I’m writing posts about Anthem for a few reasons.
- I really want BioWare to have some success.
- I like the coop squad shooter genre, in general
- I think the game is a bellweather for both EA and gaming-as-a-whole general direction, more so after Bungie split from Activision
Technically, we are 5 weeks out from general release (Feb 22) but we are also technically 2 weeks out from a VIP demo (Jan 25-27), and then a few days later a general demo (Feb 1-3 – a relatively important date). Which in years past would be called stress tests. Pretty close.
Anthem, for better or worse, is compared to Destiny and Warframe – sci-fi squad shooters. (To some extent, the Division as well, but that setting and focus on in-game PvP sets it apart.) Point is, it’s not new to the market, and it’s competing for eyeballs from games that already have an established user base. Which begs the question, what user base is BW expecting a) at launch and b) as monthly users?
As a general rule, people are stupid. Individuals not so much, but people for sure. Easily susceptible to peer pressure, and targeted media. The current state of the US/UK is a pretty solid example of that. Point here is simply that with a relatively minor investment in marketing, this game could be the general talk of the town. It’s barely getting a mention.
Sure, IGN has quite a few videos posted from the November alpha. It’s barely present on “anticipated games” lists. My gaming feeds get a mention spike every month or so, the most recent one relating to match-making-for-everything.
At this relative time previous, Destiny 2 (even the first one) was in a major media blitz. TV commercials, articles everywhere, near full saturation. Maybe EA has plans for Superbowl weekend (the Feb 1-3 date I mentioned earlier)? It would certainly hit a ridiculous amount of eyeballs, but the costs must be quite insane.
All I have are videos. The game looks faster and more movement based that it did before. There are still some rather massive bullet sponges. It does not appear that tactics ever matter, simply spamming every ability on cooldown. Everything is speculation pending actual gameplay experience, so I’ll withhold further comment.
I think the relative few bits of information we have about the game relate to managing expectations. It is always better to under-promise and over-deliver. Something that games like Monster Hunter excel at, while Destiny 2 / Division have paid a tremendous toll. Smart.
This summer, Casey Hudson mentioned that the game would never have PvP. A recent interview stated something a bit different, in that PvP may come at a later date. The game also comes with matchmaking for all activities. Of all things, these two items are clear lessons learned from the previous attempt at multi player games from BioWare and one of the largest criticisms with Destiny. How that is actually implemented is a different matter (either auto-LFG or some sort of group-posting option) will be interesting to see.
Yet a clear focus on one game mode (PvE) is a good thing. No game can launch with a kitchen sink approach. Do one thing, do it well. Grow when the opportunity presents itself.
There are also no lootboxes (smart) and all microtransactions are cosmetic driven. Maybe, just maybe, this is what will actually be delivered. I would love to know what I’m buying.
Speculation only here. I expect Anthem to have a fair share of issues at launch. That is simply BioWare’s MO (close to Bethesda). There will be a massive day 1 patch, and then more along the way.
I don’t expect gangbuster sales, but more of a sleeper hit. It seems more like it’s targeting word of mouth (which has been generally positive), rather than day 1 sales. An interesting approach.
My overall expectations for the game were extremely low this time last year. As the small bits of news have come out, BioWare has done a good job of addressing player concerns. It is a rather large departure from any new IP launch in terms of marketing, but perhaps this lower investment allows for larger returns. I do hope it has some success, again in terms of BioWare’s continued existence and in the ideal situation, a more sustainable/conscious approach to game releases.