So Much for Anthem Next, AKA Anthem 2.0, AKA Anthem Not Gonna Happen
If you own a copy of Anthem, or have one of the several version of EA Play on the market, I am going to guess that like me, that game has not got much use on your hard drive right now. I might go so far as to say that it is no longer taking up hard drive space at all as you have long since given up on Anthem. I too am in that boat as well. Sure, I have the game installed, but I could not tell you the last time I actually sat down and played the game for any length of time. That said, I had showed some interest in what Bioware was talking about in rebooting the game with new elements, new live events and a cleaner way to play Anthem from the start. It was bold, it was ambitious, and now it just is not happening. Parent company Electronic Arts yesterday, decided to pull the plug on the project, deciding it was not worth the money.
Now, before I walk too far down the road in this article, I am going to take a second to defend Electronic Arts here (insert your shocked face at this time). Electronic Arts was faced with a business decision to throw more money at a game that had been mismanaged since before its launch. Anthem did not come out as a quality product and gamers spoke very quickly with both their dollars and their playtime. This was the second time in recent memory for Bioware to put out a substandard quality game. First was Mass Effect Andromeda, and then there was Anthem. Both came out with way too many bugs, and their post game development had to be pushed to fix simple quality of life items. In this case, they were done extending courtesy to Bioware. They gave them a long plank for Andromeda, and they still came back with another broken game.
Back to Anthem proper, I was at least excited to see what Bioware would do with a second chance at a game like Anthem. Live service games are tough and if you are not set up perfectly, you will get nothing but complaints and low user counts. If you need recent proof of this, look no further than recent news on Marvel’s Avengers. Anthem started with a lot of quality of life issues that had to be fixed and it delayed the promised post game content. This is a death knell to a live service game, where the hardcore fans of the franchise will burn through your initial content and are poised to find out when more content will be coming their way. Anthem, delayed that content for 90 days, and then continued to push that content and if I am bluntly honest, I am still not sure how much, if any, has come out at this point in time. For me, I played a bit of it at launch though EA Access Premier, but soon lost interest and moved on. Later, I picked up the Super Deluxe Anthem Version on Xbox One for $8 on sale and though I might see how it was fixed up at that point in time. Needless to say, it was better than at launch, but still a bit average and I did not find much to keep me engaged. It was telling when that thing dropped into the free tier of EA Access about six months after the game had come out for proper release.
Then out of nowhere, Bioware said it was going to go the Square Enix Final Fantasy XIV route and revamp the game from the ground up. They would clean up visuals, streamline quests, clean up quality of life items and make the game fun to play. More importantly, it would get the stagnated player counts up. Of course, there were tons of questions with this idea. Would the update be free for those that already bought the game? How long would this take Bioware to finish? Most importantly though, would Electronic Arts fund this project?
We now have the answers to all three of these major questions via the last one being answered. And to be honest, I am surprised that Bioware came out after the project was killed and said they would continue to support Anthem in its current state. Why bother to be brutally honest. I can’t think the player count is making them any kind of money. The game has been a money loser from the day it launched and will never recoup those monies at this point in time. I mean, this almost seems like some sort of penance thrown down from the EA confessional booth to Bioware. Make them feel the pain of this game for another year due to their mismanagement of the franchise from the start.
I will say that lessons from Anthem seem to have trickled down to other games at Electronic Arts and Bioware specifically. We got the news today that Dragon Age 4 is ditching its live service multiplayer component in favor of the single player game. And look at one of the biggest games for Electronic Arts in 2019. Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order was a huge success and ditch any notion of multiplayer to tell a fantastic single player story and great gameplay (if not a little too challenging at times).
So I am sad to see the revamped Anthem 2.0 get shot down, but I think I am even more upset that they are going to keep a hobbled game going just to save some sort of face with the fanbase (are there even enough players to call it a fanbase).