Disturbing truths come to light.
To no one’s surprise, Anthem turned out to be another failure by Bioware, and the second one in a row after 2017’s Mass Effect Andromeda. What caused the latest title by the once-mighty RPG giants to fail?
The truth has now come to light, courtesy of Kotaku’s Jason Schreier, who interviewed anonymous sources from within Bioware, as well as former employees of the developer.
Schreier posted his article earlier today, a brilliant long exposé about the reasons that led to Anthem‘s downfall. Here’s what went wrong with the ambitious game:
- The lack of a creative and unified vision in the very early years of when Anthem was just an idea was a major problem. None of the development’s management could agree on what ideas to implement, and the project remains in perpetual limbo for most of its pre-production years.
- Even when Anthem‘s first demo was revealed during E3 2017, it was still in pre-production, and the game’s title was abruptly changed from its original name of “Beyond” to suddenly being called “Anthem” instead.
- Despite announcing a general release window by then, the horrifying truth is that none of the game’s core mechanics and actual gameplay had actually been set in stone yet. Keep in mind that this was barely two years before the game would eventually be released on 22 February 2019.
- To make matters worse, major technical difficulties that plagued the development of 2017’s Mass Effect Andromeda returned to haunt Bioware; EA’s horrible Frostbite Engine. The infamous video game is described as “full of razor blades”.
- Something as basic as save-load mechanics and a third-person camera in other popular game engines like Unreal and Unity were not absent from Frostbite, which means that they had to be built from scratch.
- A Bioware developer said it best when he said: “It’s hard enough to make a game. It’s really hard to make a game where you have to fight your own toolset all the time.”
- Extreme stress was also a major problem for those who worked with Anthem, with some even suffering from anxiety and other mental problems. The higher-ups just didn’t care, and all of the other problems (as stated above) exacerbated the suffering of those who worked on the project.
That’s as concise as I could get, but for all the details and the full story, you should definitely read Schreier’s original article.
But Wait! There’s More…
Unfortunately, the story didn’t end there, as only minutes after his article went online, EA and Bioware immediately published a response to it (which indicated that they did not even read the article beforehand).
Bioware’s blog post described Schreier’s piece as being “unfair” to “specific team members and leaders”. Instead of actually addressing the problem and apologizing, they decided to be dismissive instead:
The struggles and challenges of making video games are very real. But the reward of putting something we created into the hands of our players is amazing. People in this industry put so much passion and energy into making something fun.
We don’t see the value in tearing down one another or one another’s work. We don’t believe articles that do that are making our industry and craft better.
It’s never easy to hear matters like this being reported and uncovered, but I truly wish all the best for everyone who was brave enough to come forward and contribute to Schreier’s article, and of course, Schreier himself for exposing what went wrong with Bioware’s Anthem.
I want to add — to those of you who think this EA/BioWare sentiment is fucking bullshit, that telling these stories and talking about these issues is essential toward making the video game industry a healthier place, I’m with you. And you can contact me any time. pic.twitter.com/m4ApPuYu0R
— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) April 3, 2019