BioWare is a development company with an impressive track record including the likes of the Dragon Age series and the Mass Effect series. Fans expected the 2019 release of their game Anthem to be the next big title comparable to BioWare’s biggest releases. However, Anthem was bombarded with negative reviews from critics, sending BioWare back to the drawing board. Despite the overwhelming criticism, the game still managed to maintain a minute fanbase whose enthusiasm spiked after news came out in October 2020 that Anthem would be receiving massive updates.
The planned changes for the game included a new Artifacts system, a retooling of the Javelins, and a revamped loot system. The developers attached the name Anthem NEXT to the revamped version of the original. Hopes began rising to the levels they were after Anthem’s unveiling at E3 2018, but then the fate of the game was put into jeopardy.
Former general manager of BioWare Casey Hudson departed from the company in December 2020 due to lack of belief in the success of the new Anthem project. On top of that, tensions began rising between EA and BioWare over the state of the game. In order to match the company’s work scope, BioWare pitched to EA to expand their staff of 30 developers to a staff of 90 people. Meetings between BioWare and EA reportedly didn’t go well. It wasn’t until February 24 2021 that the executive producer of BioWare, Christian Dailey, uploaded a blog post saying that Anthem NEXT had been canceled.
“In the spirit of transparency and closure we wanted to share that we’ve made the difficult decision to stop our new development work on Anthem (aka Anthem NEXT),” Dailey wrote. “2020 was a year unlike any other however and while we continue to make progress against all our game projects at BioWare, working from home during the pandemic has had an impact on our productivity and not everything we had planned as a studio before COVID-19 can be accomplished without putting undue stress on our teams.”
The announcement comes not only as a disappointment to fans, but also to Dailey and the development team. BioWare will now gear their focus and efforts towards Dragon Age 4, more Mass Effect games, and updates for Star Wars: The Old Republic. Although Anthem NEXT is cancelled, the Anthem servers will continue to run as they currently do.
“Game development is hard. Decisions like these are not easy,” Dailey stated. We shouldn’t expect game developers to continue making a game if the process is a living nightmare. Nothing in video game development should be forced or rushed to completion. As gamers, we should know by now that certain games just shouldn’t be released.