Anthem, Bioware’s maligned attempt at an online looter-shooter, is officially dead after an extensive period of trying to revamp the game.
A statement from the Anthem team reads, “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).”
Anthem, which released to mixed reception just a little over two years ago, was always facing an uphill battle. It was a drastic departure at the time from what Bioware, a studio widely known for their RPG series Dragon Age and Mass Effect, put out. Upon release, it proved to be promising, if a bit too shallow and repetitive, seemingly caught between Bioware’s past and game development’s present, according to our own review.
To further pile on, technical hiccups and half-baked implementations of its features, such as the loot meant to drive the game, caused the team to halt all development on further expansions back in September of 2019 and focus internally on rebuilding the game.
The product of this incubation period was what became internally known as Anthem NEXT, an attempt to revitalize the game like countless online or continuous games have managed to pull off. TItles like Final Fantasy XIV or No Man’s Sky, which has an expansion titled “Next” that drastically overhauled the experience and marked a shift in reception, seemed to be the inspiration behind the move. All the while, the live team made sure that the game still operated as it was and had events running the whole time, even if nothing new cropped up and the game’s audience mostly dropped off.
While the team made progress on Anthem NEXT, audiences were occasionally updated on how things were coming along, but it seems it was too little too late. Additionally, developing multiple titles during the pandemic seems to have been to the detriment of the studio and their projects, with the statement noting that, “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.”
Development on Anthem NEXT continued trucking along through the pandemic up until a few weeks ago, when it was reported by Bloomberg that the team would be presenting the fruits of their labor to EA for approval. If they approved, it seemed the drastically reduced team working on Anthem would be scaled up to rebuild and relaunch the game sometime in the future. If not, the game would be canceled.
The team at Bioware in Austin that was working on Anthem NEXT now appears to be joining the rest of the teams in an attempt to bolster their ongoing projects. “Game development is hard. Decisions like these are not easy. Moving forward, we need to laser focus our efforts as a studio and strengthen the next Dragon Age, and Mass Effect titles while continuing to provide quality updates to Star Wars: The Old Republic.”
For now, Bioware will keep Anthem running as it has for the past two years and before retiring from the project, the team has thanked the community who kept it going since release. “To the Anthem community, thank you for your passion and creativity. Your feedback and suggestions most certainly help shape the team’s direction, and on a personal note, your kindness and encouragement were much needed last year.”