Kotaku's Jason Schreier, who posted a similar account of the troubles facing BioWare's Mass Effect Andromeda, has published a new report
detailing the long and troubled development of the studio's most recent release - Anthem. With Anthem garnering the lowest review scores in BioWare's long history, the fact that there were development issues shouldn't come as a surprise. But the extent, surely will.
It's well worth a read in full, so be sure to check it out. With the main takeaways being that the team never fully committed to what Anthem was until the final months of development, and that an extended period of crunch had a devastating effect on team morale.
Dozens of developers, many of them decade-long veterans, have left BioWare over the past two years. Some who have worked at BioWare’s longest-running office in Edmonton talk about depression and anxiety. Many say they or their co-workers had to take “stress leave” - a doctor-mandated period of weeks or even months worth of vacation for their mental health.
One former BioWare developer told me they would frequently find a private room in the office, shut the door, and just cry. “People were so angry and sad all the time,” they said. Said another: “Depression and anxiety are an epidemic within Bioware.”
As well as issues coming to grips with EA and DICE's Frostbite engine, which powered both of BioWare's previous titles - Mass Effect Andromeda and Dragon Age Inquisition. According to the report, which is mostly pulled together from anonymous sources close to the project, Anthem was built from the ground-up with none of the learning or tools developed for both of these titles implemented. And due to the structure coming together at the eleventh hour so to speak, issues like long loading screens and other technical shortcomings were the result of having to meet a hard release-date of no later than March 2019. Strangely, the report goes into detail about the game's strongest mechanic - flying around - revealing that it was something that the team kept going back and forth on until very late in pre-production. Which was still, not much more than a year from its eventual release.
In response to the report BioWare posted an update
titled 'Anthem Game Development' that states.
It takes a massive amount of effort, energy and dedication to make any game, and making Anthem would not have been possible without every single one of their efforts. 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. We didn’t want to be part of something that was attempting to bring them down as individuals. We respect them all, and we built this game as a team.
Adding that well-being and health of the team is important and that the studio has taken "big steps to improve studio culture and our creative focus."