A new piece from video game news outlet Kotaku released today detailing the troubled development of studio BioWare’s latest game, Anthem. In the piece, journalist Jason Schreier interviews multiple people who worked on or adjacent to the game. While EA declined to comment on the piece, BioWare posted a statement earlier today discussing the article, development of the game and stated that their “full focus” is on Anthem and its players.
Below is the official response from BioWare regarding the Kotaku article:
We’d like to take a moment to address an article published this morning about BioWare, and Anthem’s development. First and foremost, we wholeheartedly stand behind every current and former member of our team that worked on the game, including leadership. It takes a massive amount of effort, energy and dedication to make any game, and making Anthem would not have been possible without every single one of their efforts. We chose not to comment or participate in this story because we felt there was an unfair focus on specific team members and leaders, who did their absolute best to bring this totally new idea to fans. We didn’t want to be part of something that was attempting to bring them down as individuals. We respect them all, and we built this game as a team.
We put a great emphasis on our workplace culture in our studios. The health and well-being of our team members is something we take very seriously. We have built a new leadership team over the last couple of years, starting with Casey Hudson as our GM in 2017, which has helped us make big steps to improve studio culture and our creative focus. We hear the criticisms that were raised by the people in the piece today, and we’re looking at that alongside feedback that we receive in our internal team surveys. We put a lot of focus on better planning to avoid “crunch time,” and it was not a major topic of feedback in our internal postmortems. Making games, especially new IP, will always be one of the hardest entertainment challenges. We do everything we can to try and make it healthy and stress-free, but we also know there is always room to improve.
As a studio and a team, we accept all criticisms that will come our way for the games we make, especially from our players. The creative process is often difficult. 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.
Our full focus is on our players and continuing to make Anthem everything it can be for our community. Thank you to our fans for your support – we do what we do for you.
Given Anthem’s rocky launch and patches, it’s a shame that such an intriguing game was marred by a difficult development. One part of the expose by Kotaku, explains that during meetings no definitive directions on mechanics or lore would be decided. “…the meeting would end with no real verdict, leaving everything in flux” The Frostbite engine also proved to be difficult since no one on the team actually took part in designing the engine. “The engine allowed them to build big, beautiful levels, but it just wasn’t equipped with the tools to support all of those ambitious prototypes that they’d created.”
Development stress also reared its head during Anthem’s production. On employee told Schreier that “Depression and anxiety are an epidemic within Bioware.” Another employee explained that the studio would suffer “stress casualties,” causing them to leave the project for a few months. This isn’t the first time we’ve heard of ” the crunch” causing mental breakdowns or hanging over a game’s development like a black cloud. In fact, this is perhaps one of the most known and well-documented problems in video game development.
We strongly recommend reading the full Kotaku article on Anthem’s development.
Much like the original Destiny, Anthem’s rocky start certainly doesn’t spell the end for this title. Bungie suffered similar development issues but managed to bounce back a year after its initial launch. While this certainly hurt the game’s initial image, Destiny flourished since its rocky release back in 2014. One can only hope that Anthem manages to eventually reach the lofty heights it originally aspired to hit.