BioWare Responds to Scathing Kotaku Anthem Article

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Published by Digz 3 weeks ago , last updated 3 weeks ago

A scathing report from Kotaku was responded to fairly promptly, within fifteen minutes to be precise, by BioWare leading to claims on social media that BioWare didn't even read the article but more so put out a blog post to retort to the snippet Jason Schreier sent them before posting the article. 

The game has come under a lot of criticism since release for the amount of bugs and content that is broken within the game, BioWare released a roadmap which we wrote an article on previously where Chad Robinson, Head of Live Serice at BioWare said "we understand that we have lots of work ahead of us to continue to improve the game." I personally backed BioWare to address the players concerns and use their community driven engagement to help them overcome any obstacles, I still back them to do that with Anthem.

The article from Jason Schreier does look at the games failure, but in a systematic way that portrays a general confusion around the entire game development cycle. From changing the title of the game from "Beyond" and even having T-Shirts printed with "Beyond" on them just prior to E3 2017, to general indecision and lack of management in the concept, design and production stages of the game development - the article written interviews 19 people at who worked on the game either directly or indirectly looks at those issues. One issue in particular was the use of the Frostbrite engine that hampered the BioWare developers to get the most out of it. The article also highlights how members of staff went off on stress leave, and one person even stated that "depression and anxiety are an epidemic within BioWare."

The stress part of game development at BioWare seems to have occurred regularly according to the article, where someone could not even count the number of "stress casualties" they had on Mass Effect: Andromeda or Anthem. Jason painted a picture of an organisation that is indecisive and lacks direction during the game development cycle and pushes everything in the last three months to ensure the game is released as scheduled, it has worked before to make fantastic games like the Dragon Age series, but for the last two games it hasn't worked. The game was constantly evolving and changing, well isn't that a game does during the development? New ideas pose themselves and they are picked up? I don't think the article highlighted that concepts do change, some games come out completely differently than what was or originally thought of but maybe there could have been more direction to help this. The article argues that the reason for the lack of direction is there was so many changes in leadership during this time, all having new ideas taken from other games at BioWare that were a success, writers were coming in and out and the story was rebooting and changing every year or so. At BioWare the writing is the most important part of their games, that is what they are known for, if that fails everything goes.

Mark Darrah came in to steer the ship and it is stated that he just made decisions, finally came a leader who had an answer, a simple "yes" or "no" "carry on" or "stop." That's one of the reasons the game shipped as it is, without him it could have been worse. People were said to be leaving in droves and those who stayed wish they had just a few more months to work on little edits and bugs to polish the game a bit more. In the end, the game had been in development for around seven years and it had to release then to hit EA's fiscal targets. Remember we have seen the release of The Division 2 and other grand FPS titles in the last six months so EA wanted this game out. 

BioWare did respond to the article in a blog post but chose not to comment directly for the article because it cited individuals by name and they don't want to get into that. BioWare have have been pretty honest in their response and said that they aren't perfect, but will work at trying to perfect not only their games but attempting to make developing games stress free. 

Making games, especially new IP, will always be one of the hardest entertainment challenges. We do everything we can to try and make it healthy and stress-free, but we also know there is always room to improve. As a studio and a team, we accept all criticisms that will come our way for the games we make, especially from our players. The creative process is often difficult. The struggles and challenges of making video games are very real.

They finish off by thanking the fans and players, and just before that leave a sting against the article itself:

We don’t see the value in tearing down one another, or one another’s work. We don’t believe articles that do that are making our industry and craft better.

We all think making games is easy and fun, it can be, but when you're making AAA titles for companies that bring in billions it is going to be stressful, and that's why we here at GameFront love and appreciate every single game made by every single developer. Mistakes will be made, lessons learnt but I know and fully support BioWare to make good on their promises to fix the issues that Anthem has and do the game, the fans, and their hard working employees proud. 

Comments on this Article
3 weeks ago by Mikey

The kotaku article is very well written. The response from BioWare? Not so much. Hmm.

3 weeks ago by Digz

Agreed, it was a hasty response to a fairly damaging article. Happens when you go into damage limitation mode and panic stations set in. Not a great time for BioWare but as a fan of the studio I do support them to turn things around, not just for us but for their employees too.