Anthem is one of the hottest messes of this generation. While it never reached Fallout 76 or No Man's Sky levels of controversy and backlash, it, coupled with the mess that was Mass Effect: Andromeda's launch, left many concerned about the future of BioWare under Electronic Arts, who has shuttered a studio or two in its day. That said, according EA CEO Andrew Wilson, EA is sticking with both Anthem and BioWare, and while Wilson acknowledges the issues with Anthem, he believes BioWare can still turn things around and make the game into "something special and something great."
According to Wilson, one of the big problems of Anthem is it's stuck between two types of games: a traditional BioWare game and something more action-driven and modern. It doesn't really deliver on either front, leaving both hardcore BioWare fans disappointed and new gamers who have never heard of BioWare, but like games such as Destiny, also disappointed.
"We brought together these two groups of players who were making this emotional value calculation on two different vectors," said Wilson while talking to GameDaily. "One was traditional BioWare story driven content, and the other was this action-adventure type content. About the 30 or 40 hour mark they really had to come together and start working in on the elder game. At that point everyone kind of went, 'Oh, hang a minute.' Now the calculation is off."
"It's off because I've got a friend who sits in this other category of player. They want to play the game a certain way. I want to play the game a certain way. The promise was we can play together, and that's not working very well. Oh, by the way I'm used to 100 hours of BioWare story, and that's not what I got.' Or, 'I expected that this game would have meaningfully advanced the action component that we'd seen in games like Destiny before, and I don't feel like it has.'"
That said, BioWare isn't going anywhere, and EA still very much believes in it. In fact, EA still rates BioWare quite high, comparing the studio to Steven Spileberg, noting not everything the direct does hits, but everyone is at least paying attention. And this is true, but it's also increasingly not true the more BioWare fumbles.
More importantly though, and this may not sit well with classic BioWare fans well, Wilson says the industry and the audience it caters to is changing. And thus, BioWare needs to change and evolve with it.
"We're going to have our core BioWare audience that's been with us for a really long time. There are [also] kids today who are 12 years old who weren't around when BioWare started making games… and they have different expectations of what a BioWare game should be in the context of the world they've grown up in," said Wilson. "As a result of that, BioWare has to evolve and has to expand and has to test the elasticity of that brand. The teams at BioWare will continue to come to work every day and listen to their players old and new and seek to deliver on the promises they've made to those players. That's what you're seeing with Anthem today."
It's interesting to think EA believes it can appease both these audiences -- new, younger players and classic BioWare fans -- at the same time. Those are very, very different audiences who want radically different things. Anthem tried to appeal to both, and in the end appealed to neither, but clearly EA thinks it can crack the code that many in the industry can't.
As for Anthem specifically, Wilson suggests it could be around for generations, or at least that's the aim.
"So, if I think about Anthem on a seven to ten year cycle, it may not have had the start that many of us wanted, including our players," said Wilson. "I feel like that team is really going to get there with something special and something great, because they've demonstrated that they can."