Anthem’s Small Overhaul Team Is Going “Back To the Drawing Board”
After another long bout of silence about EA‘s catastrophic AAA failure that is Anthem, developer BioWare has announced that a small overhaul team is “going back to the drawing board” in a bid to save the game from being a complete waste of resources and talent. That team is a tiny fraction of the hundreds of developers that BioWare employs, but it’s still a nonzero number and transparency at any cost is this BioWare skeleton crew of developers’ only path forward.
The question of who is even still working on the listless Destiny clone has at last been answered, but the path that landed a tiny group of BioWare employees in the awkward position of reinvigorating a massive game that cost over $ 100 million and untold man hours to create is still baffling. Failing to capture its initial playerbase’s attention with timely post-launch updates to a shallow core experience (a product of a notoriously rushed and mismanaged development cycle), Anthem shed player counts in an unstoppable avalanche of disappointment shortly after the incomplete game released in early 2019. Later last year, BioWare infamously abandoned its roadmap for improving the game, and very little has been uttered by the endangered studio since – aside from murmurs of a modest effort to entirely renovate the game.
Yesterday, a BioWare blog post (the first since February) went into some detail of how Anthem “NEXT” will be overhauled, even establishing a soft timeline. BioWare Austin studio director Christian Dailey, the man previously responsible for heading up post-launch updates to the troublesome game, first and foremost wants players to understand that he and his “30-ish”-person team are human beings, making sure to include a picture of himself with his infant and three dogs as the post’s header. Referring to his team as the “Anthem incubation team,” Dailey makes it clear that fixing the game will be a “longer process” than some would hope, sharing that their job is “go back to the drawing board” and begin the process of “experimenting/prototyping to improve on the areas where we believe we fell short.”
Essentially, 30 or so BioWare developers are being tasked with potentially up-ending some of Anthem‘s most central gameplay pillars, possibly creating a new game in the process using existing assets and sloppy systems. While even Dailey admits the “the team is small,” he optimistically claims that their tiny size grants them “agility a larger one can’t afford.” There’s certainly logic to that notion, but it’s hard to ignore that his glorified skeleton crew’s been given a herculean task that multiple BioWare teams found utterly Sisyphean a year ago. With an indie-size dev team, their never-ending list of work may not be ready until well after players simply don’t care anymore once the next console generation arrives. Furthermore, no matter how well they do, they can’t erase EA’s huge losses on one of 2019’s biggest disappointments.
Putting the absolute mountain of odds stacked against this small detachment of BioWare Austin developers aside, there’s always a chance that they’ll entirely redeem Anthem into something that players could come flocking back to. Actual fun and engaging gameplay in the game’s beautiful world coupled with an insanely low price tag could very well turn that pipe dream into a reality – but players probably shouldn’t hold their breath.