2017 was a rollercoaster year for EA. It started out with BioWare‘s Mass Effect Andromeda being a colossal disappointment in the eyes of the fanbase, so much so that they decide to suspend any further activity with the franchise. Then, they amassed a ton of hype and excitement for their E3 2017 presentation that featured Star Wars Battlefront II and Anthem. However, all that momentum only served to give them enough speed to crash into a wall, as they caused a fan outcry over the inclusion of microtransactions in Battlefront II. The November backlash was so volatile, it rocked the video game industry and forced many publishers to rethink their philosophy on in-game purchases.
A new report by Kotaku’s Jason Schreier explains that the turmoil felt in 2017 has caused BioWare to delay their big-budget Destiny-esque persistent shooter, Anthem, to 2019.
This delay may come as a disappointment for the gaming community excited to get their hands on what has been dubbed the “Destiny Killer”. It shouldn’t be a surprise, though. The Fall 2018 date seemed pretty ambitious when you consider all the work and pre-planning it takes to develop a game of Anthem’s caliber. So, when could we see the game? Schreier’s sources tell us that it’s unlikely that EA won’t allow them to push the game beyond March 2019. That’s because that would be the end of EA’s fiscal year, and they’re going to need Anthem to reach their bottom line and satisfy their investors.
Unfortunately, this push to release Anthem within EA’s next fiscal year is causing a negative effect on morale and having a lot of developers working at BioWare questioning the studio’s mortality if Anthem isn’t a success.
Schreir writes, “To BioWare staff, the stakes feel higher than they ever have. As one developer told me, there’s a belief that if Anthem doesn’t live up to EA’s expectations, BioWare will look very different in the future, especially after the disappointment of Mass Effect Andromeda led to EA absorbing BioWare Montreal into the studio EA Motive.”
After Mass Effect Andromeda failing to meet expectations, EA decided to reduce the number of studios under the BioWare to two studios, one in Edmonton and one in Austin. Right now, the employees for both studios are being pulled away from all of their projects in order to focus solely on Anthem, with just a small team left to keep Star Wars: The Old Republic afloat and rebooting the Dragon Age franchise.
Since then, Anthem has had its fair share of struggles as they try and work out all the kinks for this massive undertaking. They’ve had setbacks from using EA’s main engine Frostbite, the fallout from the microtransaction fiasco (which could turn out to be only cosmetic in Anthem), having to try and avoid the pitfalls that their competitor, Activision/Bungie, have fallen into with Destiny 2, and of course the bad rap that EA has received throughout all of this. Fortunately, in the 6 years it has taken to develop Anthem, it sounds as if the process has gotten a little bit better in Schreier’s report. Although, that doesn’t make the hot seat feel any less cooler.
I encourage you to read Schreier’s article as he goes more in-depth on the subject.
Anthem will now release in Early 2019.