back to article Mechwarrior maker claims Microsoft 'destroyed' studio's culture

FASA Interactive founder Jordan Weisman blames Microsoft for "destroying" his game studio after it was assimilated into Redmond in 1999. Gamers may recognize FASA as the former creators of the popular Mechwarrior PC franchise — and a reviled Vista-exclusive shooter very loosely based on the cyberpunk Shadowrun universe. But …


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  1. asdf

    lol epic fail

    M$ does have a history of destroying the innovative culture of companies it acquires but what it shows more than anything is just what a fail the PS3 is. How can they sell less machines than the me too do it wrong king (zune, windows mobile, msn live, etc)? M$ has gutted the studios that make its exclusives but even then they have pissed off less developers than Sony. The Cell BE architecture is such a fail on so many levels even Apple passed on it. Hmm lets see lets make developers change completely how they develop software greatly increasing their costs for very little real world performance gains. Bets Sony doesn't use some specialty crap architecture for the PS4? Sad when even CUDA is even easier to code in as well as performing a hell of lot better for most tasks the Cell was supposed to excel at.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Company gets bought, said company gets pissed.

    I thought all take overs where like that anyway.

  3. Goat Jam
    Paris Hilton

    Working For Microsoft

    To be able to survive working at Microsoft, I would suggest that all candidates perform a full frontal lobotomy on themselves using nothing but a dessert spoon and duck tape.

    Once the procedure is complete, you will then fit in and feel right at home.

    Paris. She's all healed up now, hence the lack of duck tape

  4. Anonymous Coward

    It's always the way

    Remember Bullfrog? Some of the best games of the decade were made by them.

    But then EA had to ruin it for everyone and now we have a souped-up tamagotchi game in the works.

    Jolly Roger for obvious angsty reasons.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Corporate Takover and You

    A corporate takeover happens for one of two reasons. Either the buyer wants to get into the business and the company they buy does this well or they want what the company owns and couldn't care less about the business. A special case of the second reason is that the buyer wants to eliminate competition. M$ specializes in this and that is why all of the DOJ problems happened.

    I do not know what exactly happened in these cases. Perhaps the idea was to keep the Mechwarrior franchise going but what makes an OS, development, and business software company functioning does not seem to work for a gaming company. Perhaps M$ is too large to support the extreme focus a good game team requires.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Duck Tape

    It's duct tape - originally designed to seal the seams of central heating ducts. Quack, quack, quack said the OCD victim.

  7. Michael Overton

    This might have been surprising except...

    Let's face it, there are only a couple of really dominant Microsoft products, like Windows and Office, and they really lucked into those, at that. Whenever Microsoft has tried to expand into other product areas, they only succeed if they can shower it with money and cut off the oxygen supply for their competitors. They have an impressive history of mis-handling innovative companies they buy up, but then if you look at most other industries you'll see a similar pattern. Nope, nothing he says is really that much of a surprise.

  8. gollux

    Quit selling out...

    to Microsoft and you wouldn't have this problem.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    So.. don't get bought.

    Capitalism is a bitch; no shit, Sherlock.

    Don't want to loose independence? Don't get bought.

    Got screwed when bought by MS? Gee, who would have guessed that might happen?

    I'd love to know how much $$$ the former directors & board of FASA got in the buy-out. I'm certain those directors and shareholders (what is the bloody fascination about 'going public') made their decision based on the 'best interests of the comapny' rather than the 'best interests of their new cars/houses/superyachts'.

    Oh, and DUCK tape? What is that - something you use to hold ducks together?

  10. Corrine


    The mechwarrior games, post MS buyout, were some of the best in the franchise. I wouldn't be bragging about the culture that developed the crappy nearly unplayable interface of mechwarrior 2.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Takeovers always bad?

    "Company gets bought, said company gets pissed.

    I thought all take overs where like that anyway."

    Not at all. If you liked being independent, and were doing very well at it, and were taken over against your will, that's one thing. But small software houses, whether they produce games or something else, are usually living on a knife edge of success or failure, constantly worrying about whether they can get the funding to continue. Having a good product helps, but there are so many factors beyond your control, you're always wondering whether you're going to be around in a year - or even next month. Being bought by a large company can seem like the answer to your problems, they can can give you the deep pockets you need to survive whilst your product gains traction. A few years ago, the company I worked for at the time was in exactly that situation, and tried very hard (and unsucessfully) to get bought by Microsoft.

  12. nobby


    loved MW2 on my playstation (way, back before it was even called psOne).

    it had a really good feel of stomping along in a multi-ton walking machine.

    Next thing i saw was mechwarrior 4 for pc.

    it didn't work. i think its safe to say that my abiding loathing of microsoft stemmed from attempting to get this game running.

    eventually, i managed to get the patches that allowed the game to work beyond the first movie. FFS mankind how could they not notice it was fluffing broken before you could play it.

    That was in the days of 56 modem, (not even sure i had that fast a modem then), so we had hours of downloading broken patches followed by scouring of magazines looking for mention of a patch.

    Mechwarrior had a proud and noble history from its germination as a table-top wargame, it was shame to see it brought so low.

  13. raving angry loony

    selling out

    Anyone surprised? Really? FFS people, if you sell your soul to the devil, don't be fucking surprised when he collects.

  14. James 30


    Oh's a real shame that the console wars trolls always seem to get ion on this thing. If the PS3 is such a fail, and the 360 is so full of "win" then why is the PS3 only trailing by 7 million or so units? Keep in mind that this is pretty much the number that MS lead sony by, come the PS3's US launch.

    Surely if the PS3 is such a failure, Microsoft would have at least double the PS3 sales figures?

    I hate to say it.but the only people who think that the Cell architecture is difficult to work with, are mostly from sub-standard coders who somehow managed to work their way into the games industry. I've never had any issues working with the's a really nice piece of silicon, and all it takes is a little bit of planning before writing code.

    Anyhow...back on subject. It makes me wonder how the guys at Lionhead have been dealing with MS's studio raping since being taken over, as well the bunch at Rare.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Yep, I know that feeling

    My employer, until last year a ~500 strong UK-based firm that was very successful in it's niche, it currently gradually disintegrating in the belly of a huge megacorp beast. Being digested is an unpleasant process. The only surprise to me is how few people have yet seen the writing on the wall in the form of the corporate culture of our parent, and bailed out already. Why do these organisations always destroy the value of the companies they buy? As flies to wanton boys are we to the Americans...

  16. Ru

    Could be worse...

    Could have been purchased by EA.

  17. Lloyd

    Resistance is Futile. You Will Be Assimilated!

    Although Alice Krieg was far more attractive than BG.

  18. Anonymous Coward


    ...why did they sell up in the first place?

    Was it greed or desperation (can't be arsed to search)?

    They could easily of not sold up, or did the big green eyed monster prove to much?

  19. E-ver


    As a gamer I consider most MS games between "better than average" and "good".

    I've been playing Mechwarrior since Mechwarrior II and even loved Mech Commander.

    Maybe he's got some good reasons to bitch but I, as a consumer have nothing to complain about.

    On the other hand, those who made Shadowrun what it is today should burn in hell.

  20. PerfectBlue

    In Brief

    Long story short, a company with a small tight knit team of developers was able to create innovative products through a mixture of developers having lots of creative control and developers being able to work closely together. Then a big company takes over and tries to enforce policies that take all of this away, and the heart is ripped right out of the small company as is its ability to innovate.

  21. Anonymous Coward


    What the hell does this have to do with your anti-Sony prejudices?

  22. Steve Swann


    "How can they sell less machines than the me too do it wrong king"


  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Last time I spoke to some guys at Rare they said they much preferring working under Microsoft than as an independent studio.

    There reasons were you get better benefits under Microsoft, you get all the training you need, they help you along the career path you choose to do but most importantly, when they were bought by Microsoft their working hours were cut to reasonable levels (with no pay cut) - no longer did they have to deal with the horrifically long working hours the games industry is infamous for.

    So in other words, having spoken first hand to some of those working for a games studio that was independent and then taken over by Microsoft, this FASA guy's views aren't universal. I can't say first hand in the case of Lionhead, but I get the impression staff there are pretty happy too from second hand comments.

    Perhaps it's a difference between Microsoft UK and Microsoft US? Or perhaps this guy is just looking for blame at the absolute failure of his studio to produce any worthwhile games in many years. Either way, he most certainly doesn't talk for all MSGS developers.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ asdf

    Cell isn't designed for gaming, just as Bluray isn't (higher latency for dynamic data loading).

    Sony's problem was that they were overconfident in their ability to control the console market as they did with the PS1 and PS2. They saw the PS3 then as a fine opportunity to cut the production costs of some of their hardware that would be useful in other market areas - Cell for scientific computing, Bluray for home media.

    In a way it did work, they've certainly been able to drop the cost of Bluray hardware, but most of their Cell resources were sold off to Toshiba who is now selling it for what it's better suited to. The problem for them is, they lost their hold on the games market as a result.

    I guess there's a moral to this story, in the face of competition, don't assume you can take your customers for granted and use them to try and boost your other business sectors at the expense of providing them a lesser experience than if you'd provided what they really wanted - a gaming machine.

    Microsoft and Nintendo have blitzed Sony this generation because they made gaming machines, which was what people actually wanted. Sony's complacency and arrogance has been their undoing as a force in the gaming industry.

  25. Ed Blackshaw Silver badge

    Could be worse...

    ...they could have been bought out by EA.

    Oh, and asdf, that was so much of a tangent, you should go back to living under a bridge and trying to frighten billy goats.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Had some awsome games, Battletech, Aerotech, Interceptor and Shadowrun being the ones that leap off the page but also the Fantasy era game that used Shardowrun rule set was also darn good (only played that never refed it.)

    It's a shame they sold out to MS what else did they think would happen lol?

  27. kev conroy
    Gates Halo


    I think his studio died on it's ass because of the repeated flogging of a horse that was well and truly dead. Anyone over the age of ten would find mechwarrior dull.

    I'm guessing that all that Big Studio stuff like software test, code reviews and design doc approval got in the way of his "genius creative" types, but the "big wad of money" helped ease the pain for him personally.

    As for bungie, well, Halo was good, so long as you just keep the memories of the original game up to the point of "the library" level.

  28. vishal vashisht

    Not just MS

    Any company that has accountants and lawyers making the decisions will destroy any creative part of the company. Take a look at any music company or movie company, ideas go out the window and you get the same old crap being recycled.

    The games industry is indicitive of this. How many TRUELY innovative new ideas have come out in the last 10 or so years? All we get is footbal version 200, another golf game, another shoot em up or another strategy game, just nicer looking and it's called innovative because the writers have managed to shoe horn some wii controller bits in.

    You can have a go at MS for destroying the culture at FASA, which is a real shame as I lovede the Mechwarrior series on the PC, but it isnt just them. What should happen is that the board and HR, finance, etc have NO say how a creative department works in any company, this includes tech companies where engineers are doing blue sky thinking. It is the business managers who ruin a companies creativity.

  29. Paul H

    The Borg

    Who would have thought being assimilated would remove all individuality?

  30. Graham Marsden


    ... on earth did they expect?

    Big company buys up small company, small company gets subsumed by big company's structure.

    End of story.

  31. Vince Lewis 1

    Fasa's Great IP

    It is a tragidy that Microsoft now controls all of FASA's original IP. The Mechwarrior and Shadowrun universes where vast and well writen. I have many memories of their old table top RPGs and wargames.

    It is highly likely the IP will sit there and rot, and all the great games, films or TV series that could have spawned will never happen.

  32. MeowMix

    Duck tape?!

    You quack me up!

  33. Anonymous Coward

    Never mind the computer game!

    Re-release the BattleTech boardgame! Not that bastardised miniature game they call BattleTech these days. And get off my lawn, as well!

  34. g e


    I *so* want a new Mechwarrior to come out ... on XBox, unfortunately, mind you, as that's (sinfully) my gaming platform here.

    I loved that game sooo much (#2 and #3) - it taught me to lagshoot online LOL

    Have many fond memories of a guy bitching at me in the clan and challenging to numerous duels which I always kicked his arse at... he'd always pick arctic or desert to duel in... easy stuff...

    Arctic=Atlas lasered out to the max, saw his legs off from 1km away while reversing away from rockets which can never *quite* reach you when you do that.

    Desert=Firefly maxed out with miniguns literally running circles round the target firing in with all guns grouped, have that leg off!

    Ahhh.... those were the days....


  35. John Blagden
    Gates Horns


    Is anybody surprised at this?

  36. Adam West

    fasa just as guilty

    Worst thing FASA ever did was selling its IP to the likes of Microsoft. Sure they regret it now, but they doesnt help us, does it? Seeing Shadowrun get crucified in that god awful game was like getting kicked in the knackers. The Mechwarrior games have been passable, as have the Mechcommader titles, but that doesnt excuse offing your most successful IP to a company you know isnt interested in them, but the money they represent.

  37. Anonymous Coward

    @TW Burger

    Time to educate yourself then...

    "Duck tape" does exist!!

  38. DB


    In the UK Duck Tape is a popular brand of Duct Tape.

  39. Ihre Papiere Bitte!!

    Could have been much, MUCH worse....

    Any of you seen what **Capita** does to the culture of a company it assimilates??

    (shudders from repressed memories that still require therapy)

  40. Inachu

    I experienced the reverse.

    But sometimes buyouts are a good thing.

    Take the original software title "Q" it was and still is the best network network diagnostic prediction downtime tool. The lead programmer was a total jerk and still over 10 years later

    He still owes me $7 and he refuses to pay those people back for lost money.

    He did a lunchtime food run and got all the requests on paper and came back with no food and no money. I hope the new company fires him for killing the company atmosphere.

  41. Martin Lyne


    Halo looked so promising in the early days, then it went from an open-world, wildlife inhabited ring world, to a series of boring, copy-pasted corridors and outside sections with incessantly respawning enemies with the occasional view of the rest of the ringworld behind it.

    The last level was honestly the most blatantly effortless bullshit I've ever played. The buggy sections and fighting with friendly forces were the highlights.

    MechWarrior 4 is still a great game, non-cheesy FMV too.

  42. Big Bear

    @g e

    How are you getting your lasers to hit at 1km? Clan ER Large hits out to 800m, ER Large Pulse the same... unless you mean the Clan PPC? I believe it hits out to 1000m... been ages since I played anything but the MekTek version which downgraded the Clan PPC to something more sensible, though incidentally less in line with the game mechanics, as it was 15 damage for 15 heat at extremely long range (longer than LRMs IRCC).

    Of course, the new level 3 tech rules for the Jihad era have me completely befuddled... rotaries are overpowered but not too bad, but the Light/Heavy/Snub weapons... WTF?? Like Protomechs I believe they are a step too far...

    Anyway, back to the topic, FASA should've been expecting that really, but with MS's monolithic mass behind them, we might get to see the Unseen mechs again at least, which would be a silver lining!

  43. ClammyLammy

    @Kev Conroy & Nobby

    Kev Conroy drooled: "Anyone over the age of ten would find mechwarrior dull".

    So because *you* didn't like it then it's only suitable for under tens? Mr. Conroy you should really take a deep breath, we live in a modern diverse culture and I'm sure you'll find (hold on to your hat for this one) that there are people out there with interests and ideas DIFFERENT TO YOURS!!! I know! It's madness! They even let black people ride the buses now!

    Nobby lamented: "it didn't work. i think its safe to say that my abiding loathing of microsoft stemmed from attempting to get this game running."

    Sorry to hear that, all of the MW games ran fine out of the box for me. The only problem I ever had was when my mech packs disappeared and that turned out to be the fault of 3D Studio MAX installing a different version of CDilla (great that, two legit programs and their licensing screws one over).


  44. Anonymous Coward


    Please take your Ritalin and apologise to your English teacher. God damnit, that was one of the most incoherent outbursts since amanfrommars last issued a turdspurt.

  45. Owen Milton

    RE: Fasa's Great IP

    Actually there's an open source game that is attempting to be built up using the ShadowRun 4th ruleset, with (apparently) the approval of MS on the basis that it always clearly identifies it's associated with MS and is not charged for.

    MS doesn't own the rights to the tabletop RPG stuff for Mechwarrior or Shadowrun, just the software rights.

  46. elf25s

    mechwarrior series

    big bear

    been a while since i messed with either board or pc versions but weapons had been scaled down in mek tek regarding range and heat in later versions for the clans after version 2.8 i think( will have to see once i find the back up for it. reasson i seem to remeber this is because my kid bro was complaing about his mad cat weapons especially energy based weapons were adjusted). as for protos fun idea but not entierly worthles its just astep up from powered armor infantry aka toads.

    i had played all mechwarrior games on early pc , sega genesis , super nintendo, xbox(original not 360) and online mechwarrior/battletech 3025(made and owned then by EA)

    i must say that fasa did good until they sold their product and expertise to MS. most notably was the slip in quality when mechwarrior 4 series came out. wherein mechwarrior 2 and 3 you almost felt as if you were really that high in the cockpit and really had that much fire power under your finger tips with excelent customization of your ride mech 4 series made you feel as if it was scaled down fps with really crappy customization options.

    now about battletech/mechwarrior 3025 this was one of the earliest mmopg where you had achoice of factions and you earned points to get better mechs. it was made by EA and was actuly quite fathful to the mechs represented in both TRO and board games( mind you majority of beta players rarely got past 35 to 45 ton mechs before EA pulled the plug) for a game that was started when the best modems where running 56kps modems the graphics were very good and lag was almost none existent. game is not availble now due to some rights fight.

    i remebered the news quite well when fasa closed its doors and sold its rights to battletech/mechwarrior to wiz kidz and microsoft. it was a dark day for all the fans of board and pc gamers and to be honest i do not belive that franchise had really recovered.

    (btw i cannot wait to see the new reincarnation of the game on pc maybe it will be worth the wait)

  47. tom 24

    Well, as a MWM fan...

    I can say this: none of the post-MS versions of the game were what I would call "fun". And they keep trying to "fix" the game by making it "faster". Clueless.

    Mechs should be clunky and slow. Anything else is just "Robot suit anime".

  48. Painless
    Thumb Up

    MW alive and well

    For those missing these games, there is a MechWarrior 5 in the works (and not by M$). Although as a private enterprise it may take awhile to come out for real.....

    And for the AC wanting the original boardgame, that is back as well. It's by Catalyst Game Labs and can be found if you google battletech. They have done a very good job updating and expanding things.

    On a personal note, I never had a problem with any of the games. Loved them all, from MW2 to MW4 and the MechCommander's as well. Worked great, MW4 was actually the best--despite comments to the contrary, and btw I am well over 10 years old.

  49. not.known@this.address Silver badge

    A New Hope..?

    There *is* a new MechWarrior game under development that has not got Micro$oft's sticky fingers all over it. There's an "in-game video" of a Warhammer slugging it out with an Atlas - and this time, they've even got the PPC's barrels glowing from the heat!

    Here's the URL for the article over at the IGN website:

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But with Bungie...

    ...would Halo have been as successful if it hadn't have been a major Xbox launch title? Would Halo 2 and Halo 3's links with the website been have deep had Bungie not been able to work directly with the people who run Xbox Live?

    Microsoft may have managed to ruin the culture of some of the studios that it bought, but you don't know what would have happened to any of them if Microsoft hadn't acquired them.

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