From Idea to Product
Sanshee, the awesome people responsible for the Elcor plushies and Grey Warden shirts, ran through how products go from fantasy to reality.
- Pitch - Someone comes up with an idea, followed by either a written description or art.
- 1st Party Feedback - Idea is sent to Bioware, who will approve or reject the idea. For merchandise, the Executive Producer and Art Director are the main approvers. For entertainment, the Executive Producer and Head Writer handle approvals.
- Reiteration - Both the partner and Bioware will go back and forth, revising the concept
- Licensing Approval
- It becomes a thing!
- We do this to make you happy
- We want to grow our franchises with quality products
- We can't be a time or financial burden to the game team
Learning from Feedback
Bioware and its partners, like Sanshee and Treehouse, all rely on feedback. Many of the products in the Bioware store today were directly influenced by the feedback from Bioware's merchandise forums, over Twitter, and the Bioware base panels. More female fashion designs were implemented, while others were declined (e.g. the "busty" Liara bishoujo statue). Bioware is still investigating how to get the Dragon Age Keep art on products, and more plushies are on the way.
Although the partners can't always fulfill requests for different shirts and merch, as some aren't feasible and others are on hold (even 13 pages of them on Sanshee's side), they always appreciate feedback in order to make products better. Sanshee says that they "never want you to stop giving opinions" on what they should make. Bioware feels the same. Not every piece works with everybody's taste, but Bioware wants the entire spectrum fulfilled so each fan walks away happy.
(Matter of fact, Bioware is looking for opinions on what kind of high-end books fans are interesting in buying. Currently these exist: strategy guides, art books, novels. What are you interested in? Ping @bioware with your answer on Twitter!)
If you're interested in providing feedback, the teams at Bioware still check the Merchandise forum on Bioware. You can also poke at Chris Bain @chrisbainevery1 or contact the partners (e.g. @TeamSanshee).
"Uber" Edition of Mass Effect: Andromeda
Did you buy (or try to buy) the Inquisitor edition of Dragon Age: Inquisition? It wasn't pretty. Backordered, too many pieces, and limited distributors. For Andromeda next year, Bioware aims to do better. Mass Effect: Andromeda will have an "Uber" edition for its game that will concentrate on having one big, flagship piece instead of 16 tiny ones.
Currently, they are selecting partners that they can trust to create an out-of-the-park product and work with many specialty retailers. Also, they are investigating ways where digital users wanting collector editions won't be penalized for playing digitally. Instead, a method where a digital key is acquired immediately and the remaining loot is shipped.
Questions and Answers
International Shipping, or lack thereof
Yes, it's awful. Sadly, there's little to be done about it. Sanshee is currently in talks to negotiate rates, but "there's only so much wiggle room". International shipping out of the United States is something that only can be remedied by economies.
As far as why Monopoly: Mass Effect, it only exists in North America because Hasbro has it licensed in North America.
Legendary and the Mass Effect Movie
Chris Bain describes it as "convoluted" and "it takes a lot of time" in order to get the movie up and running. I'd say it's probably safe to not expect anything in the near future.
Dragon Age Novel
A new dragon Age novel, that has not been announced yet, is being worked on. Personally, I believe this is the same one that David Gaider (former Dragon Age lead writer and current lead writer on the new Bioware IP) referenced Fenris in a new book.
Bioware wants to make it easy as possible to help people create cosplay, art, and other works. They do not wish to monetize off that drive, so they prefer to provide the references instead.