There are varying opinions on Anthem’s launch, though they mostly stay in the range of “disappointment” to “utter catastrophe.” Still, some players aren’t ready to give the game up just yet, and according to EA CEO Andrew Wilson, neither is the publisher.
In a wide-ranging interview with Mike Futter of GameDaily.biz that touched on everything from EA’s culture to the future of loot boxes, Wilson discussed Anthem’s launch and how he sees the game developing. In typical CEO interview fashion, he only gave the slightest acknowledgment of the game’s failings (saying that “it may not have had the start that many of us wanted”), focusing instead of how it could develop.
According to Wilson, the main problem with Anthem is an issue with expectations. Some players came to the game wanting a traditional Bioware game with all the storytelling depth that implies, while others wanted a more action-oriented experience. In Wilson’s estimation, the problem came when players found that the game wasn’t catering to their specific needs.
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.
It’s a pretty dubious assertion, to be honest. Players had plenty of complaints that had nothing to do with those kinds of expectations — everything from rampant bugs to repetitive gameplay — but he’s at least right that most people peg the endgame as Anthem’s biggest problem at the moment.
What’s more interesting than Wilson’s diagnosis of the game’s problems is his response to them.
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.
Wilson told GameDaily that the solution is to let BioWare find a way to bridge the two sides of Anthem’s audience — the narrative fans and the action fans — rather than toss the whole thing out and start over or declare it dead. As the article points out, Star Wars Battlefront II, another EA-published game, also had a frosty reception before turning itself around. Other games have had even more miraculous recoveries, Final Fantasy XIV being the canonical example. Who knows if anything so dramatic is also possible for Anthem, but it may not be time to bury it just yet.