BioWare Boss Responds to Reports of 'Anthem's Development Hell

Earlier this week, an extensive report by Kotaku made the rounds that dug up and shined a huge [...]

Earlier this week, an extensive report by Kotaku made the rounds that dug up and shined a huge spotlight on the numerous and serious issues BioWare encountered in the development of its recent looter-shooter, Anthem. From development hell with the Frostbite engine, to in-fighting among different BioWare studios: the past couple years of BioWare sound like a mess. And this lines-up with reports from previous employees who have noted their time at the studio was draining and rough, to say the least. Both BioWare and EA went on to respond in official capacity, and both responses were pretty underwhelming and only yielded more criticism for the two.

That said, in addition to an official BioWare response, general manager Casey Hudson reportedly sent out an email to the internal staff that further addressed some of the concerns and issues raised by the original Kotaku story. Of course, this email was meant only for members of the team, but Kotaku was able to to get its hands on it.

The email begins by acknowledging the report, and the issues that it shines a light on. And unlike the official BioWare response -- which was pretty dismissive -- Hudson notes that the problems are real, and need to be addressed with urgency.

"I wanted to get a note out to you to share my thoughts on the Kotaku article and the online discussion it has raised," wrote Hudson. "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."

The email continues by providing more information on why BioWare decided not to comment on Kotaku's story, but release its own post about it 15 minutes after it went live. According to Hudson, BioWare didn't like and didn't want to be involved with the report's decision to allegedly single out specific members of the development team, opening them up to considerable public criticism.

"What we found out-of-bounds was the naming of specific developers as targets for public criticism," wrote Hudson. "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."

Hudson then went on to talk about the issues themselves, noting he was aware of them when he returned to BioWare, and has been working to fix them.

"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," wrote Hudson "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."

Hudson continued:

"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."

Hudson concludes the email noting he's committed to fixing the issues, making BioWare one of the best places to work in the world, and helping it get back to creating exceptional video game experiences.


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