Q: So you're saying you wouldn't change anything with BioWare, and that means you're completely happy with how the EA acquisition turned out also?
Oh yeah, for sure. I think there were a lot of factors to consider in that as well. I think when you look back at the timing, it was right before the gigantic financial collapse, and we were part of a private equity company at the time, so if you look at it from a purely analytic perspective things could've turned out a lot worse. And I really enjoyed my time at EA. It's interesting, people make a lot of assumptions about us and our feelings and how they treat people, but honestly we were treated really well. I made a lot of friends there, and I respect the people there are ton.
The biggest thing for me, really simply, is I got to see the inner workings of how a big company worked because I never worked at one. Ray and I were doctors and entrepreneurs, and so we'd never worked for a big company. We saw it through this keyhole as we worked with big publishers, but we never understood how it worked from the inside. Being on the inside was really interesting because I like business a lot; we were also very fortunate to have a lot of influence at high levels within EA. At the end of the day, part of it for me was that I'm really not much of a company guy; I prefer working with a small creative team on something that can have a big impact but I prefer not to do it in a giant, complicated environment.
Q: Do you feel that BioWare's games were ever made to conform to some homogenous EA standard with things like forced multiplayer, micro-transactions, smart phone spinoffs, etc.? Did any of this make you jaded? Or you reject this notion?
No, I definitely reject it. And I can explain it too. The best analogy I use, in a positive way, is EA gives you enough rope to hang yourself. It was really interesting because we really made all the choices we wanted to make ourselves; these are all things we wanted to try. And that's something to remember - while we were independent we didn't have quite the resources we had as part of EA, and then we got to EA and it was like "wow we can do all this stuff." We had to be really thoughtful about what we wanted to focus on.
I remember this really distinct moment where - it was probably five or six months - we were just starting to wrap our head around how we worked with the company. And it took months for this formal period of joining EA, and learning how everything works, and when the initiation was done, we were sitting around asking how do we do stuff. It dawned on us, you just do it. That was the biggest revelation, that rope that EA gives you; they don't second-guess you, they don't say you shouldn't do that. We had complete creative control over a lot of it; some fans didn't like some of it and some of it was experimental, quite frankly.
The one caveat is at the end of the day for any company you have to run a profit, so you have to be thinking of things that actually make you profitable. So while you're taking all these creative risks in trying crazy stuff you almost have to simultaneously focus on the bottom line. The top line is not enough. In some ways, being independent I would say we had to be more conservative - being part of a big company, you could be more aggressive and try stuff. I think that's something people [struggle with] when they join EA; they do too much or they do too little.