Bioware general manager Gary McKay has written about the studio’s 2021 experiences in a post called State of Bioware and Looking Ahead. It was not a year that began well for the developer, with publisher EA deciding to unceremoniously can Anthem at the start of the year—a decision that was arguably the right one, yet also a blow to the reputation of a developer that has rarely misfired so badly.
Things would improve, however, with Mass Effect: Legendary Edition in May. While this was always something of a banker, Bioware treated the games with the care they deserved (as the GTA remasters would show later in the year, this shouldn’t be taken for granted) and the reception was uniformly positive. In turn this saw anticipation for the future of the series (and Dragon Age) gaining momentum, fed by various teases and hints of what’s to come.
McKay writes about the challenges of the pandemic, and gives a vague outline of Bioware’s future working practices, which seem like most places to be a hybrid of office and home working—as part of which the studio will now begin hiring staff that can work remotely (previously, relocation was part of the deal).
“And of course, we remain hard at work on the next iterations of Dragon Age and Mass Effect,” writes McKay. “I’m seeing some incredible work from both teams. If you’re curious about Mass Effect, I’d encourage you to take a look at the poster we released on N7 Day. If you look closely, there are a handful of hidden treats; by my count, there are at least five surprises, all of which point to an amazing future in the Mass Effect universe.”
I’m no Mass Effect expert so have no idea what those five surprises are: But here’s the poster he refers to.
The big theme for Dragon Age, however, is this: We promise not to Anthem it. The rumour mill had suggested that, prior to the Anthem experience, the next Dragon Age would incorporate elements of a live service game. If that ever was the case, now it is not. “As for Dragon Age,” writes McKay, “we have a veteran group of talented developers working on the next iteration of the franchise. We are focused on a single-player experience that is built on choices that matter.”
‘Single-player focused’ is a phrase that you will hear variants of again and again. Bioware really wants you to know that this will not be a live service game. Which is nice!
Anthem is not mentioned, but its presence is felt. “When I took on the GM role, I talked about rebuilding our reputation, and that remains a huge priority,” writes McKay. “We are laser-focused on building back the trust of our fans and community, and we plan to do that by delivering the types of games that we are best known for and ensuring they are of the highest quality […] We want the launch of our games to be seminal moments in the industry.”