BioWare refuted reports of forced crunch in the development of “Anthem” in a blog post on Tuesday but acknowledged it was looking into the game’s development and that there is room to improve.
The company released the statement in response to a Kotaku article about the development of the online action-RPG.
“Anthem’s” years-long development cycle was filled with constant upheavals, according to the Kotaku report. Many features weren’t finalized or implemented until the final months. There were big narrative reboots, design overhauls, team shakeups, and intense “crunch” periods. Plus, limitations with “Anthem’s” Frostbite engine reportedly caused numerous headaches.
“We’re trying to make this huge procedural world but we’re constantly fighting Frostbite because that’s not what it’s designed to do,” one developer told Kotaku.
Many of the developers who spoke to Kotaku said they suffered from depression and anxiety. Co-workers had to take doctor-ordered “stress leave” that lasted weeks or months. In its statement on Tuesday, BioWare said it takes the health and well-being of its team members very seriously.
“Anthem” launched on PC and consoles on Feb. 22 and received mixed reviews from critics. Variety’s own Dan Solberg called it a “disjointed and clunky experience,” noting its “user-unfriendly design” and technical issues.
BioWare ended its statement on Tuesday by criticizing Kotaku for reporting on its alleged work conditions, saying, “We don’t see the value in tearing down one another, or one another’s work. We don’t believe articles that do that are making our industry and craft better.”
The refutation comes as there is a growing push for more workers rights and unionization from many members of the gaming community, including the grassroots organization Gamer Workers Unite. Even the AFL-CIO, America’s largest labor organization, recently asked games industry employees to fight for adequate pay and sensible work hours.
“This is a moment for change,” said AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer Liz Shuler. “It won’t come from CEOs. It won’t come from corporate boards. And, it won’t come from any one person. Change will happen when you gain leverage by joining together in a strong union. And, it will happen when you use your collective voice to bargain for a fair share of the wealth you create every day.”