When BioWare incorporated in 1995, the cofounders Greg Zeschuk and RayMuzyka were still moonlighting as medical practitioners – or were possibly doctors moonlighting as game designers. The studio they founded now has over 1000 employees, and solid reputation for crafting high-quality, immersive experiences as effectively the role-playing game (RPG) arm of Electronic Arts.
Since EA folded Virginia’s Mythic Entertainment into Bioware in January 2009, it has also been the de facto home of massively multiplayer online (MMO) gaming for EA. However, ‘The Old‘, which saw its last player-testing “beta weekend” opened last Saturday, is the first MMORPG that BioWare have developed rather than inherited. Years in the making – the mouth-watering cinematics that introduce the game date back to 2008 – and with a team peaking at over 200 developers at BioWare’s Austin studio, estimates of the development cost have ranged from $80 million to a hyperbolic $150 million (note that EA registers research and development as an operating expense). Include the costs of production and marketing, and we are definitely looking at nine figures to bring the game to market.