BioWare has canceled the 2.0 version of Anthem, referred to as Anthem NEXT, as revealed in a blog post today.
The post — written by Christian Dailey, Executive Producer at BioWare Austin — cited the COVID-19 pandemic, as one of the main reasons for the update's cancellation. In addition, ceasing development on Anthem will allow the team to focus more on the upcoming Mass Effect and Dragon Age games.
BioWare stated that the Anthem live service will be kept “running as it exists today.”
“2020 was a year unlike any other however and while we continue to make progress against all our game projects at BioWare, working from home during the pandemic has had an impact on our productivity and not everything we had planned as a studio before COVID-19 can be accomplished without putting undue stress on our teams,” said Dailey.
Dailey said BioWare will now be able to “laser focus” on the development of its upcoming games. “Game development is hard,” he said. “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.”
Anthem first debuted in 2019 and received mixed reception, with the overwhelming consensus being that it was a flawed game that lacked a clear direction. It had many bugs and glitches, making it apparent it needed more polish. Though, many had hoped it would turn into a similar No Man's Sky or Destiny narrative — wherein the game eventually would become good after a series of updates. That's what the Anthem NEXT version was supposed to be.
In speaking with IGN, EA Chief Studios Officer Laura Miele dove deeper into the cancellation of Anthem NEXT. “We’ve believed in Anthem every step of the way, we’ve invested in this game for close to a decade and we’re proud of the work the team has done,” Miele said. “Starting with the game’s launch two years ago, the team at BioWare has listened to player feedback and brought updates and improvements to the game.”
“However, 2020 and 2021 are unprecedented years when it comes to game development, so we must prioritize both the player experience and what’s best for the people working on these games. We want to make sure BioWare is able to focus on making the next Dragon Age and Mass Effect games the best they can be, while also continuing to provide quality updates to [Star Wars: The Old Republic]. That’s ultimately the best way we can be in service to our players, focusing on these fan favorites and delivering on the communities’ expectations.”
“Anthem was a creative risk and its challenges have taught us a lot about game design and even how we can improve our development process. This not only benefits developers, but players as well.”