A couple of days ago, Kotaku published
a lengthy report detailing Anthem's troubled development cycle - where brutal crunch, a lack of vision, and technical issues plagued a game that although had a 6-year development cycle came only came together in the final 18 months. Now, Kotaku
has gotten hold of an internal email from BioWare head Casey Hudson sent to all employees addressing the fallout.
And issues raised within - with the email confirming that "These problems are real and it’s our top priority to continue working to solve them." Here's the email in full.
I wanted to get a note out to you to share my thoughts on the Kotaku article and the online discussion it has raised.
The article mentions many of the problems in the development of Anthem and some of our previous projects. And it draws a link between those issues and the quality of our workplace and the well-being of our staff. These problems are real and it’s our top priority to continue working to solve them.
What we found out-of-bounds was the naming of specific developers as targets for public criticism. It’s unfair and extremely traumatizing to single out people in this way, and we can’t accept that treatment towards any of our staff. That’s why we did not participate in the article and made a statement to that effect.
When I was offered the opportunity to return to BioWare as GM, I came into the role knowing the studio was experiencing significant challenges in team health, creative vision, and organizational focus. I was - and continue to be - excited to help drive improvements in those areas because I love this studio, and above all I want to create a place where all of you are happy and successful.
I’m not going to tell you I’ve done a good job at that, and on a day like today I certainly feel like I haven’t. But some of the steps we’ve taken towards this include a more focused studio mission and values, so that we have clarity on what we are here to do and how we define a high standard for our studio culture. We updated our studio structure around a matrix so that department directors can be fully focused on individual career support and well-being. We are defining better role clarity so that people can succeed better against clear expectations. And we are putting in place production changes that will provide for clearer project vision as well as a significant post-production period that will further relieve pressure and anxiety on teams during development.
But I know there’s much more to do, and we will talk in more detail about other actions we have been planning in response to internal feedback and postmortems at next week’s All-Hands. As always please continue to provide feedback on further steps we can take to make BioWare the best possible place to work.
I’m committed to getting us to a place where we are delivering on the highest expectations for BioWare games, through a work environment that’s among the very best in the world. With your help, we will get there.
Please let me know if you’d like to talk in person and I will be happy to set up time to hear your thoughts.
By all accounts it looks like BioWare is aware of the problems surrounding Anthem's development and that it will be taking steps to improve things for its employees moving forward. A rather scathing depiction of AAA development, since its publication Kotaku's Jason Schreier has received messages from other AAA studios describing similar working conditions.