Anthem delayed to 2019 - Report

BioWare devs tell Kotaku the studio is feeling the pressure of EA's expectations and YouTubers' anger

BioWare's Anthem was announced at last year's Electronic Entertainment Expo with a fall 2018 release window, but studio owner Electronic Arts has pushed it back to early 2019, according to a Kotaku report.

Kotaku attributed news of the delay to three people close to the development of Anthem, with one of them saying the original release window was "never realistic."

Beyond time constraints, BioWare developers said they were under greater pressure to deliver with Anthem thanks to a number of other recent events throughout the games industry. For example, the disappointing sales of last year's Mass Effect Andromeda and the subsequent folding of BioWare Montreal into EA Motive had at least one source worried that if Anthem doesn't fulfill EA's expectations that the remaining BioWare studios in Edmonton and Austin, both of which are now focused on Anthem, could be in line for a significant overhaul.

The developers were also mindful about perceptions surrounding EA after last holiday season's launch of Star Wars: Battlefront II and the accompanying controversy over loot boxes. In particular, a pair of Anthem developers were concerned about the way some prominent YouTube personalities have jumped on the game and cast EA as a villain, saying it demoralizes the team.

While BioWare is focused on Anthem at the moment, it has not stopped work on other projects entirely. It still supports the Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO, although the Kotaku report notes there have been discussions about possibly pulling the plug on that. Additionally, BioWare has another Dragon Age in the works (reportedly with "more 'live' elements"), but that project was rebooted recently.

An EA representative declined to comment on the report.

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Latest comments (5)

Ian Griffiths Product Owner, Hutch4 years ago
For some reason people love to hate EA and I just don't know why. They didn't seem to care about Loot Boxes in Overwatch, or Team Fortress 2, or Halo 5, Destiny 2 or Call of Duty. Battlefront, an inherently unfair by design multiplayer shooter, got a lot of bad press over it.

Putting this kind of pressure on a team can't be good for the culture or the people on the team. I hope it doesn't get them down and they make an awesome game with Anthem.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 4 years ago
Reasons why other games might have caused less controversy than Battlefront.

Overwatch: $40 game, all characters unlocked.
Heroes of the Storm: $0 game, targeted individual purchases.
Destiny 2: $60 game, cash shop not even accessible before completing the game! Only barely relevant for some grind when all other content is depleted. +5 mods can be earned faster in a different way.
FiFa: $60 game, microtransaction mode is addition to existing modes, not a replacement.
Team Fortress: hats are not gameplay relevant, only angering the people who are into visual progression, i.e. RPG fans.

Now imagine, you wanted to do the exact opposite of all of the games mentioned. Welcome to Battlefront. A $60 game, which has not unlocked anything, targeted purchases with money are impossible, the cash shop is in your face from the very first second of the game and there is no classic mode to avoid the lootbox based mode. Needless to say, all items are highly gameplay relevant. You couldn't make that up for April fools, if you wanted to.

I feel bad for the Anthem team to be honest, their publisher did not do them any favors. Especially when EA claimed Disney did not allow for costumes, when the predecessor had costumes and Disney changes outfits more often than Jane Fonda did in Barbarella to sell more variants of the same plastic toys.

In my opinion, Bioware should throw EA under the same bus that EA threw Disney under. If Anthem does have microtransactions, it will not be the end of the world, but Bioware needs to get atop the situation and address them openly. Say what you plan to do and what you are not planning to do to earn some extra money. Or disable voting and comments on all future videos, because, you know, EA.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Klaus Preisinger on 25th January 2018 8:50am

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James Batchelor UK Editor, GamesIndustry.biz4 years ago
@Klaus Preisinger: Trouble is, you're unlikely to have BioWare as a studio distance itself from EA decisions because EA almost certainly has one of its own people in charge - it does own the studio, after all. You may get a couple of individual employees clarify any differences between BioWare's and EA's ethos, but it would be a big risk for them.

Like you guys, I just hope the pressure doesn't have a negative impact on the staff themselves. Regardless of the expectations on Anthem whether the publisher's financial targets, or consumer satisfaction building a game like this should be a creative, passionate project run by people in a positive mindset. It's easy to get the sense that this might not happen.
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Show all comments (5)
I suspect its more about generating sufficient content.

Have you seen how fast people consume content in Destiny 1 and 2.
Reskins of the same items weapons and armour, which have identical function and perks with a altered name means even cosmetic variants are insufficent for a open sandox exploration type game
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 4 years ago
Activision Blizzard are one company, that has not stopped them from pretending otherwise. Especially on the PC, the two brands have a vastly different image. You start Destiny from the Blizzard launcher and still any negativity is projected onto Activision. One could say, this is part of the killer instinct shown by Activision/Blizzard marketing.

Given the pressure on the EA brand, there is certainly an argument to be made for EA taking a page out of the Activision/Blizzard book and play up the Bioware part of the Anthem equation. I might have said, Bioware should throw EA under the bus, but what I really mean is EA should tell Bioware to throw EA under the bus. Show some of that killer instinct, that willingness to really sell the product.

Chee is right, cutting content to hit delivery date is at the bottom of many games which did not turn out as advertised. Especially with marketing getting people excited for gigantic worlds that aren't there, because nobody really has the technology to make them at the speed at which they are consumed. Nothing more sad than a game that is fun for 50h getting hated on by its customers because they expected a game that was fun for 500h; but it happens all the time.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Klaus Preisinger on 25th January 2018 3:24pm

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