BioWare’s most recent high-profile failure and apparent death knell in EA’s efforts to make live-service games was a game called Anthem that released in 2019. A former dev on Twitter, Ian Saterdalen, recently claimed the game’s final version was developed in only 15 months, an unheard-of timescale for a game of that scope.
Anthem has already received an enormous exposé from former Kotaku writer Jason Schreier, who released a tell-all story about the game’s tumultuous development. The article told not only of development problems, but also how the development negatively affected many devs on the project, and even how the game’s E3 2018 demo was a fake.
Stories told included huge amounts of crunch time, constantly changing decisions by studio executives, a lack of technical support from EA, and a brutal takedown of studio heads who believed that the game would work itself out in the end due to the same “BioWare magic” that had delivered such well-regarded games as Mass Effect and Dragon Age.
Anthem took place on the fantasy world of Coda, a world that was, according to folklore, abandoned by its creators before it could be truly completed. This caused great storms and monsters to appear across the planet, threatening human life.
Players took on the role of Freelancers, who made use of armored suits called Javelins to go on missions to defend humanity against various threats. Despite this great concept, the game got a great deal of criticism for being grindy, having shallow gameplay, tech issues, and a lackluster story.
Originally, Electronic Arts and BioWare planned to completely revamp the game to address various criticisms, but after roughly two years with little word, the revamp was announced to be cancelled, and Anthem died without being able to fulfill its potential.
However, even with such a dismal failure, Anthem might have provided some use to the gaming community; its failure was so catastrophic that EA, who had previous mandated that the upcoming Dragon Age: Dreadwolf game also be a live service game, instead told BioWare to make it a single-player RPG, so there may be hope for it yet.
After BioWare’s back-to-back disappointments of Mass Effect: Andromeda and Anthem, hopefully they’ll get back in the saddle properly with the upcoming Dragon Age game.