It’s likely that many fans of RPG games were looking forward to BioWare’s next Dragon Age game. After all, the Canadian studios’ last role-playing game set in the fantasy world of Ferelden was a big success, selling millions of copies and winning many Game of the Year awards.
BioWare’s Dragon Age: Inquisition is a distant memory now, and despite its overall quality it can be argued that it was one of the weakest Game of the Year award winners in some time. Nonetheless, people have been waiting with bated breath for another Dragon Age game for years. BioWare, though, has yet to put out another game in the series despite the fact that more than 6 years have passed since Dragon Age: Inquisition hit shelves.
However, a new entry in the series was teased in late 2018, and later Electronic Arts (EA for short) announced that it wouldn’t be coming until April 2022 at the very least. The hype kept building though, even if BioWare’s recent track record has doused the hopes of its fans regarding their next Dragon Age game.
For starters, Mass Effect: Andromeda, the studios’ latest entry in its beloved Mass Effect series, was a flop. Releasing with serious launch issues, it just wasn’t a worthy sequel to the much-loved Mass Effect trilogy which had come before it.
But instead of doubling down on their next Dragon Age game to make sure it would turn out to be what the fans wanted when it hit shelves in the future, BioWare choose a different path. It focused instead on making Anthem, an online multiplayer game which EA was hoping would be a strong competitor for the Destiny series.
But in a market dominated by heavy hitters like Fortnite and Destiny 2, Anthem failed to gain much of a footing, and despite being able to generate more than $100 million US dollars for EA in its launch year, has now gone the way of the dodo.
You see, while some people were excited by the fact that BioWare was working on a reboot of Anthem (Anthem 2.0 if you want to call it that), EA recently pulled the plug on the reboot, meaning BioWare’s live service game won’t likely be getting anymore content updates like Fortnite and Destiny 2 do.
This means that EA does not wish to invest anymore in Anthem, technically making it the second big, high-profile failure of the BioWare team in the last five years.
So BioWare now really needs to score a hit with its next Dragon Age game, which as was recently reported on Eurogamer has been rebooted again and will now be a strictly single player game as the previous entries in the series.
This is because the Dragon Age game BioWare was working on until this point was focused on the online multiplayer experience and a live service model to bring in long-term revenue for EA (“Anthem with dragons” as some have put it), but this has now been scrapped, with the project returning to the original vision of a single player, story-driven game like Dragon Age: Inquisition (so in the end BioWare could stick to its promise that the next Dragon Age wouldn’t be like Anthem, then).
How good the game turns out to be in the end is still a mystery, taking into account that BioWare has lost some key people in the last year. Mike Darrah, who was a producer and director at BioWare who worked on Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age II, left the studio in December last year.
Also, creative director Mike Laidlaw waved goodbye to BioWare in 2017 after EA chose to make Dragon Age more multiplayer focused, with a focus on “live service” gameplay like Anthem.
There’s also the fact that long-term veteran Casey Hudson left for greener pastures at about the same time Mike Darrah did, meaning that the next Mass Effect game won’t be directed by the person who made the original trilogy a success. Here’s hoping next May’s remaster of the original games is up to scratch then.
There’s been much weeping and gnashing of teeth at BioWare in the last few years then, and while it once seemed that the studio could do no wrong, Mass Effect Andromeda and Anthem have proved otherwise.
So the Canadian studio really needs to double down on the next Dragon Age and Mass Effect and make sure these turn out to be a success. Otherwise, the unthinkable could happen and EA could end up shutting down BioWare for good. It’s happened before, with once seemingly untouchable EA studios like Visceral going the way of the dodo, so let’s hope BioWare can get out of the rough patch and once again deliver the kind of games that made it famous in the first place.