Revealed at E3 2017, Anthem garnered a lot of attention as a “Destiny-like” IP from BioWare, that is, a game that has a unique living world that melds shooting mechanics with those of multiplayer online RPGs. There was quite a bit of buzz surrounding last year’s announcement, including an entire gameplay video that showed the concept, and EA calling Anthem a “science fantasy” game, very much in the vein of Star Wars. Soon after, things feel silent. After some confusing messaging by using fiscal years instead of the real world calendar that the rest of us operate on (fiscal years are what businesses use for accounting and exact dates can vary), EA clarified that Anthem would release in Fall 2018.
Now, per reports from Jason Schreier with Kotaku, it appears that Anthem will be missing its projected release window. According to Schreier, three sources close to the project have confirmed to him that Anthem’s expected release internally is now early 2019, but that exact timing is “still in flux.” Despite silence on the news front, BioWare has been moving nearly all of its resources over to Anthem in recent months. Dragon Age Executive Producer Mark Darrah revealed that he is currently working on Anthem in addition to the next Dragon Age, which shows this all hands on deck approach that they are taking to the project.
Halfway through my trip to Barcelona!
I’m here showing Anthem internally to EA. I am EP of BOTH DA and Anthem working with @Bio_Warner as Game Director
Anthem’s up next but there are people hard at work on both franchises and I look forward to sharing more in the future
— Mark Darrah (@BioMarkDarrah) January 24, 2018
Anxiety and expectation surrounding Anthem are high, Schreier’s report goes on to say. EA has faced an uphill battle in the face of such failures as Mass Effect: Andromeda (our biggest disappointment of 2017) and last year’s Star Wars Battlefront 2 loot box controversy. That was all in addition to some high profile shuffling of BioWare staff at an executive level. Another thing of note has been Destiny fans’ recent dissatisfaction with Destiny 2. Anthem has regularly been compared to Bungie’s living world shooter, and some of the development team at BioWare worry that is putting them under undue pressure. There is concern that they won’t be able to meet lofty gamer expectations as Anthem faces its own growing pains early in life.
Schreier’s sources also note that BioWare employees are apprehensive about inflammatory remarks and toxicity in the gaming community that have painted publishers like EA as purely evil corporations. Schreier talks about this removing any nuance from the complicated machine that is corporate culture.
To people who work for EA, the publisher isn’t just a cold corporate master—it is a complicated machine that, yes, is concerned first and foremost with generating revenue for investors, but also supports thousands of people in many tangible and intangible ways. People close to BioWare, along with many other developers I’ve talked to in recent months, worry that commentary from some of YouTube’s loudest voices has eliminated nuance and made companies like EA seem like Disney villains.
It is noted by one of the sources that EA is unlikely to let BioWare delay the game past March 2019 in order to release inside of the fiscal year, but that still means we could see Anthem delayed up to six months past initial projections. Are you disappointed that we likely won’t be seeing Anthem this year? Do you think the Anthem delay will make for a better game when it does finally release?
According to CNBC, EA’s shares dropped 2.3 percent following Kotaku’s report.