Former BioWare boss expounds on EA’s role in substudios and business models

Everybody loves to dump on EA for wrecking companies like BioWare and escalating microtransactions and lockboxes to ludicrous heights, but is it warranted? Kotaku recently spoke to former BioWare studio boss Aaryn Flynn for the skinny.

“I think there’s this perspective among gamers – angry gamers – that EA comes along and buys studios and ruins them, or EA is forcing microtransactions,” Kotaku suggests. But Flynn isn’t having any.

“I think they are a great company to be a part of because they care very much about the creative process – they care about that – so they want you to be successful, and they will do whatever they can to help you be successful. Every company’s got constraints […] but they are excellent at giving creative freedom for sure.”

Later, Flynn further says there’s “no mandate” in EA to buy up studios and shut them down, as this would be stupid, but that he’s certainly noticed the pattern; he just thinks it’s more about the speed of the industry and turnover in the studios themselves.

And what about lootboxes? Flynn quickly rejects the idea that EA is forcing its substudios to inject lockboxes into every crevice of its games, simply noting that EA’s business plan is “ambitious” and not particular controversial in and of itself.

You can listen to the whole podcast on Kotaku; YouTuber YongYea has some of the salient bits pulled out with analysis if you just want the short version.

Source: Kotaku via YongYea via setsua
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Kickstarter Donor

I doubt he is going to crap on EA since no one would hire him if he went off on his bosses.

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Does he play the same games? or just after his job back?

Kevin McCaughey

Yea I was thinking exactly the same thing. How can he not see what is in front of his face, even more so than most people. My guess is he does not play games any more.

Jeremiah Wagner

Actions speak loader than words. EA has turned game after game into shallow piles of crap all geared towards basic casual gamers. They have set the highest prices they can on games along with adding scam loot boxes and pay to win garbage so they can suck every single dollar out of us while doing the littlest amount of work possible. They had Dice re-skin Battlefield into a Star wars game instead of building a great game from the ground up even though they charged a price that should be charge for a game built from the ground up. They destroy everything that gaming is supposed to be so they can get rich.

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If EA is evil incarnate, and small studios are victims get slain by EA, then why studio bosses sell their company to EA? If you think about it then it’s not surprising that this guy assumes his position about EA. If studios are in good financials, and care about creative independence more than pure money from buyouts, then I have to guess that they won’t choose to sell to EA.

All fluffs aside, EA’s cardinal sin is to make new games of existing IP less fun than their predecessors. No amount of unofficial PR and loyalty pledges of this guy will change my perspective of the loss of fun I personally observed in Dead Space and Mass Effect franchise, so that’s two “fuck you EA” I’d like to shove to his face for him to chew on, and to accept EA makes some shit games, and we gamers know it.

Dug From The Earth

Imagine that.. A person who was at the corporate top, who is oblivious/ignorant of the things that went on/go on under them.

2 different worlds.

Axetwin .

Of course there isn’t a mandate to buy studios to shut them down. I’ve never seen anyone suggest this. What they DO do on the other hand is buy a studio, and then force the studio to start mass producing products catered to the lowest common denominator and when said product fails to perform the way EA hopes, THEN they shut down the studio. Bioware is one more Mass Effect Andromeda away from being shut down themselves.

Jacobin GW

Keep drinking the company kool aid my man. All the spin in the universe will not change lived experience.

Caley Kastigen

It’s painfully hard to take a great deal of what he says at face value just because we all assume he still wants to work in the industry and you don’t slag off your potential employers or even rivals without some real reason.

So yes EA are the evil powers that be and sadly its not like they haven’t earned that reputation .(lockboxes, studio closures, going for the greed etc, god awful pr)

I actually find it hard to think of anything positive, I mean seriously when has there been much of a pro-EA article? It does seem like EA have reached the point where whatever they do as bad is vilified to the extreme and what they do as good is “meh they should do that anyways”.

Bryan Correll

My first thought just from the headline was “I wouldn’t bash EA if I wanted a career in game design.”


Exactly. One of the first things you learn in the world is to not go around bad mouthing ex employers. That just tells any future employers that you will do the same thing to them whenever you are no longer with them.

IronSalamander8 .


I know EA is a popular punching bag but with good reason. So many solid studios shut down by their insatiable appetite. As posted earlier here this reads as if Flynn really wants to keep working so isn’t going to bad mouth EA in fear of his career.

For those that played in the Commodore 64’s heyday you’ll remember how great EA was back then. They had an amazing stable of games (Archon I & II, M.U.L.E., Mail-Order Monsters, Adventure Construction Set, etc.) and great attitudes but they’ve become hated for good reason. I just don’t find this credible in face of the evidence we have. As someone who deals with SPC for watching trends and stability of the manufacturing process we see a pattern here because there is one!


No surprise that a former vice president of BioWare would speak nicely of their parent company that owned them. He needs to not piss people off if the wants to keep working in the industry. I’m pretty sure he would say EA gave people hugs daily if it meant he can get a good recommendation and considerations for future employment positions.

It’s all political business.


this! he doesn’t want to speak negatively about them. its in bad taste to trash who you work for, just like any job.