Anthem’s first two months since launch have been rough ones: Players have groused about stingy loot tables, crashes, repetitive quest structure, and a host of other annoyances in BioWare’s high-flying loot-shooter. But Chris Roberts, the founder of Cloud Imperium Games and the director behind its long-anticipated Star Citizen, says Anthem could still be a great game.
In an interview with Newsweek, Roberts compares the development of Star Citizen to that of Anthem, noting that since Star Citizen is a crowdfunded endeavor, CIG has been able to take a less deadline-driven approach to development than is required at a public company such as EA.
However, Roberts says both Anthem and Star Citizen are in the category of big online games that require a lot of iteration.
“I’ve played [Anthem], so I know there’s plenty of nice stuff in there, stuff that works, and then there’s some stuff that doesn’t work,” he said. “It’s like what we’re doing on Star Citizen. It’s just iteration. I hope EA and BioWare don’t give up on it, that they get their heads down, roll out and improve things to make it work.”
Roberts acknowledges that there are some games that are “totally broken,” but he says he doesn’t believe that’s the case with Anthem – just as it wasn’t the case with Hello Games’ No Man’s Sky, which disappointed players and critics on launch but gradually metamorphosed into a much better game with years of work and content updates.
“Part of the problem is that Anthem comes with the EA penalty so people are predisposed to hate on it because they feel EA messes everything up,” Roberts said.
Roberts also briefly discusses Jason Schreier’s expose on Anthem’s development for Kotaku, and suggests that there are likely people at BioWare who don’t feel the way that story’s sources do about the crunch culture at BioWare.
“Some people would have had a more positive experience than some of the people that were talking to him,” he said.
However, Roberts also says he’s worked to avoid crunch at CIG.
“The crunch that I remember when I was at Origin we just don’t do here,” he said. While certain staff like testers and the live release team wind up working overtime when there’s a new build of Star Citizen ready to push, Roberts says the company largely works on a 40 hours per week schedule.
Across the industry, Roberts says, “it’s better than it used to be. It can definitely get better too, but I feel like, because people don’t know the business so well, they can look at things out of context to get an impression that isn’t as nuanced as maybe it should be.”