BioWare has responded to claims of “problems in the development of Anthem and some of [its] previous projects” with both a public statement and an internal memo to all staff.
A detailed investigation by Kotaku depicted an unhealthy culture at the acclaimed studio and included specific references to senior staff from a number of anonymous sources that intimated the studio lacked focus and drive throughout much of Anthem’s pre-production and production processes.
“We’d like to take a moment to address an article published this morning about BioWare, and Anthem’s development. First and foremost, we wholeheartedly stand behind every current and former member of our team that worked on the game, including leadership,” the public statement on the official blog said. “It takes a massive amount of effort, energy and dedication to make any game, and making Anthem would not have been possible without every single one of their efforts. We chose not to comment or participate in this story because we felt there was an unfair focus on specific team members and leaders, who did their absolute best to bring this totally new idea to fans. We didn’t want to be part of something that was attempting to bring them down as individuals. We respect them all, and we built this game as a team.
“We put a great emphasis on our workplace culture in our studios. The health and well-being of our team members is something we take very seriously,” it added. “We have built a new leadership team over the last couple of years, starting with Casey Hudson as our GM in 2017, which has helped us make big steps to improve studio culture and our creative focus. We hear the criticisms that were raised by the people in the piece today, and we’re looking at that alongside feedback that we receive in our internal team surveys. 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. Making games, especially new IP, will always be one of the hardest entertainment challenges. We do everything we can to try and make it healthy and stress-free, but we also know there is always room to improve.
“As a studio and a team, we accept all criticisms that will come our way for the games we make, especially from our players,” it concluded. “The creative process is often difficult. The struggles and challenges of making video games are very real. But the reward of putting something we created into the hands of our players is amazing. People in this industry put so much passion and energy into making something fun. 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.”
Internally, however, BioWare general manager Casey Hudson sent a staff memo to staff stating the problems “are real” and asserting studio management agreed “it’s [their] top priority to continue working to solve them”.
“The article mentions many of the problems in the development of Anthem and some of our previous projects,” Hudson said. “And it draws a link between those issues and the quality of our workplace and the well-being of our staff. These problems are real and it’s our top priority to continue working to solve them.
“What we found out-of-bounds was the naming of specific developers as targets for public criticism,” he added. “It’s unfair and extremely traumatizing to single out people in this way, and we can’t accept that treatment towards any of our staff. That’s why we did not participate in the article and made a statement to that effect.
“We updated our studio structure around a matrix so that department directors can be fully focused on individual career support and well-being,” he added. “We are defining better role clarity so that people can succeed better against clear expectations. And we are putting in place production changes that will provide for clearer project vision as well as a significant post-production period that will further relieve pressure and anxiety on teams during development.”