Crunch at Bioware contributed to issues with Anthem and Mass Effect: Andromeda

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Anthem’s struggles are part of a much bigger problem at BioWare according to exposé posted on Tuesday, April 2, by Kotaku. Developers came forward to the publication under the promise of anonymity to detail the terrible work conditions that contributed to the issues behind the studio’s latest sci-fi shooter, as well as Dragon Age: Inquisition and Mass Effect: Andromeda.

It’s no secret that the launch of Anthem was rocky, with many reviewers and players citing that it felt like a game that was released way too soon. Tweets and blog posts from the developer’s upper management have been trying to dispel concerns and criticisms of the game, claiming that its issues are mostly a result of Anthem being such a massive online game, but some anonymous insight from developers who worked on the project suggest it’s much deeper than that.

From the use of EA’s controversial Frostbite engine to poor direction from upper management and understaffed teams, Anthem developers were subjected to work conditions that made them so miserable that many were forced to take doctor-mandated leave for months with some never returning. These conditions resulted in several of BioWare’s most experienced developers leaving as well.

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And yet, this seems to be another case of crunch culture — the same issue we heard about leading up to the launch of Red Dead Redemption 2. According to the report, it became a sort of tradition for BioWare for its games to have a slow start in development and then rapidly accelerate near the end, resulting in laborious hours where everyone would hope it would all come together. But this approach is proving to be unsustainable.

BioWare quickly released a blog post titled Anthem Game Development where an anonymous author came to the studio’s defense and claimed that no complaints regarding the crunch culture were brought to their attention: “We put a lot of focus on better planning to avoid ‘crunch time,’ and it was not a major topic of feedback in our internal postmortems.”

The article ended by dismissing the report that included words and criticism from BioWare’s own employees: “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.”

If you are a developer that struggles with crunch culture and poor compensation, we want to hear from you and can offer anonymity. Reach our Gaming Editor Felicia Miranda directly at fmiranda@digitaltrends.com.

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