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 Dragon Age  Producer: Dedicating Resources To Distinguishing PC, Console Versions 'Paid Off'
Dragon Age Producer: Dedicating Resources To Distinguishing PC, Console Versions 'Paid Off'
March 8, 2010 | By Chris Remo

March 8, 2010 | By Chris Remo
More: Console/PC

Despite being a three-system game, BioWare's Dragon Age: Origins had much clearer platform differentiation between console and PC SKUs than most modern games do -- and online producer Fernando Melo tells Gamasutra that effort has "really paid off" in the game's commercial success.

"When we originally started talking about Origins before it came out, there were a lot of questions about, 'Is the PC market dead?'" Melo recalled.

But despite those concerns, the PC version of the game "is doing really, really well," he said, adding, "It was really a surprise."

"I think the market was always there," Melo said. "Perhaps the idea of taking a console game and porting it back to PC wasn't working, but something like this -- which was built first for a PC audience -- I think thatís really paid off."

Of course, that applies to console platforms as well, Melo stressed. "We invested quite a lot of time making sure that it made for a good console game as well, as opposed to just doing a port," he noted, "because the same is true both ways."

Melo said digital distribution was also a key factor in the game's success on the PC. "That has helped quite a bit," he said. "Itís done very well on there."

That claim is supported by statements made by EA in its recent quarterly financial results. The publisher said its digital distribution business grew 30 percent year-over-year to reach a high of $152 million for the quarter.

But perhaps more than any of those factors, Melo believes Dragon Age's success was driven by the core philosophy of the development team.

"We always felt very strongly about this kind of game, and I think we were going to make it regardless," he recently told Gamasutra. "What this has shown is that people love great story; people love good games of any fashion. It's really helping the team to validate that, yes, this is something people want."

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Michael Will
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What it shows is that developers know gamers better then publishers know gamers and, despite spending a little more money, if you let proven developers do what they do best everybody gets paid.

EA seems to have learned their lesson, hopefully those bozos at Activision will come around as well.

Joshua Sterns
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Glad to see someone is finally listening to the PC gamers in regards to ports.

Dave Endresak
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Surprise? I can't see why anyone would be surprised by PC software success, especially if a construction set is offered. Bethesda knows this quite well, after all, so it seems odd to be surprised.

However, with DA:O, there is another factor that helps PC version sales. Specifically, the console version has some very serious bugs that still have not been patched (at least, not as of a couple weeks ago when I got rid of my 360 version for the PC version... I beat the 360 version on Nightmare, but the bugs killed any desire to replay). The tactics system is pretty much broken as shipped, for example, but even more important is the fact that the command menu is broken for the Rogue class due to not properly counting traps plus other items. You wind up not being able to use anything but the first screen even though other stuff is in inventory to be used. Bioware agreed with users on their forum when the bug was pointed out there, but that was back when the game first shipped. Of course, the console version was handled by Edge of Reality so it's not only Bioware's problem, but it certainly makes them look bad in the eyes of consumers when this type of thing happens and no patch fixes it promptly.

Mods can fix some of the problems on PC, of course, so that's why some people have simply switched to the PC version. But not everyone can do that, unfortunately.

Fiore Iantosca
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" beat the 360 version on Nightmare, but the bugs killed any desire to replay)"

The 360 version of DA was terrible from friends told me and what I read, with regard to the graphical issues and bugs. I opted for the PS3 version which had LESS issues but still had issues. Of course the PC version had none of the console problems. What the hell did they do with this game to result in all these problems?

I am willing to bet it would have been a larger success on the consoles if they got rid of the issues.

Chris Melby
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Hurray, common sense is finally returning to the industry. I swear, it seems as if some developers were taken over by brain-slugs these past few years.


You say switch, as if the PC version wasn't the first choice for many, but most of the guys I know bought the PC version over the console version, because it was clearly the better version all around.

I imagine there's a small percentage of guys like you that have switched to the PC, or even the PS3 do to bugs, but I can't see it as being a big impact on PC sales.

I have to ask. I played the PC version through on nightmare, how does the console's difficulty compare? The friend I know that played it on his 360 did so on easy, I called him a wuss. :)

Bart Stewart
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I look forward to seeing how these financial results get internalized at BioWare, and at EA.

Will their other titles receive similar PC-specific treatment from the ground up?

Andrew D
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It is great to see games which have obviously had the interface properly thought out for the platform. This is something a suprisingly large number of developers don't seem to understand. I don't care if the PC version and the console versions were developed seperately if your interface designers didn't get the message the end will still be a mess.

I still remember the Shadowrun PC version which had Xbox 360 controller buttons in the menus and an interface with visual cues intended for a user of a controller rather than a keyboard. They told the community it was not a port but the interface clearly was not built for the PC version.