At this year’s Havencon, an LGBTQ-centric gaming convention, a Dragon Age panel revealed information about the series’ development, and the status of developer Bioware at the time of its acquisition by EA in 2007.
The panel consisted of both current and former Bioware employees, including Dragon Age lead writer Patrick Weekes, Bioware’s lead editor Karin Weekes, and David Gaider, ex-lead writer of the Dragon Age series. According to a Reddit thread by user ArcherAnders, who was present at the panel, the developers claimed Bioware would have gone under had EA not acquired the studio, claiming that it had “essentially run out of money at that point.” The company had just released the original Mass Effect on Xbox 360, which had been published by Microsoft, and was developing the original Dragon Age. Despite the acquisition, the Bioware employees at the panel claim EA has a hands-off approach to the studio’s development, saying representatives “rarely push for anything specific or tells Bioware what not to do.”
Along with revealing information on Bioware and EA’s relationship, the panel revealed that costs for in-game romantic routes, a staple of Bioware’s Dragon Age and Mass Effect franchises can cost up to half a million or a million dollars of any game’s budget due to variations in voice acting, writing, and animation. Specific instances that are most costly are for routes accessible for multiple genders and player character species, such as Iron Bull from Dragon Age: Inquisition, who can be pursued by either gender and up to four species. According to the panel, Bioware has to be selective with the romance routes it develops, as these aren’t considered “core pieces” or content that is seen by all players.
Other statistics the panel had to offer were regarding Bioware’s internal data for same-sex relationships, specifically targeting criticism that the addition and focus on them was ‘fan-pandering.” According to Gaider, Zevran, a bisexual party member in Dragon Age: Origins was originally meant to be a gay-exclusive romance option, but it was believed that gay men were the “smallest percentage of players.” However, according to the studio’s findings, more people engaged in a same-sex relationship with party member Leliana than collectively played the game’s rogue class and said that if fans thought same-sex relationships were pandering they should know it would be more economically sound to remove an entire class of characters instead.
The most recent game in the Dragon Age series, Dragon Age: Inqusition, was released in 2014. Since then Bioware has begun development on a follow-up but has yet to reveal the game in earnest. The studio is now working on Anthem, which was recently delayed to 2019.
Liked this article and want to read more like it? Check out more of Kenneth Shepard’s reviews, such as Life is Strange: Before the Storm’s bonus episode, and find out why Kenneth thinks Danganronpa V3’s ending makes a polarizing case for letting the series go!
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