Reports are beginning to surface that the upcoming persistent MMO from BioWare and EA, called Anthem, may not be going quite as well in development as some team members were hoping. Reports indicate that it may be delayed into 2019 for home consoles and PC.
Kotaku states that just over a handful of developers talked to them under anonymity, expressing that the fall 2018 release was never viable, even though it was announced last year during E3 as having a fall 2018 release window. BioWare is pouring a lot of time and resources into the project as one last AAA ditch effort to prove the studio's worth coming off the abysmal sales of Mass Effect: Andromeda, which not only put the Mass Effect series on ice, but also saw the dissolution of BioWare Montreal.
The developers explained to Kotaku that there's a lot of pressure to deliver on this project because BioWare's fate could hang in the balance. The report indicates that the studio is pulling any and everyone from across the BioWare ecosystem to help get Anthem finished as soon as possible. The game has supposedly been in production since 2012, but for years it languished in pre-production, with only bits and pieces coming together as the developers had to reconfigure DICE's Frostbite game engine to accommodate the MMO persistent universe that BioWare was building for the game.
Typically, gutting an engine and re-purposing it for something it wasn't built for takes, on average, between three and five years. It took Reloaded Productions around three years to upgrade to a newer version of the Unreal Engine and reconfigure it to support a stable count of 100 players per instance. It also took Cloud Imperium Games around three years to gut and re-purpose the CryEngine to accommodate procedural galaxy creation for Star Citizen.
Gutting engines takes years, especially to get them to do things that they weren't originally designed to do. In the case of Anthem, BioWare is attempting to create a bigger version of Destiny; a large, open-world environment themed around using exosuits to explore an alien world, take on quests, and loot for new stuff.
Previous to its announcement, EA was adamant not to present as another BioWare RPG, something that the company is renown for. Instead, it was being marketed as a persistent, multiplayer third-person shooter.
While it may have seemed like a safe bet before Mass Effect: Andromeda became a running internet meme, and Destiny 2 managed to weed out its own player base, it's now looking a lot more risky when the company that Anthem keeps are games that either didn't do too well or are quickly losing favor with the community, such as Star Wars: Battlefront II.
The Kotaku report suspects that the upcoming game will launch no later than March 2019, according to what the anonymous developers from BioWare have passed on. However, if that's true, then it means that BioWare only has four additional months to polish up Anthem for release, and if the game won't be ready by fall of 2018, it means there's going to be some serious crunch time to make that March 2019 release window. Mass Effect: Andromeda had the exact same delay, and the extra four months didn't help enough to stave off the poor review scores.