Yet another one of Bioware’s founding fathers has left the game development studio behind titles like EA’s Mass Effect and the upcoming Anthem. The studio once held a good reputation in the industry for its story-tellers and RPG design experts, but their image slowly slid until most gamers began to view their titles as mediocre at best. Scores came in lower each time a new game was released with Dragon Age II, Mass Effect 3, and Mass Effect Andromeda standing out as some of their least enjoyed and lowest rated products.
This problematic scenario has caused many fans to believe that Anthem is something EA Games forced Bioware to create, seeing it as a ‘games-as-a-service’ product built for greedy cash-in functionality similar to other hollow titles EA has produced recently. This is based on evidence, not conspiracy, since Visceral Games was forced to create Battlefield: Hardline and their Dead Space IP was killed. Most fans also fear that if Anthem doesn’t turn out to be an extremely profitable project, EA Games will shut down the studio as they have with so many others before; most recently Visceral Games following the failure for Dead Space 3 to reach unrealistic goals set by EA.
Now, amid rumors that Anthem is seeing problems in development, the people who helped make Bioware what it is today are leaving. It’s understandable that those who remain a part of this company fear for their jobs and face unreasonable stress every day. After all, EA responded to Mass Effect Andromeda’s reception by immediately liquidating Bioware Montreal – an offshoot of the studio that was meant to expand its production capabilities and recruit new talent from the massive Montreal game development community.
VETERANS OF BIOWARE RESIGN
James Ohlen held the position of Senior Creative Director before his resignation earlier this week and received designer credits for Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Balder’s Gate I & II, Neverwinter Nights, the cancelled Shadow Realms, The Old Republic, and more. He is a Canadian who also holds American citizenship gained during his time spent at Bioware Austin in Texas, USA. He was involved with Anthem as its Narrative Director, stating that he has passed on that responsibility to Cathleen Rootsaert who replaced Drew Karpyshyn as Lead Writer of Anthem in March 2018.
Steven Gilmour (Lead Animator of Anthem) resigned from his position after being with the company for 10 years working as Lead Animator for Dragon Age Inquisition as well as holding the role of Director of Animation and Cinematics on many Bioware games including the original Mass Effect trilogy, Jade Empire, Neverwinter Nights, Knights of the Old Republic, and more.
Drew Karpyshyn (Lead Writer of Anthem) had left the company after a long career that included being Lead Writer on the first two Mass Effect games and returned as Anthem’s Lead Writer only to resign during March of this year, barely 3 months before EA’s disastrous E3.
Mike Laidlaw was with Bioware for 14 years and known to the world as ‘Mr. Dragon Age’ for his passion in the role of Creative Director for the series, though he also did work on Mass Effect and Jade Empire. This important member of the company resigned from his position in October of last year.
ANTHEM DELAYED TO 2019
These aren’t the only developers leaving Anthem and Bioware though, and despite what you may have heard these departures might not have been on good terms…
In 2014 alone, during development for Mass Effect: Andromeda, more than 12 people left Bioware. Many of them were not replaced, their roles left empty.
During investigation into what went wrong with Mass Effect: Andromeda, developers at Bioware surfaced accusations of ideas being stolen, sabotage, staff poaching, personal vendettas controlling business decisions, and disagreements in political belief outranking what was best for the games. Everything except name calling really. This was all going on between the two main teams at Bioware, and now they are both forced to work together on Anthem at one company.
IS ANTHEM A DESTINY CLONE?
On top of these problems, gamers will understand that large corporate publishers like EA Games value revenue and shareholder satisfaction above actual game quality, and set unrealistic goals that can kill a franchise (as EA has done many, many times – but that’s a story for another article, which we do plan to write soon).
EA Games are seen by most as scammers who squeeze all they can out of a studio then liquidate it, hoping their customers are too stupid to notice until it’s too late. Bioware was once thought to be immune to this, but with internal conflicts raging on like so many open fires, it seems their demise could be inevitable as well.