Back when it was released in February, everyone had a fair bit of fun at Anthem's expense. There was a lot of material to work with. BioWare, a studio known for its strong character writing, made a loot shooter. The result was, predictably, a game that lacked a satisfying story or balanced loot mechanics. Then horror stories came out about the game's development, revealing a culture of crunch that sparked an industry-wide discussion. EA remained "committed" in public but said in corporate calls that the game underperformed. Despite all of that mess, however, Anthem spent several months being 2019's fifth highest-selling game.
The surprising report comes from VG247's analysis of NPD Group findings. These reveal that Anthem held the fifth top-seller spot from its release on February 22 all the way until August. Its four betters were Mortal Kombat 11, Kingdom Hearts 3, Madden NFL 20, and Tom Clancy’s The Division 2. Even now it still sits at seventh place due to the September releases of NBA 2k20 and Borderlands 3.
The news comes as a shock after what seemed like a very mishandled launch. Strong launch sales for Anthem could be believed simply from the BioWare name alone. However, BioWare immediately started shooting itself in the foot by shipping an online multiplayer game with technical issues aplenty and iffy servers.
Those who stuck it out in hopes that the game would be fine after several patches only got more disappointment over the summer. The Cataclysm event that was supposed to be the game's big update was delayed. Its lead producer left in August. Now, the future rests in BioWare's plan to delay all new content in favor of fixing Anthem's foundation. That's the smart plan, but gamers aren't known for being patient.
All in all, Anthem doesn't have the legacy of a top-seller. But the numbers don't lie. Somewhere out there are a good number of people who believed in what BioWare was doing, and didn't let the awful reviews sway them. Hopefully they were happy with their purchase. On the other hand, it would be nice if they weren't so BioWare can get back to making Mass Effect and Dragon Age.