It looks like Anthem sold fewer than six million copies in 2019 fiscal year, EA looking to change how it launches games in wake of BioWare title's troubled release

It looks like Anthem sold fewer than six million copies in 2019 fiscal year, EA looking to change how it launches games in wake of BioWare title's troubled release

Publishing giant Electronic Arts has said that Anthem did not sell as well as it had hoped.

Speaking to investors - as transcribed by Seeking Alpha - CEO Andrew Wilson said that BioWare's sci-fi MMO "did not meet our expectations" upon launch, but does say the company believes in the game in the long term. 

During the firm's Q3 financial call with investors, CFO Blake Jorgensen said that EA pegged Anthem's sales up to the close of the 2019 fiscal year at between five and six million units.

In this most recent call, Wilson did say that players have spent over 150m hours in BioWare's MMO since launch.

Anthem launched on February 22nd, 2019. 

"We are committed to the live service for Anthem, and delivering for our community in this new IP over the long-term," the CEO said.

"The launch of Anthem in Q4 did not meet our expectations. However, we believe in the team at BioWare, and we also believe in what they set out to achieve with this game – building a new IP and melding genres to reach a new audience.

"Players have spent more than 150 million hours in Anthem since launch, and we’ve heard from them that the beauty and expanse of the world is stunning, and that traversing the environment in the Javelin suits makes for amazing gameplay.

"However, we’ve also heard feedback from our community about issues that began to manifest as the game reached scale, and that they want more depth and variety in the mission modes of the game. The team is now very focused on continued improvements to the game, and will then bring more content updates and in-game events that will enhance and expand the Anthem experience."

This is likely unsurprising given that Anthem saw a bevvy of bad press ahead of its launch with the public beta tests being dominated by technical issues. That was before an exposé from Kotaku revealed Anthem's chaotic development.

During its investor call, Wilson was asked by Barclays' Ryan Gee about Anthem's troubled launch - recognising that this wasn't an issue isolated to EA - and asking how QA was going to be handled moving forwards.

Wilson said that it is looking into changing how it releases games, pointing to beta launches it has been doing in Asia as well as admitting that the traditional way of marketing and launching games is no longer working in the West.

"What we're doing now is all the organisation is saying, okay, typically the way we would have marketed games like this is on this drip feed approach of releasing new content over time, build up kind of the appetite and the excitement for the game and then launch the game and it would run," Wilson said.

"As games as gotten bigger that system isn't working as well as it has done in years gone by.

"It's not just about changing the development process in the game, is not just about changing the QA process in the game, although both of those things are being changed dramatically inside of the organisation right now.

"But it also comes down to changing how we launch games and how we rolled out and you should expect we'll start to test things like soft launches, the same things that you see in the mobile space right now and it also comes down to changing how we communicate with players. And our entire marketing organisation now is moving out of presentation mode and into conversation mode and changing how we interact with players over time.

"So the day that we bring truly a global audience in supply, we have strong confidence that when the game is ready, two, that the infrastructure can handle the game at scale and three, that our players understand exactly what it is that they're going to be playing and have begin playing both on the day of launch and over time.

"We think that we are in a really good position. I think that gets really hard, if you don't have scale to do this in this new world, and so we feel very good about it. And over time we hope that we can lead from the front and help other developers and publishers change the way they do things as well."

PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

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 joined Steel Media as the editor for new site In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.