The EA Play 2019 stream featured a brief, two-minute discussion of Anthem with one theme repeated often, and that was that going forward it would be the voice of the players that mattered most in designing the future of the game. Live Service Lead Producer Ben Irving sat down to chat about the future of the game.
Irving moved right into the Cataclysm event currently live on the Public Test Servers (PTS) for players to play and provide feedback. Irving was quickly grounded back into reality when prompted with “It’s been an interesting four months for Anthem. What have you guys learned, what are you pivoting [to], what’s happening?”
Irving stated that they have learned a lot of lessons recently, and that one of the most important was listening to player feedback. They worked to get the new PTS update out and then decided now they will wait to hear what the player tells them is good or needing improvement through feedback.
Essentially, Irving summarized the new direction for Anthem by stating that “It doesn't matter what we think. It only matters what the players think. They’re the ones playing the game. If they love it, great. If they don’t, they’ll tell us the feedback and we’ll do our best to address it.”
The interview with Irving wrapped as quickly as it began, and the two minutes of discussion were a momentary blip in the three and a half hour EA Play steam. What should players make of the information?
There are few major points to address. First, EA did not apologize for any of its actions, nor did they even acknowledge the stark difference between their proposed vision for the game and the watered-down buggy mess that was given to players.
We here at TheGamer have discussed at length why this is problematic. For Irving to say that suddenly it is the player’s feedback that matters means one of a few things. Either the statement is completely disingenuous, and Anthem will continue as it has, or it is genuine in its message, which begs the question: What the hell have they been doing with player feedback since the launch of the game?
Next is this idea that players will dictate design. Well, no, that is extremely problematic from a design perspective. Are players interested in designing a game, or do they want to experience the initial vision presented long ago? To pivot from completely ignoring the playerbase to now supposedly making key design choices on their opinions seems like a swing too far in the other direction.
Time will tell, for now the first and most basic step will be to see if player feedback is taken as seriously as they say it will in the current PTS for Cataclysm. Failing to do that would basically serve as the final nail in the coffin.