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EA delays Anthem but insists it isn't a delay, addresses Star Wars Battlefront II missteps

EA delays Anthem but insists it isn't a delay, addresses Star Wars Battlefront II missteps

Brand new sci-fi online multiplayer game Anthem has been pushed back from its autumn 2018 release date to early 2019.

Publisher EA confirmed this to The Wall Street Journal (below), but insists that a game being pushed back - or 'delayed' - does not constitute a delay.

This follows Kotaku reporting that the game was being pushed back last week, something referenced in EA's statement. That news story said that this was due to pressure to make a top notch game following the sub-par Mass Effect Andromeda - EA's retort falsely says this story was to do with development being behind schedule.

EA's decision to bump the game back - or 'delay it' - was to do with the new IP potentially getting more of a warm reception during a quieter part of the year. Doing this will also lower marketing overheads and with fewer releases, consumers might be more inclined to give something new a shot.

Speaking to investors - as transcribed by Seeking Alpha - CEO Andrew Wilson said that this not-delay was a case of EA attempting to balance its portfolio.

"We've chosen to launch Anthem in Q4 and the date is really determined by portfolio of balancing consideration not for product readiness reasons. It's tracking well on its development milestones," he said.

"We are really confident of its ship date. We are really excited by the way the next battlefield is shaping up and it might set - it probably doesn't make sense to launch Anthem right up next to it. And when you think about Anthem as a brand new IP, we also believe it make sense to give it its own launch window so that we can give us a focus and attention that it deserve and give it some free air."

To fill this gap in EA's schedule, there's a new Battlefield game coming out in October. Expect more information about that at EA Play this year.

Speaking of Battlefield, 2016's Battlefield 1 has more than 25m players, while The Sims 4's community grew 35 per cent year-on-year. For some reason EA doesn't reveal its user figures for this title, despite them being revealed to PCGamesInsider.biz during an interview last year and EA PR trying to get us to remove them from story.

PC and console downloads were behind of $260m, a dip of 27 per cent year-on-year driven by weaker Battlefront II sales versus Battlefield 1's strong performance.

Asked about Battlefront II's performance, Wilson said that that game's rollout was a "learning opportunity" and said that there were teething issues around keeping the community together long-term with content after launch.

What happened was a massive fan backlash, but Wilson is grateful to the 'passionate' fans for keeping the company in check. Passionate.

"Given the newness of this design, we knew that player feedback during the pre-launch testing period would be key," he said.

"Having made adjustments based on sentiment and community data coming out of the beta and early trials, we ultimately made the decision to pull in game purchases out of the game prior to launch. We never intended to build an experience that could be seen as unfair or lacking clear progression, so we removed the feature that was taking away from what fans were telling us was an otherwise great game. We are fortunate to have such passionate players that will tell us when we get it right, and when we don't."

The company isn't holding back from microtransactions moving forwards, either, saying that it will be providing 'optional digital monetisation'.

"Going forward, we believe that live services that include optional digital monetisation, when done right, provide a very important element of choice that can extend and enhance the experience in our games," Wilson said.

"We're committed to continually working with our players to deliver the right experience in each of our games and live services."


Editor - PC Games Insider

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he was hired to launch PCGamesInsider.biz for Steel Media before departing the firm in October 2019.

He has also written for GamesIndustry.biz, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.

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