I had a chance to read through an interesting thread on the website Hold The Line which explored the question used as the title for this post. The creator of the thread, iggy456, felt that the BioWare brand is tarnished and will die off in a few years. It’s an interesting question. Video game companies die all the time. Will the same thing happen to BioWare?
I don’t know. I don’t know how they are doing financially. If a company isn’t doing well financially, chances are, they will go out of business pretty quickly. BioWare’s finances aren’t exactly public knowledge, so trying to figure out if they will live or die based on their finances would be difficult. There are other ways to approach this, however. I know EA purchased them a few years ago. So if they live or die…. it’s EA’s call.
So, let’s play pretend for a moment. Let’s pretend we own EA. What reasons would we have to close BioWare? Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. But keep your fan-tendencies in check for now and think like a business person. You would only let BioWare live if they could make you money. If they are costing you money, you close them. The best way to figure out if they can make you money is by looking at how their games have sold so far.
The data is taken from vgchartz.com.
- Jade Empire (2005) – 700,000
- Mass Effect (2007) – 3,880,000
- Sonic Chronicles, Dark Brotherhood (2008) – 860,000
- Dragon Age: Origins (2009) – 4,380,000
- Mass Effect 2 (2010) – 4,610,000
- Dragon Age II (2011) – 2,170,000
- Star Wars: The Old Republic (2011) – 2,600,000
- Mass Effect 3 (2012) – 4,830,000
If I were EA, I’d look at the numbers and be pretty happy with BioWare. The bread and butter games for EA comes from their EA Sports line: Madden and the like. These games can sell around 4 million copies each. Since 2009, when EA purchased the company, BioWare has created games that consistently sold over 2 million copies. That seems like a good benchmark for a company to reach. And considering their worst selling game was rushed to distribution (Dragon Age II), it seems like BioWare games sell fairly well.
Some of those numbers may be a bit deceiving, like with Mass Effect 3. Mass Effect 3 sold less than 3 million copies on the Xbox 360 and less than 2 million on the Playstation 3. Sales were abysmal on the Wii U, though most games sales are terrible on that system. Though the games did average at best on individual systems… taken together… we get higher numbers. Will this make EA see BioWare any differently? Doubtful. If I were EA, I’d be quite happy with those numbers.
Will BioWare die? Eventually. Every company will eventually go under. Will they die in the near future? I’m going to say no. The next BioWare game will come out in 2014. They are going back to what made them successful in the first place (expansive worlds, choices that matter in the development of the story, great gameplay) and moving away from their artistic integrity bullsh*t (they are showing they listened to fan feedback/criticisms on Dragon Age II). As long as the sales for Dragon Age III can match the sales for their other hit games… over 4 million copies sold… then BioWare should be fine for the immediate future.