Image: BioWare

BioWare will no longer attempt to salvage its troubled online multiplayer action role-playing game, Anthem. The white flag was raised by BioWare Austin studio director Christian Dailey, who shared a blog post today confirming that development on the title’s proposed revival, Anthem NEXT, has been terminated. Dailey pointed out that the Anthem live service would continue running, however, which means that players who are satisfied with the current experience can continue enjoying it for as long as EA is willing to keep the franchise and servers alive.

“2020 was a year unlike any other […] and while we continue to make progress against all our game projects at BioWare, working from home during the pandemic has had an impact on our productivity and not everything we had planned as a studio before COVID-19 can be accomplished without putting undue stress on our teams,” Dailey wrote to clarify why BioWare had given up on Anthem.

“I know this will be disappointing to the community of Anthem players who have been excited to see the improvements we’ve been working on. It’s also disappointing for the team who were doing brilliant work. And for me personally, Anthem is what brought me to BioWare, and the last two years have been some of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my career.”

A report from earlier this month revealed that EA would have had to triple BioWare’s manpower in order to bring the developer’s Anthem NEXT vision to life. Evidently, the publishing giant decided that it wasn’t worth the additional cost and opted to shift the studio’s focus to its Dragon Age, Mass Effect, and Star Wars: The Old Republic titles instead.

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12 Comments

  1. I think this was a smart move on EA/BioWare’s part. Anthem’s launch was one of the most colossal blunders in gaming history. The game cost tens of millions of dollars and unfortunately, salvaging the project would have required millions more in additional development costs. Not to mention, additional time in which the player base would continue to drop off, lose interest and move onto other games. Let’s also not forget the looter shooter market is not only very competitive right now but its also a very tough market to crack.

    A lot of games have tried, with most of them failing miserably. It’s chief competitors are Destiny 2 and Warframe which are very well established and have been for several years now. There are lots of reasons why Anthem wasn’t up to snuff and why it was such a disappointment. The short version is that the game would have almost needed to have largely been scrapped and rebuilt. This only increases costs and the time needed to course correct what was obviously a doomed enterprise to begin with. It’s just simple economics. The high cost of salvaging this disaster wasn’t worth the risk. It makes more sense to devote those resources to established and previously successful franchises such as Dragon Age and Mass Effect and ensure their profitability.

  2. [QUOTE=”Dan_D, post: 30230, member: 6″]
    It’s chief competitors are Destiny 2 and Warframe which are very well established and have been for several years now.
    [/QUOTE]

    Well I would not mind a new game, I find warframe terrible, can’t make head or tails from that game and what you are supposed to do, and destiny 2 to much focused on PvP if you want to get exotics even though I did like the PvE bit’s, you nearly always end up mid quest chain having to PvP to continue.

    Sad that they abandon it, at least they could have made a patch with some of the changes they made in the last year iso throwing it all out of the window. Maybe they can release mod tools and let the community try and fix it.

  3. [QUOTE=”Denpepe, post: 30234, member: 284″]
    Well I would not mind a new game, I find warframe terrible, can’t make head or tails from that game and what you are supposed to do, and destiny 2 to much focused on PvP if you want to get exotics even though I did like the PvE bit’s, you nearly always end up mid quest chain having to PvP to continue.

    Sad that they abandon it, at least they could have made a patch with some of the changes they made in the last year iso throwing it all out of the window. Maybe they can release mod tools and let the community try and fix it.
    [/QUOTE]

    Destiny 2 has always tried to increase the PvP player base, which is something that works well for most games as it’s essential to the longevity of a lot of games. That being said, Bungie has taken criticisms regarding the exotic quests and often provides alternative steps to progress the quests so that PvP is either minimized or avoided entirely. In ones that require it, they usually offer Gambit as an alternative and kills made by your allies count towards your quest.

    As for Anthem, its likely not that simple. The game needed its basic systems overhauled and integrating what they are doing into the current game may not be technically possible.

  4. [QUOTE=”hubaduba, post: 30241, member: 1423″]
    Here comes word of layoffs, followed by the conclusion of the show death of Bioware.
    [/QUOTE]

    Reportedly, the Anthem team was only about 30 devs who worked on the original Mass Effect trilogy. Those people can easily[I] (and should)[/I] be moved to the next Mass Effect project.

  5. [QUOTE=”Dan_D, post: 30244, member: 6″]
    Reportedly, the Anthem team was only about 30 devs who worked on the original Mass Effect trilogy. Those people can easily[I] (and should)[/I] be moved to the next Mass Effect project.
    [/QUOTE]
    They should’ve been moved there a year ago. 30 devs x8 hours x about 200 workdays. That’s a lot of wasted effort.

  6. Unfortunately, we may never know what transpired behind the scenes. That said, I don’t think the effort over the last year was a good one. 30 devs trying to retool a game that big, with so many problems, missing features, broken promises, etc. was hardly enough. EA/BioWare never went all in on Anthem after it failed to live up to expectations. Mismanagement strikes again. I think the devs showed EA what they had and told them how much money and time was needed to get the game into an acceptable state, and EA wisely concluded that the players had moved on and sinking millions of dollars and potentially years of additional development in the project would be a waste of resources.

    When I look at Anthem, I don’t see potential. I don’t see the framework for a live service game that can go head to head with its peers and pull a “No Man’s Sky.” I see a game that needs to be scrapped and remade almost entirely in order to fix what’s fundamentally wrong with it.

  7. Developpement for this game reads a lot like that of duke nukem forever, too much reiteration, not enough focus and lot’s of mismanagement.

    I still think this game could have been improved a lot in the last year even with only 30 devs, visually the game is good enough, gameplay feels decent enough, and you don’t need 100+ devs for 5 years to revamp the lootsystem

    Seems their revamp was too ambitous for what little staff was left and what the game could support atm, sometimes you need to take babysteps.

  8. [QUOTE=”Denpepe, post: 30255, member: 284″]
    Developpement for this game reads a lot like that of duke nukem forever, too much reiteration, not enough focus and lot’s of mismanagement.

    I still think this game could have been improved a lot in the last year even with only 30 devs, visually the game is good enough, gameplay feels decent enough, and you don’t need 100+ devs for 5 years to revamp the lootsystem

    Seems their revamp was too ambitous for what little staff was left and what the game could support atm, sometimes you need to take babysteps.
    [/QUOTE]

    Well, a lack of proper management has been BioWare’s main problem for several years now. Several managers and writing staff left during both Andromeda and Anthem’s development. While I hate to give KOTAKU credit for anything, their reporting on the internal workings of BioWare during that period seems to be accurate. If that report is to be believed, Andromeda was done in 18 months of crunch after 3 years of fucking around and having no direction for the game. Anthem was supposedly done in even less time under similar conditions. A lack of vision and direction was precisely the reason each project ended up the way it did. Mac Walters was brought in with just under two years to straighten out Andromeda and for the most part he did. This wasn’t the case with Anthem and it shows.

    Casey Hudson and others have left in the last couple of years. In other words, it hasn’t gotten any better at BioWare. Unless they can get the right people to direct these endeavors, they are all doomed to fail.

  9. [QUOTE=”Burticus, post: 30287, member: 297″]
    Release the source code and modders can try to fix it. Of course it’s EA tho, so this will never happen.
    [/QUOTE]

    Yeah, that’s never going to happen. EA will always protect its investments. It’s not going to release the source code of an IP and have modders show up their development team.

  10. [QUOTE=”Burticus, post: 30287, member: 297″]
    Release the source code and modders can try to fix it. Of course it’s EA tho, so this will never happen.
    [/QUOTE]
    It would be a nice gesture, but it would also be terrible business.

    Anthem may not mean much to us, but for EA, that development cost is never leaving the balance sheet. That’s what they paid for it, so to them, that’s what it’s worth, and that’s assuming zero ROI.

    Terminating investment into work that has essentially been throwing good money after bad up to this point is good business, but giving away work for free isn’t.

    We should take Anthem for what it is: a technology demonstrator. The tech is good. What game there was played well. It just wasn’t nearly enough.

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