, the budget that goes towards our word count is smaller.

    From: http://social.bioware.com/forum/1/topic/127/index/1761467&lf=8

    Maybe they didn’t make enough money on it to cover the massive marketing spend they must have had?? Or they expect a sales lashback this time because of the “false” advertising that console players may feel they experienced?

    RPS, would you mind digging into that and finding if the DA2 budget IS in fact smaller than DAO, despite the sales numbers?

    • Jeremy says:

      No, I read that thread and I didn’t get the impression that they’re shrinking the word budget at all. He was just responding to a specific question by explaining that the budget is not allocated how we think it might be allocated. The second to last response says that they aren’t cutting the budget, but rather they want to use that budget more efficiently. Which I completely support!

      I know that conversation is a really scary thing to touch for most people, we like to choose between 5 very wordy choices, but I think they are really trying to make the conversations happen more naturally and be more involved in the actual story, aka the dreaded word “streamline” which should in fact be a good word :) The more things that happen naturally within the context of a story, the better. For me, there was a strong disconnect between the “story” and stopping in camp and visiting each person to ask them 20 random questions apiece so that I could just learn about them outside of the context of the actual story. It was abnormal and unnatural. That isn’t how things happen in reality, and I think it’s a bit of a dated mechanic when it comes to dialogue trees. This is one thing I am actually completely in favor of BioWare changing.

  45. Jockie says:

    The biggest issue for me by far is the changes to conversation, as much as I liked Mass Effect 2 the paragon/renegade/pointless system is totally at odds with the more clouded morality of Dragon Age. I hope they don’t try and shoe-horn some kind of alignment system into the game that encourages you to pick the same options in every conversation for bonus points.

  46. Kevin says:

    Maybe devs should stop assuming that the larger part of their player-base were complete idiots.

    If players couldn’t comprehend gameplay mechanics beyond shooting people in the face in a dime-a-dozen FPS, how do you explain the success of games like Starcraft and Civilization? Sure they aren’t exactly sub-sims like Dangerous Waters or Silent Hunter, but they do involve in-depth knowledge of the mechanics, finesse, and nuance in order to play competently.

    On that subject, I think back to Alec’s thoughts on ArmA II: “A bit like being beaten up by a very large man, but enjoying the challenge of it.”

    And on console players being disappointed by Dragon Age, my cousin who is by all accounts a casual console player and did observe the marked difference between the final product and its marketting did thoroughly enjoy the game, to the point that when I finally convinced him to buy a better computer in order to play the infinitely superior PC version, we began discussing things like experimenting with different character builds and AI tactics.

  47. Hoernchen says:

    The only thing left is to have faith in bioware – remember the misguided me2 and da ads ? Afaik bioware has never produced a really bad game so far…

  48. malkav11 says:

    I’m tempted to go through and post that Dragon Age and Mass Effect were both superior to Mass Effect 2 every time Meat Circus asserts the contrary, with about as much evidence (maybe more), but that would be childish.

    • Meat Circus says:

      I see no reason to preface every time I express a subjective viewpoint with “in my opinion” mainly because I don’t think other readers are idiots.

      When I say Mass Effect 2 is a better game than Dragon Age: Origins, what else would it be but my opinion?

      Some people. Tsk.

    • Psychopomp says:

      “BioWare correctly realises that Mass Effect 2 was the better game than DA:O” is not something you say when you’re trying to be subjective.

      Troll harder, Meat.

  49. Christian Otholm says:

    Well, I’m looking forward to it. Far more now actually. I’m not 18 anymore, I can’t waste my time playing games where I spend as much time paused as I do playing. As the comment section confirms some people really enjoy this, but if I want to tool around with massive inventory tetris and stats, I’ll play actual pen and paper games.

  50. Nate says:

    I am gonna miss my Dwarf. DAO had really neat Dwarven culture, my two favorite origins were the Dwarf stories (tho City Elf was probably tied for 3rd with Human Noble).