Microsoft "destroyed development culture" at FASA - Weisman
MechWarrior and Shadowrun developer never had a chance claims founder - and Microsoft almost did the same damage to Bungie
FASA Interactive founder Jordan Weisman has spoken out about Microsoft's acquisition of his highly-regarded studio, saying that the corporation "destroyed" its development culture and came close to doing the same with Halo developer Bungie.
"When Microsoft bought FASA Interactive and incorporated it into Microsoft... the two reasons they bought us was, one, they wanted the catalogue of intellectual properties and, two, they felt that we had developed a really good development culture. And the reality is that, pretty much from the day we moved to Redmond, that development culture was destroyed," Weisman told GamesIndustry.biz.
"I don't think the studio ever really had a chance. It was destroyed right in the beginning."
And Microsoft came close to repeating its mistakes with Bungie, added Weisman, who was working for the corporation as creative director at the time the Chicago-based studio was acquired.
"When we were acquiring Bungie, they wanted me to sit down with the owners of Bungie and tell them how well the transition went," he explained. "And it was like - 'what planet are you guys on?' This transition did not go well. And actually I became the lead vocal pain in the ass to get things done very different for Bungie.
"I tried to convince them to leave Bungie in Chicago, but not winning that I did succeed in getting them to put them in a walled off room, which didn't follow any of the other Microsoft stuff. We were much better able to defend Bungie's culture than we were FASA's culture."
Weisman established FASA Corporation (which later became FASA Interactive) in 1980, and the company was subsequently merged with Virtual World Entertainment then acquired by Microsoft in 1999.
In 2007, FASA became one of the first studios closed by Microsoft as part of a series of cutbacks.
The reasons for this are clear for Weisman, who had already left the company to start up new venture WizKids by the time Microsoft pulled down the shutters on FASA.
They moved everybody into Microsoft's standard organisation, he said, and then changed his role so his staff were no longer reporting to him. "I was creative director for the entire group - all 300 people, not just the 60 that came with me from Chicago - so that didn't help either."
Since FASA's downfall, Weisman has successfully licensed some of his own IPs back from Microsoft and today plans to, in turn, licence them out to creative teams and publishers. The venture forms a part of his new company - Smith & Tinker - which yesterday announced it had successfully raised capital of USD 29 million to further fund its first release, Nanovor, and subsequent kids' entertainment projects.
The game designer plans to work with Vancouver-based studio Piranha Games to make a new MechWarrior title - "if we can put a deal together with a publisher - we're operating under some pretty tight restrictions of the licence that make publishing the games kind of challenging."
It's a situation Weisman admits is far from ideal.
"I guess one of the disadvantages to being old is that you outlive your children sometimes. And in this case, my children are owned by different people around the world and so it becomes a different kind of relationship."