BioWare Loses Lead Producers for Both Dragon Age 4 and Anthem
In the past couple weeks, the lead producers of both Dragon Age 4 and Anthem have left BioWare.
Things haven’t been going well at BioWare recently.
In the past couple weeks, the lead producers of both Dragon Age 4 and Anthem have left the studio.
Just two days after Ben Irving, the lead producer of Anthem, left for another development job, Fernando Melo, lead producer of Dragon Age followed suit.
Irving left the studio on August 15. He took to Twitter to announce his departure writing, “After 8 amazing years at BioWare I have made the decision to move on and have accepted an exciting opportunity at another gaming company.”
(1/3) After 8 amazing years at BioWare I have made the decision to move on and have accepted an exciting opportunity at another gaming company. Since the first time I played Baldurs Gate many many years ago, BioWare was the dream place I always wanted to work.
— Ben Irving (@BenIrvo) August 15, 2019
Melo announced his departure via Twitter on August 17th:
(2/4) There’s really no easy way to sum up all the fantastic experiences and friendships across our studios, our partners, and in our community, that I’ve been so fortunate to have been a part of over these years.
— Fernando Melo (@DiscoBabaloo) August 17, 2019
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(4/4) To be clear, this is my own decision. I’ve been wanting to take some time to disconnect and explore a couple ideas for next chapter in my career.
So what’s next … well, watch this space :)
— Fernando Melo (@DiscoBabaloo) August 17, 2019
Melo worked as a senior producer on Dragon Age: Origins, Dragon Age 2, and the online portion of Mass Effect: Andromeda. He would then become the lead producer for Dragon Age 4.
BioWare was once the industry leader in narrative driven games, building its reputation on such titles as Knights of the Old Republic and Mass Effect.
Once EA acquired the studio back in 2007, the quality of BioWare games began to decline slowly with each new release. In the past few years alone, BioWare has endured 2 very high profile failures in Mass Effect: Andromeda, and Anthem.
Anthem was particularly troubling because it had so much hype surrounding it. Anthem had been billed as an immersive story driven looter shooter. What gamers got instead, was a very buggy combat system, poor loot system, and poor UI. (Related: BioWare Brings Out The Fire Extinguisher For Damage Control!)
Anthem released on February 22nd, 2019 and quickly became the worst failure in the studio’s history.
Some of the Anthem development team even admitted that the vision for the game was never clear. Stories about the game’s grueling development cycle, low workplace morale, and staff infighting quickly circulated amongst the gaming industry.
Subsequent patches have made Anthem better, but it’s a case of too little, too late.
Dragon Age 4
Despite the hit to BioWare’s reputation over the years, Dragon Age 4 has gamers excited. Hopeful fans believed it could signal a return to form for BioWare.
With the departure of its lead producer in the middle of the development cycle, those hopes may be fading. (Related: Fans Fear Political Influence in Upcoming ‘Dragon Age: The Dread Wolf Rises’)
However, the game also appears to have been muddied due to Anthem’s problems. According to Kotaku’s Jason Schreier, the original plans for Dragon Age 4 were scrapped. One source told him, “We were working towards something very cool, a hugely reactive game, smaller in scope than Dragon Age: Inquisition but much larger in player choice, followers, reactivity, and depth.” They added, “I’m sad that game will never get made.”
In fact, the report indicates much of the team on Dragon Age 4 was moved to put out fires on Mass Effect: Andromeda and later on Anthem. A small team did remain on Dragon Age 4, but they would be creating a new Dragon Age 4 with a focus on a live service component.
However, BioWare GM Casey Hudson would detail that “live” refers to “designing a game for continued storytelling after the main story.”
Reading lots of feedback regarding Dragon Age, and I think you’ll be relieved to see what the team is working on. Story & character focused.
Too early to talk details, but when we talk about “live” it just means designing a game for continued storytelling after the main story.
— Casey Hudson (@CaseyDHudson) January 25, 2018
There’s more questions than answers concerning BioWare’s future, but one thing is certain. If Dragon Age 4 fails to meet expectations, a lot of people will be out of work, and it will almost certainly put the studio in danger of being shuttered for good.
Most gamers will always hold fond memories of BioWare’s work, but it’s sad to see a once proud studio fall.
It will be interesting to see if BioWare can rally back.
What do you think? Join the discussion below.