It’s not a secret that Anthem isn’t doing well, even being ignored for the most part at this year’s E3, but EA CEO Andrew Wilson still believes in it.
Talking to GameDaily, Andrew Wilson says that the game isn’t doing well because they tried to appeal to two different audiences. Even though the game is in a rough place, he believes that the game has a bright future ahead.
Wilson talks about the two different audiences, "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.”
This is a fair point, we’re used to BioWare creating long and immersive stories. It also brings us back to the fact that the development team for most of the development time didn’t know what they are making. Not knowing who your product really is for or trying to make it broad enough to appeal to a larger audience most often ends with a mediocre product that nobody really feels strongly about.
The concerning part of that statement is that it sounds like he believes that’s the main reason the game failed. He doesn’t talk about the load times, the boring story, lack of content, the loot or any of the other things the players are pointing out, he believes the problem is essentially the players themselves. The players don’t know what they’re playing, it’s a mix between different genres and as such they aren’t enjoying it.
Later on he reaffirmed his belief that the game can be turned into something great.
“If we believed that at the very core the world wasn't compelling people, if we believed at the very core that the characters weren’t compelling for people, or the Javelin suits weren't compelling, or traversing the world and participating in the world wasn't compelling then provided we hadn't made promises to our players... we might not invest further. IP lives for generations, and runs in these seven to ten year cycles. 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. I feel like that team is really going to get there with something special and something great, because they've demonstrated that they can.”
That is most definitely an optimistic view and again he talks about the suits, the characters and being part of the world, but he fails to mention the really important part, gameplay itself. Javelins and flying them can be the best thing in the world, but if the gameplay itself isn’t smooth and interesting, no amount of Javelins can save the game.
Andrew Wilson makes it clear at this point that he knows exactly what gamers want and what makes a good game, so he continued by saying that it’s up to BioWare to change and adapt.
“What the BioWare teams are thinking about is that we're going to build a lot of different types of games. We're going to have our core BioWare audience that's been with us for a really long time. There are 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. As a result of that, BioWare has to evolve and has to expand and has to test the elasticity of that brand.”
This entire statement is rather confusing, if these “12 year-olds” weren’t around when BioWare started making games, how can they have ANY expectations of what a BioWare game should be. A more appropriate way of saying this is that kids are playing certain extremely popular games and want to play more games like those, so EA expects BioWare to make games that fit those expectations so they can milk as much money from current trends. BioWare has a genre they are good at, you can’t make them develop a game that doesn’t fit them, if you do, the game will be a flop.
The other part of this statement that really makes you scratch your head is making games specifically for 12 year-olds. Anthem does have a Teen rating by the ESRB, but I’m pretty sure that the people over at PEGI would like to have a word with EA, since Anthem has a PEGI 16 rating.
This also brings to question the recent events where EA’s VP of legal and government affairs, Kerry Hopkins, while talking about loot boxes, insisted that their games aren’t developed in such a way to attract kids and that they have appropriate ratings meaning it’s the parents responsibility to keep an eye on their kids if they already bought the game for them.
Time will tell how long will EA be able to keep up with these tactics, but with how things are going, not a lot of gamers will be sad to see them go.