After eight years of working with BioWare, Ben Irving, the lead producer of Anthem, is departing from the company in order to begin work with another unnamed developer. Some fans of the game are particularly upset with the timing of the departure, as Anthem has been in a bad spot for quite some time, and it has only been two months since E3 where improvements were touted as the main objective for the game.
However, the final part of his tweet indicates that he has not been an active part of the game for some time, “You all are in great hands with @Darokaz and @UNTDrew (and have been for some time now). I wish nothing but the best for all of you.” This points to a longer-term plan to step away from the active management of the game, and it is nice to see that this appears to have been a planned transition, so as not to affect the quality of the game in its attempt to improve.
(1/3) After 8 amazing years at BioWare I have made the decision to move on and have accepted an exciting opportunity at another gaming company. Since the first time I played Baldurs Gate many many years ago, BioWare was the dream place I always wanted to work.— Ben Irving (@BenIrvo) August 15, 2019
Fans should be, at the very least, skeptical. Both Andrew Johnson and Jesse Anderson are well known within the Anthem community, because their positions are community leads, and not lead producers.
Does this mean that Johnson and Anderson are transitioning to new roles, or is another lead coming in? The Tweet is ambiguous, and reads more like these community leads have been in charge of Anthem for some time, which is strange to say the least.
For any other game, these would be pertinent questions that demand answers, and yet for Anthem, the internet may simply offer a collective shrug. If the game were left without clear leadership, few would be surprised given how the game has been handled after its release.
As early as May this year, rumors were flying that perhaps Anthem would go free-to-play in an effort to relaunch the troubled title, as few considered it worth the price of other premium games. Then, Anthem saw its E3 presence slowly shrink. Players expected the game to be front and center during the EA play press conference, but it vanished from the schedule without explanation. We then received less than three minutes with Ben Irving himself discussing the future of Anthem.
Overall, the announcement feels a bit disjointed with questions demanding answers. Whatever lies ahead for Irving, we wish him the best, and we also hope that Anthem continues in its work to improve upon its initial vision.