Here Are the Two Minutes EA Spent on Anthem During E3 2019

We knew things looked bad for Anthem’s presence at E3 this year when the game’s publisher, EA, posted a schedule for their EA Play press conference. It listed all the games they planned to cover, and not one of those games was the latest RPG from BioWare. Turns out, they tucked in a little snippet with Ben Irving, the game’s lead producer, between segments about their upcoming sports games. Like most things related to Anthem, it was a decent idea, executed poorly. Here’s the segment:

The reasonable person in me is totally fine with them basically coming out and saying they don’t necessarily have anything to show. Anthem clearly needs a lot of work, and that team should be spending their time doing said work, not trotting out a struggling game for an E3 presentation. The idea of publicly acknowledging that they’re working on it is fine.

The problem is in the message itself, and the execution of the presentation. Firstly, EA shouldn’t have posted this schedule.

No one person cares about all six of those games. They opened the show with the showstoppers: their two biggest games, and that was great. Most people checked out there. What was left, according to the schedule, were annual sports franchises and updates to old games. That means fans of Anthem had good reason to assume there would be no mention of the game at all, so it’s safe to assume those fans missed this little segment entirely. Given that EA didn't even highlight the game on the itinerary, it gives off the impression that it's not one of their priorities.

Why not just put the man on the damn stage? It’s your biggest game of the (fiscal) year!

The second big issue is the segment itself. Irving explained that they’re trying to lean more into what the players on the game’s public test servers think of it, which makes sense. The problem is they framed this segments as an honest chat about the state of the game, but you can actually see the teleprompter with Greg and Ben’s lines on camera for almost the entire time. I respect that these events are scripted and rehearsed, but Anthem is a game that needs the most candid, straightforward PR it could possibly have right now. When you’re literally having to answer questions like “Is there a future for Anthem?” to reassure the fans that they haven’t wasted their money, it comes across much more sincere if those fans can’t read the script telling you exactly which answer to give them.

The dialog between the people working their butts off on that game, and the players who spent their money only to be disappointed by it, needs to be much more transparent than this. Most of those players will likely never know this segment existed, and the ones who see it will be doing some form of either sighing or rolling their eyes because it’s just the same stuff every developer says when their ongoing, online game fails to meet expectations. We’ve already seen this same spiel about Destiny, Final Fantasy XIV, Street Fighter V, Battlefield IV, and the list unfortunately goes on and on. But it’s worse coming from EA because fans already have so many reasons not to trust them.

Anthem is better than its reputation will have you believe. I honestly, sincerely, think BioWare learned its lesson from the reception that game has received. All those other games I mentioned as having rocky starts eventually became great; one of those even became my all-time favorite game. That’s why I believe Anthem will be a much better game by the end of 2019. But the fans still deserve better than this.

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