Former BioWare Montreal developer, Manveer Heir, worked on Mass Effect: Andromeda, specifically tackling the “three Cs”: character mechanics, combat mechanics, and the controls. He exited the studio under controversial terms after making publicly racist remarks throughout the development of the game.
During a podcast with Waypoint, Heir talked about a number of topics that you usually don’t get much insight into from other developer due to NDAs, some of which are quite alarming if you had plans on purchasing Star Wars: Battlefront II.
Manveer Heir says that the budget bloat happening in development is a problem on the publisher’s end, and that EA blew a lot of the money in irresponsible ways. Heir also points out that some of the people who were working on Mass Effect: Andromeda – that he claims were “useless” – were moved over to Motive Studios to work on Star Wars: Battlefront II.
“The issue is, is that they’re asking for these games to be made and they’re giving you this large, large budget, but where is that money going? Is it going to the salaries of the people? Is it going to the voice-over actors? Is it going to those things? A lot of it is… but a significant chunk is not.”
“If I look at what EA does, it’s just mismanagement. EA had no idea how to manage BioWare Montreal. There was poor leadership in many positions – not all, but some of the positions at BioWare Montreal. That’s part of the reason we got shut down.
“[…] So seeing the thing with Visceral, it’s the same story of: they don’t know how to handle this and they don’t know how to fire the right people. So what they do is they close down an entire studio, and then they pick people that they like and then they move them over. The problem is that they pick people who were part of the problem and move them over. There are people right now working at Motive working on the Star Wars: Battlefront game who I know to be useless and to not have done a good job on Mass Effect: Andromeda. Why are they continuing to have jobs and getting things? Is it because they’re white and a man? Possibly.”
“Because my brown ass got a talking to all the time for speaking up like this.”
This definitely raises questions about the quality of the game if the same people who destroyed Mass Effect: Andromeda have any sort of significant role in Star Wars: Battlefront II’s development. In fact, based on the way BioWare Montreal was run, no one from that studio should be anywhere near another Frostbite-powered game. But then again, DICE and EA did bring in a known member of the GameJournoPros and an outed Social Justice Warrior to work on the game story, Mitch Dyer.
A combination of incompetent developers and SJWs helming the story makes for a powder keg of potential disaster.
Nevertheless, before diving off the deep end into Social Justice Warrior topics and blaming whites for the story about galactic colonialism in Mass Effect: Andromeda, Heir also talked extensively and thoroughly about the current business models that publishers use to fleece gamers.
Manveer Heir actually makes some extremely good points about game development, including poking a complete hole in the whole “video game budgets are increasing” lie. He openly says that there should be a space for $100 million games and for smaller budget single-player titles, but publishers don’t want to make smaller games because big publishers like Activision and Electronic Arts don’t care about the players, nor do they care about making good products. Big publishers care about keeping people coming back for more to spend money on microtransactions and monetary systems with residual payment hooks, such as loot boxes, virtual perishables, and limited-use boosts.
He goes on to say…
“Why is $60 the only way to sell a game? Is it that way because EA and Activision chose for it to be that way?
“They could still make a $50 game if they wanted; they could still make a $40 game if they wanted.”
Heir explains that studios use the $60 plus microtransaction model because of the amount of money those microtransactions bring in, and keeping people fooled into thinking that budgets are rising and that prices must rise and that microtransactions are mandatory to stay afloat is one of the ways they trick gullible gamers into thinking that the AAA business model has to be that way.