Making it Official: Anthem on Hold
Warning: Some elements of the negativity drive might be spinning up in this one.
In case it wasn’t clear — I’ve put Anthem to one side for the moment. This started out in a fairly happy and OK space. The revised expectations I put on the game during the second demo weekend were all met if not actually exceeded.
And despite my warning at the top of this post, I’m not yet ready to make any dramatic style, ‘I’m done forever!’ type statements. I may not even be done for long. But without any doubt, for the moment at least, I am done.
I was near to just letting that fact slide until I was ready to revisit (likely in April after the alternate player progression, new stronghold and some other fun bits were added.)
Then this tweet happened:
Rather innocuous sounding if unaware of the context, I know. You may recall Isey’s post from a couple of days back urging BioWare to claim and own the increase to the loot drops people were seeing. Isey warned of the anger that would stem from taking this away a second time.
The video is well worth a watch for a summary of the reactions at the moment and the camps forming around the change.
I get what BioWare is after. They are making an effort to chase down a long tail of play through masterwork and legendary scarcity. They are following a philosophy of, ‘People will stay longer if there are still gear optimisations left to be made.’
What they’re perhaps not understanding yet, is that even with their loot improvements — their loot game simply isn’t strong or engaging enough to have that effect yet. Scarcity plus relatively uninspiring loot is becoming a player-churn driver rather than they player-retention driver they hoped for.
Once you’re decked out in ‘Somewhat OK’ masterworks in the Javelins you personally care about, the shine wanes fairly quickly. What should be the best part of a loot game — the refinement and optimisation of your build — is entirely missing or is too dispiriting to try chasing after for very long.
This could potentially be addressed in a number of ways, and a raw increase in the number of drops exchanged for your time invested is possibly the bluntest instrument in the toolbox. I acknowledge that. But it’s also the only one BioWare has right now.
They can clearly switch it up quite quickly, something that would not be true of introducing alternate, more delicate, options such as a reforging ability1 or adding more diversity to the masterwork/legendary effects and items pool.
But… Chad’s response really got under my skin in this instance. I’m not even 100% sure I can adequately articulate why, either, other than to say it is some awful mix of condescension while also being completely tone-deaf. There is a lack of empathy or understanding there so complete it makes me not want to hear from Chad again. Certainly he should refrain from tweeting again on issues like this, and possibly it should be reconsidered whether he is the right person for ‘Head of Live Service’.
*sigh* I’m a bit surprised at how much this tweet chain resonated and in such a negative way with me. Text is a poor communicator of ideas at times, and I’ve been trying to keep myself open to this fact. Interpretation of the emotive content (or lack thereof) is always going to be subjective at best. I acknowledge that. And yet I feel it so completely with this I know I’m going to be hard-pressed to be convinced.
Like I said earlier, I’ll be back to check on progress again. I’m not ‘done’ done, I’m not even ready to take the game off my ‘interested’ list. There are plenty of distractions (too many, in fact!) here now or coming soon. All the while though, I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for a strong April and May in Anthem-land!