RIP Anthem, EA cancels Anthem Next

Well I guess this is it for Anthem.

EA on Wednesday officially announced it was killing Anthem Next and moving the skeleton crew at Bioware that had been working on it over to Dragon Age 4.

It’s a real shame. I understand it from a business perspective. The game didn’t do well, and they would have to reorganize too many developers away from new projects in their established franchises (Dragon Age, Mass Effect) to try to fix Anthem and build new content for the game that has long since fallen out of the public eye. 

I loved the flight mechanics, the visuals, the gunplay, the Iron Man suits and the abilities they brought with them. It was the skeleton of a good game that was missing the meat required to make it stick. Worse yet, it also came with bugs and performance issues that frustrated players on top of that.

However, the core of what they needed was there. And we’ve seen games like Destiny (both 1 and 2), No Man’s Sky, Elder Scrolls Online, and even to an extent the much maligned Fallout 76 earn their own niche audiences and redemption arcs through persistent updates and add-ons. So I, like many, had hoped for a similar story for Anthem. But it was not to be.

It may have even been able to achieve its own redemption arc if, like these other games, it had had the full backing of the development team still working on it the entire time, and it didn’t have a corporate overlord like EA breathing down their necks. But Bioware was too quick to reorganize its staff to other projects, which makes me wonder how they really thought they’d have the manpower to back a game-as-service-game in the first place. 

There were clearly too many missteps for Anthem to even stand a chance.

But the internet shares some of the blame.

Anthem is just the latest example of how bad headlines, memes and negative social media reaction can kill things that don’t deserve to die. 

Initial reactions are paramount in the industry, especially when building a game that expects to have ongoing support.

People read those headlines, see those memes, and see the social media reaction and that’s it. That becomes the collective opinion on the internet, with people parroting the memes and dunking on the game in all corners of the internet for the rest of time regardless of more recent developments.

It is very difficult for developers to revive a game facing that kind of uphill battle. 

See Bioware’s full announcement here.

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