Interview with Product Manager Nick Clifford

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Mass Effect 3 Poster by Firespray1138
Mass Effect 3 Poster by Firespray1138

Who are you and what is your role at BioWare?
My name is Nick Clifford, and I work in product marketing for EA and BioWare. I also moonlight as Commander Shepard at conventions and trade shows.
As a Product Manager it is my responsibility to work with the BioWare development team and help bring games to the marketplace. You might ask yourself, well what exactly does that entail? A lot actually. Product Marketing touches almost every aspect of a game.

It starts very early on in development. Working with the developer to realize the vision, and see it come to life. We are all Mass Effect fans here, so the team was eager to see what Casey and his team had in store for Mass Effect 3. Will we finally see Earth? What does the Illusive Man have planned? How will Shepard lead the galaxy against impossible odds? So many questions. But that’s the greatest part! All those emotional and compelling hooks are what make product marketing so exciting. We start to conceptualize the core tenants of a game. What is Mass Effect 3 all about? It’s an action-packed galactic struggle for survival against a ruthless and ancient enemy. That idea then permeates throughout our marketing campaigns. You see it in our announcement teaser that we showcased at the VGAs back in 2010, our first gameplay reveal at E3, our advertising campaigns, and everywhere else.

Really our job is all about sharing the game’s vision with the world. We want people to see how amazing this experience can be. In doing this we get the opportunity to work with many talented folks across the industry. We are responsible for creating artwork, trailers, screenshots and other assets, including the game packaging and Collector’s Edition. We work with our web team and community team to make sure that our core community (you guys!) stay engaged and happy (Thanks for reading). We work with our events team to put on exciting trade show experiences at E3, PAX, Comic Con, GamesCom, etc. It’s also our responsibility to work with press outlets such as IGN and G4 to make sure they have everything they need to create their editorial pieces and coverage. Lastly, we are responsible for creating advertising spots, notably the Take Earth Back Cinematic Trailer and the Live Action Trailer you might have seen on TV.

And yes somewhere in there I find time to wear the coveted N7 armor!

What is the best part about your job?
The best part of working on the BioWare team is the passion for gaming. I know that’s quite vague, but I love seeing ideas come together, the inception, the light bulb moment. That moment when awesome comes together. The first time I saw the omniblade in action I fell out of my chair. Same goes for when I saw Tali drunk. Emergency induction port…
It’s wonderful to see these ideas come together and form an amazing game. I get the chance to work with talented and dedicated developers, but I also get to meet the fans. Hearing your stories is what makes our jobs so rewarding. Meeting everyone at trade shows is fantastic, and I love discussing each individual way that you played through Mass Effect and Dragon Age. It all comes back to passion for gaming, we all have it and we love sharing it.

What does an average day look like for you?
No two days are the same, that’s for sure! Currently we are hard at work on Mass Effect post launch campaign. As you know we are working on the Extended Cut single player DLC and ongoing multiplayer updates. As I mentioned, we want to make sure the community stays engaged, that’s why you seeing us playing multiplayer with you, running N7 Challenge Weekends, and talking to you on the forums.
Marketing involves a lot of communication and management. We work with a lot of teams and have to make sure that everything stays well oiled. This involves a lot of coordination and planning. Mornings are usually spent talking with everyone and making sure we are all on the same page. We are always planning for upcoming content launches and events and then coordinating with teams to execute on those plans. And personally I always make it a point to play a couple rounds of MP each day.

Can you tell us about one of your proudest moments working in the gaming industry?
I jump every time I see one of our advertisements (I usually also get a call from mom). Seeing our vision realized is the most satisfying reward. Way back on Mass Effect 2 we aired our launch trailer during the NFC football championship game during the 2 minute warning. We couldn’t have asked for a better game, it was tied with two minutes left. They blew the whistle for the 2 minute warning, then cut to our trailer. It was glorious, no other advertisements were aired during that break, just ours. And it was such an emotional piece, I love that trailer. I was out with a big group of friends, and I didn’t tell any of them that the spot was airing, then it started, and the whole place went silent. It was awesome.

What’s a geeky thing about you?
I love Magic the Gathering. I have a MTG group that I play with. The Innistrad block is amazing, and it’s great to see some of the Ravnica designers back. I play a black and red vampire pump deck. It’s pretty fun!

Do you have any advice for those wishing to get into the video game industry?
I started in the industry as a QA tester. I spent about a year testing games before I made the jump to marketing (which is what I went to school for). You have to get your foot in the door, weather its testing or by making connections with people. If you have a trade such as writing, do some fan fiction, if you are an artist, draw! The way to get noticed is to show off your skills. We are always looking for talented people to join the BioWare family.

If you weren’t working in the industry, what would you be doing?
That’s a great question. I would probably open up my own brewery, which I may still do one day. I am an avid home brewer and love concocting beer recipes. I currently have a Tripe IPA (India Pale Ale) fermenting right now.

What are you currently playing, reading, or listening to?
o Currently playing: Fez, Mass Effect 3, League of Legends, and Witcher 2.
o Currently reading: The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicles, Day 1)
o Listening to: For the Fallen Dreams, Lucero, and Skrillex. That’s an odd mix now that I look at it.

 

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Author: BioWare Community Team

BioWare Community