I see a lot of people blaming EA. IMO Bioware had been evolving
away from their old core RPG fan base even before being acquired by EA. Despite enjoying ME1 for what it was, I saw the writing on the wall... Mass market appeal(switch to action/FPS) to replace what had been seen as a niche crowd(RPG), Cinematic experience and a voiced protagonist to replace meaningful gameplay, C&C and thus a reduced player agency, ect ect.
It is impossible to create an engaging cRPG(personally any genre for that matter) when the game's primary focus is cutscenes and featuring a voiced Protagonist. The cinematic approach to video games comes at the expense of gameplay and player agency. Imagine having your choice of a protagonist from a pool of multiple races(even species), gender(s), classes/archetypes, factions and backgrounds/histories(god forbid full party creation on top of that) -> now imagine that the game offers a branching/elastic narrative(plot and subplots included) with multiple solutions(speech/skill checks, stealth, combat, environment, ect) to various plot related dialogue and/or encounters where the consequences of the player's choice(s) have more than just an immediate effect/happenstance but potentially unforeseen long term consequences with further branching/forking/opening up of dialogue and non-dialogue choices later... A Cinematic experience and all that it entails is anathema to traditional cRPGs(and IMHO the evolutionary path they should be on), and while not necessarily related to RPGs, emergent gameplay. Bioware games have been trending towards action heavy interactive movie status... That's fine for some but for others not so much. Though only tangentially related(player agency), look at the confusion Arkane's Dishonored generated due to it's lack of hand holding, a gamer generation incapable of thinking outside the box.
Bioware's zeal to break into a larger market led to cannibalization of their older established fan base. In truth EA is a perfect fit for the current/new Bioware - Cookie cutter carbon copies with updated veneers, sounds like a bright future inside EA sports
, erm Bioware. The aforementioned is just a joke, and FWIW I'm not really upset. The truth is Bioware is simply courting legitimate target audiences that either enjoy linear actiony interactive movies with awesome buttons or FPS/multiplayer. As a business that is their pejorative
prerogative, I would imagine it is easier to create such games -> quicker to market(albeit costlier or at the same input cost; cutscenes, VO and multiplayer are not cheap). I think their greatest mistakes while courting this new target audiences has been an egregious reuse of resources(DA2 specifically) and underestimating the player base's desire for continuity(specifically ME series). Their handling of the "ending" issue left a lot to desired as well, almost as if they were mocking or taking for granted their fans with appeals to artistic integrity and the eventual extended cut. On the whole their transition to shooter in ME3 and foray into multiple player seems to have been successful.
Let's be honest, Bioware is in business to make games that they sell to consumers to generate a profit... They are not in business to make enough money so they can continue making games for their loving
fans. They need to be able to take their lumps, learn from the feedback and make a game their target audience/consumer market desires and enjoys. Goodwill/faith is difficult to build and easy to crush.
To the fans that long for a more traditional cRPG experience, there have been/are/will be plenty of kickstarter projects worth backing... Heck a true successor to the Infinity Engine games(Eg BG, IWD, PST) is in the works now - Project Eternity
.Edited by MasterKromm - 10/1/12 at 10:34am