According to an article published by Bloomberg yesterday, EA may decided the fate of maligned game Anthem this week. Whether this meeting takes place is speculative at best, but EA may be flogging a dead horse. Resurrections of failed games are nothing new. But BioWare will need to pull off a miracle of Lazarus proportions to save this spectacular disappointment for the publisher.
Anthem, described on the Wiki as “a science fantasy, action-adventure role playing game game” launched in 2019. Lacking content and churning out cookie cutter, repetitive mission fodder, it flopped hard. The game, whilst spectacularly pretty was as hollow as the Javelin’s left empty by a disenfranchised fandom. It lacked, depth, it lacked narrative, and as highlighted by Gamerant in May of 2019, it now lacks any player base to speak of. Not good news for an open-world multiplayer.
Like that girl you fancied from high school, Anthem’s beauty was only skin deep
BioWare followed this disastrous launch be amassing a small task force to rescue the title. Executive Producer Christian Dailey released a number of blog posts to mollify an expectant community. But following his departure from BioWare in December speculation as to Anthem‘s future is once again in question.
But this week, if Bloomberg’s sources are to be believed, EA will decide the fate of this forlorn fantasy adventure. The current Anthem Next team consists of around 30 people. But to create the content necessary to bring this game back from the brink, BioWare reportedly requested three times that number to give it a fighting chance. This would be a significant gamble by EA, as even if BioWare can inject some semblance of playability into Anthem, there might simply be too much bad blood to tempt fans back.
Anthem is an ex-Game. Here’s why
Whether or not the call is made this week remains to be seen, we’ll be sure to let you know in due course. But the question remains as to whether they should even consider attempting a re-boot. For a start, much of the original team that worked on Anthem have since moved on, including the project director Christian Dailey as we mentioned above.
Second, any attempt to charge players for another bite at the cherry at this point would likely backfire. So for the game to return any investment for EA would need to rely heavily on all those famously popular monetisation devices that have become synonymous with the publisher. So EA has the choice between making no money or another PR disaster. Neither option seem particularly appealing.
Warframe have hundreds of developers working to keep players engaged
Third, tripling the developers from 30 to 90 might not even scratch the surface. Successful games of a similar ilk, like Destiny 2, Warframe or even The Division 2 have hundreds of people working on them, constantly churning out content to keep players engaged and the games alive. Low balling the development needed on an Anthem reboot will likely end in yet another half-baked game. So it’s go big, or go home, and if that’s the case, EA will need a way to recoup costs. See point two, above.
Finally, whilst it is possible to pull games back from the dead, it’s a lot harder with a new IP. Games like Diablo 3 or Final Fantasy XIV each have an extensive legacy to rely on. A fan base loyal and braying for the next instalment of a series much loved for, in the case of the above titles, not years but decades.
Back From the Brink: No Man’s Sky pulled off a notable u-turn following an unimpressive launch
True that this is not the case for No Man Sky, or even OG Destiny, but they dedicated their entire studios to fixing the problems faced on launch. BioWare have effectively been sitting on their hands for over a year, and the extra 60 people asked for represent a fraction of available talent at EA. It’s no secret that Dragon Age 4 is BioWare’s top priority, and given the likelihood of that games success, where would you put your best developers? On a sure thing, or a last ditch gamble to save a game that no one really wants. I know where I put my money.
BioWare could recycle a few left over Javelin’s for the next Mass Effect game, surely
In my opinion, to coin Monty Python, an ex-game. That’s not to say there isn’t a lot that can be taken from the all be it failed development. Systems developed for Javelin movement could quite easily find themselves in Mass Effect 4. Matchmaking and co-op code could be recycled easily into a more thoroughly throughout MMO for future consideration. Even the world, whilst devoid of interest, presents a myriad of opportunity for re-use in biomes as yet unimagined by EA and BioWare.
In the end, EA can do exactly what they want with their money, and if Bloomberg are to be believed we should find out pretty soon. But as the expression goes in poker, don’t throw good money after bad. Whilst that might mean an extra £5 on a chancers flop to you and me, or hundreds of millions of pounds for EA remains only a question of perspective.