Anthem NEXT overhaul cancelled at BioWare

Anthem‘s full-game overhaul (dubbed Anthem NEXT) has been cancelled by EA, it was announced today by BioWare Austin’s Chris Dailey. The game will continue to exist in its current form, but development has now halted after the long-term efforts to rescue the live service game.

In the blog post announcing the cancellation, Dailey explained that the challenges of 2020 scuppered their efforts to dramatically revamp the core experience of Anthem, though he champions the efforts that had been made by the live team to improve the launch experience and introduce new content through 2019.

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He writes:

I know this will be disappointing to the community of Anthem players who have been excited to see the improvements we’ve been working on. It’s also disappointing for the team who were doing brilliant work. And for me personally, Anthem is what brought me to BioWare, and the last two years have been some of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my career.

Game development is hard. Decisions like these are not easy. Moving forward, we need to laser focus our efforts as a studio and strengthen the next Dragon Age, and Mass Effect titles while continuing to provide quality updates to Star Wars: The Old Republic.

To the Anthem community, thank you for your passion and creativity. Your feedback and suggestions most certainly help shape the team’s direction, and on a personal note, your kindness and encouragement were much needed last year.

Reports had emerged earlier in February that EA’s executives were about to decide Anthem’s fate, and it seems that they decided that it was time to cut their losses. It comes one year after the February 2020 announcement of the Anthem NEXT rework.

It’s also just days after the game’s second anniversary. Anthem launched on 22nd February to a generally poor reaction, struggling with performance, bugs, and generally failing to excite in the same way that rivals like Destiny 2 and The Division were managing at the time. The launch was soon followed by tales of the game’s troubled conception at BioWare, the company retreating into its shell after announcing that the Act 1 roadmap had been seriously delayed. As the continued development of the game was handed over to BioWare Austin, it took half a years before the game’s first event, Cataclysm, was added, followed by smaller seasonal in-game events. It was clear that something dramatic was needed to revive the game’s fortunes and the hope was that Anthem NEXT could be that, those plans shattered by the slower pace of development through 2020.

It’s one of the most notable failures of recent years, with the years of build up and hype leading to a messy and rushed game that showed potential, but ultimately failed to live up to expectations.

Since 2019, BioWare’s main studio has been hard at work on two major projects: a new Dragon Age game (don’t call it Dragon Age 4, though), and the recently teased return to the main Mass Effect series after the similarly infamous flop of Mass Effect: Andromeda.

Source: BioWare

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1 Comment

  1. A shame, but also seems like the most logical choice.

    Even with a gameplay overhaul, it’s hard to imagine NEXT would have rallied enough new/returning players to make the venture worthwhile.

    Better for BioWare to double down on ME/DA.

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