Bioware did it when EA bought them.
Didn't a bunch of the core Bioware team--writers, leads, etc.--leave after EA bought them? I mean, Jade Empire and 3/4 of Mass Effect were prior to EA and they both show a *LOT* of that "dumbed down" stuff that you think EA forced on them.
Yes, absolutely. I made some researchs in the past, and what i understood is that the 2 remaining funders of Bioware agreed with EA buying them. They both quit Bioware several years ago. And a lot of people from the original Bioware quit over the years after EA bought them. It almost seems liike the 2 remaining co funders saw a way to make cash, and started to dumb down their games (did not play Mass Effect, but Dragon Age: Origins is still a good example of game developed before EA). I could even add to help your point that EA renamed numbers of random studios they owned across the world "Bioware XXX" while none had anything to do with Bioware, just to cash on the studio's name (like The remnants of Interplay tried to cash on the Black Isle name not so long ago (it was so pitiful though..)). And hence, a good part of the crap Bioware sell nowadays is actually not actual Bioware work. But Inquisition is. And still, it's not even comparable to what the already somewhat crappy Origins was. Inquisition had a lot more of the dumbed down features i mentionned than Origins. At the very least, it's hard not to notice that EA made no good to the studio in this regard.
But still, i really don't think that Dragon Age 2 would have been the same, or even existed without EA. Publishers nowadays are almighty, because... cash. They are the ones who can pay the salaries and they force disingenuous conditions on the studios who need the money not to shut down. They aim for mainstrem games, mass market. Obviously i would find that Pillars and mainstream should not fit together.
I looked into this thing at points, and heard rumours and hearsay from elsewhere, and what I got from it all is that the EA buying up Bioware situation is incredibly murky.
From what I understand, Bioware sold itself to a different company with the idea of merging all their stuff together and to get Bioware set up as a publicly traded company only to then have the parent company bought up by EA. This buying of EA is suspicious as it has turned out one of the guys who set up the parent company actually came from EA, and it was either all a back room deal or a big con to trick companies into being bought out (it wasn't just Bioware who was bought up in this transaction).
The two founders of Bioware stayed on for pretty much exactly a year, which fits with a contractual obligation they may have signed to 'make it look like continuance of before', and then bailed not only on their company but on the gaming industry in general. This could be either them making their money and legging it or them getting screwed and not wanting to stay around anymore.
Mass Effect was indeed three quarters done by the time EA bought them, but have you seen the earlier footage of Mass Effect, what they were aiming for? It was a drastically different game (you could control your squadmates directly, doing missions in different order or not by a certain time causing knock on effects, Mako being modifiable, etc). Having watched earlier footage, I see many areas in ME1 where I realised they were cut down or hangovers from an earlier plan. Now, this could be a case of the typical game developer thing of promising loads of things they then realised they couldn't do or didn't have the time and/or resources for, but it could also be a case of EA moving in and going "Hey, that works as is, push it out the door now..." Jade Empire I cannot comment on as I only played it years later after getting it on GOG and didn't really care for it, and Dragon Age Origins I'm not sure would have been much different (I wasn't impressed with it myself, and many issues with that was with its fundamental gameplay).
I guess the TL;DR version is: Its very very murky, which pretty much sums up the gaming industry in general. Frack man, when did gaming become such a hellhole?