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Anthem’s years-long development cycle was filled with constant

Anthem’s years-long development cycle was filled with constant

BioWare refuted reports of forced crunch in the development of “Anthem” in a blog post on Tuesday but acknowledged it was looking into the game’s development and that there is room to improve. The company released the statement in response to a Kotaku article about the development of the online action-RPG. “Anthem’s” years-long development cycle was filled with constant upheavals, according to the Kotaku report. Many features weren’t finalized or implemented until the final months. There were big narrative reboots, design overhauls, team shakeups, and intense “crunch” periods. Plus, limitations with “Anthem’s” Frostbite engine reportedly caused numerous headaches.

The spark behind the response was an expose published on Kotaku. It spoke with several developers that either worked on the game or are familiar with the conditions around its development. Their stories included first-hand accounts of stress and burnout, as well as troubles adapting the Frostbite engine and purported warnings to management that went unheeded. BioWare itself chose not to engage with the article, but the statement makes very clear that the expose is what prompted the response.

Kotaku’s report paints a picture of dysfunction. The BioWare process, which relies on a confluence of systems coming together in a sudden success right before the launch, seems to no longer work. A steady drain of both leadership figures and talented developers has turned this formula on its head, and that can be seen in both Mass Effect: Andromeda and Anthem. Both titles went through several years of development and iteration before critically panned launches that disappointed players.

This sense of corporate confusion, where decisions from above happen arbitrarily and without warning carries through the Kotaku piece. It’s even claimed that Anthem was meant to be titled Beyond until just days before its 2017 E3 unveiling, and that the game’s story even had to be reworked to accommodate this late re-branding. It always felt to me that the game’s description of the Anthem of Creation – the quasi-mystical space force behind much of the game’s technology – felt confused and like a late addition to the script, and that would go a long way to explaining why.

The statement doesn't challenge any of the facts in the report. Instead it says "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." Anthem released in February, and we gave it a score of 55 in our Anthem review. It seems remarkable that the game was even as complete as it was.


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