Matchmaking problems plague Anthem as its playerbase dwindles

    
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Poor, poor Anthem. Even as BioWare continues scrambling to perform triage on the ailing online shooter, it appears that the game is continuing to hemorrhage players at an alarming rate, resulting in matchmaking problems that are compounding the game’s existing issues. A recent report from Forbes details the ongoing decline of the game’s playerbase, noting that matchmaking for activities — particularly on higher difficulties — often fails to matchmake players into full teams, presumably due to a lack of players in queue.

A plethora of posts on the game’s subreddit corroborate this information: “Tried to do a GM2 Stronghold, no one else is with me, so I twice attempt to join an ongoing one — there isn’t anyone playing a Stronghold,” one player posts, adding, “Help, I feel like the only Freelancer left.” There’s no shortage of similar stories. Another Reddit user conducted an unofficial survey of the subreddit and found that out of the 1,650 players who responded, 52.7% reported that they had not logged into the game in the past two weeks. Of the roughly 47% of players who said they had logged in, nearly half of them reported that they had spent only a total of one to ten hours in the game.

In the wake of news that many of the features for the “Act 1” portion of the game’s planned content updates have been postponed for an unknown amount of time despite (or perhaps because of) the “crunch-heavy” environment at BioWare, it seems that Anthem players are hastily abandoning ship. It may not be too late just yet, though; in the aforementioned survey, 51.5% of the players who reported they had quit playing Anthem said that they would consider returning depending on future updates. It’s clear that many players, including our own Tyler, like — or at least want to like — the game, but at the rate things are going, there’s no telling if BioWare will be able to turn the ship around in time.

Source: Forbes via Reddit, /r/AnthemTheGame (1, 2, 3, 4). Thanks, Schlag!
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Mewmew
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Mewmew

I honestly think the whole subscription service (EA Access and Origin Access) hurt the game more than helped it.

People only had to pay $15 to get the game in their library and they got early access to it as well.

So they pay $15 a month, and don’t actually own the game. If they decide they don’t like it (which a lot did) and got the Access program specifically for that game, they just cancel their EA/Origin access and no longer have access to the game.

Those that kept the service, well they haven’t actually invested any money into *that* game so they go off and play one of the great many other games they get to play with the service.

People will keep playing if they make an investment even while they wait for things to be fixed up. The Access programs took that investment out, plus took actual ownership of the game out. Nothing really invested, no reason to wait out the issues.

I’m not saying that’s the reason it is faltering, obviously if the game was done in a different way it would have soared and kept that popularity no matter how people were accessing it. But in the wake of the issues it has and a game that didn’t meet expectations, that access program really didn’t help matters as far as the population goes.

whowutwhen
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whowutwhen

DoA

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Kickstarter Donor
Alex Willis

Sunk cost fallacy is in full effect for both players and the studio. Both would do well to cut losses and find greener pastures.

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MrNastyButler

Might be time for Bioware to really take stock and evaluate about shutting the game down to finish development on it, then relaunch the game. Done right, it can really help a game.

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Sray

That’s the kind of trick that will only work once every decade, or longer; and Final Fantasy XIV is still fresh enough in people’s minds that it’s probably too soon for someone else to try. It’s a seriously risky move that at this point in time because releasing barely playable “live service” games has become habit for AAA publishers, as opposed to it being an anomaly when Square-Enix did it. Shutting Anthem down to work on it and then relaunch will probably just kill the game from backlash, while also wasting a lot of time and resources on it. At this point, it’s better that they fix it live and hope to rebound with a new marketing push.

Dantos
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Dantos

Also FF14 was part of the Company’s flagship IP with 30 years of history behind it. Anthem is a brand new IP that would be much easier to just cut it free and move on to something else if Bioware is kept around.

Mewmew
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Mewmew

Considering the number of people who got the game through EA or Origin Access and don’t actually own it, that trick may work with this game.

I think that trick can work far more often than you think as long as the game actually comes out the other end being something far better that people actually like. There also needs to be a nice chunk of new development time happening while they fix it up. They need at least a year or two before that the new version comes out and it needs to be much much better when it arrives.

I can’t imagine EA doing this though. The amount of money they’ve dumped into it already, the amount of time and investment, I’d say they’d be more likely to put it in a dumpster and burn it than to pour that much more money into it.

They were developing this thing for 7 years already. Sure, that wasn’t in full production mode the entire time or anything, but still, that’s a lot of time and money invested in EA’s eyes. If the people couldn’t get it right in the amount of time they had, I don’t think they’d be willing to give them even more money and time now to try again. Eventually they just have to think about cutting their losses.

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Sray

Like I already said: when Square-Enix pulled off the trick, AAA publishers didn’t regularly release barely playable games; they didn’t abuse the crap out of our wallets with endless microtransactions in full retail games; and not every game was a “live service”. Today, they do all of these things almost without fail; and consumers are far less willing to give them the benefit of the doubt (and rightfully so). Consumer trust is too battered, and there are far too many games coming out every single day, for anyone to wait for -let alone put up with- a mega budget game going dark for a year or two in order to retool, and maybe not suck upon re-release. I know that on this site there’s a crowd that experienced this done to positive effect with FFXIV, but the general public is more likely to set the internet on fire than welcome this with open arms.

But please stop and really think about the precedent you’re asking AAA publishers to set. That it’s okay to hype the crap out of a game for years before you’ve even started real production on it. It’s okay to go hog wild on the pre-order bullshit. And that it’s okay to release the game (loaded up with microtransactions at that) in an unpolished and content starved state. All of this is okay because after you’ve collected up several million dollars in game sales, service subscriptions, and microtransactions from the hot mess you’ve cranked out in a hurry, you can just pull the game and start all over; thus negating all your risk because now this idea means AAA companies can literally build the games AFTER customers have paid for them and gotten to play nothing more than a glorified demo for several months. Furthermore, if the company should go out of business, or (more likely) have a change in management that simply pulls the plug on the game during the retooling, then consumers aren’t even left with at least the unfinished mess that they once paid for.

This is not a road we want to encourage companies to go down, and I cringe every time I read someone suggesting it as a good idea. You can say that I’m arguing a slippery slope, but when was the last time EA, Ubisoft, or Activision-Blizzard saw a slippery slope that could be used to crank a few extra nickles out of their customers and they didn’t go charging down it head first like a drunken hillbilly at a water slide park? When you look at past behavior, and see the same patterns repeat themselves, it doesn’t take a genius to see where this sort of thinking leads: and it is not a good place for the consumers.

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Furthermore, even if Anthem was in a good spot in terms of content, balance, server stability, etc there’s still no guarantee that the game wouldn’t be facing these same population issues still. When there’s a glut of a certain type of game (MMO-lite loot shooters in this case) there’s going to be some that fail, regardless of whether or not they’re any good. Between Destiny, Fallout 76, and the Division; or the continued popularity of Battle Royale games; or perennial favorites like Battlefield and Call of Duty, a few of these gigantic “live service” games are bound to under-perform, if not flat out fail, because there’s too many of these games focusing on a limited pool of pretty much the exact same type of gamer. This is why we saw a bunch of WoW-clones fizzle 6 to 8 years ago; and why we saw a bunch of hero shooters bite the dust out of the gate 3 to 4 years ago. To quote Battlestar Galactica: all of this has happened before, and all of this will happen again. We can “what if” all day long about Anthem’s various problems, but there’s actually a good chance that this game still would have eaten dirt from day one because it was simply just a bridge too far.

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Kickstarter Donor
Alex Willis

I think you’re right, actually. They need to pull a hail mary, and fixes and updates are not going to cut it.

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Jeremy Barnes

the problem is “fixes” aren’t going to do anything. There’s some core, fundamental parts of the game that needs to be fixed. I think their only chance is the “Hey, no more updates, see you next year with Anthem 2.0”

It’s a shame because I found parts of the game to be pretty fun. The other parts just kill it though.

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IronSalamander8 .

It’s mind boggling really. The idea of mech combat with aerial capabilities should be a huge hit. Everyone who has played it seems to say the same thing; that the combat is solid but the rest is so-so at best. It looked like it was just copying other games that came before from day one but one would have thought they would have done more to make it a good entry into the market.

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Dankey Kang

Don’t worry, EA know what they’re doing.

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Danny Smith

Beat for beat this really is just Battleborn all over again.

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IronSalamander8 .

Poor Battleborn. It’s actually fun and has some humor but it never had a chance.

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Danny Smith

Blame ole’ Magic Man Randy Bo’Bandy trying to compete his FIRST PERSON MOBA with Overwatch for god knows what reason.

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IronSalamander8 .

Yeah. Randy is notorious for many reasons and this is one of them.

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kalech

I feel bad for all the people who worked hard on the game and had to go through all that crunch just to see it fail.

K38FishTacos
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K38FishTacos

It’s sad to me because I like the combat in this game a lot. After being able to move around and fly, it get very bored in Destiny 2 or The Div 2. So, I’m bummed out. But after playing an hour or two of Anthem and getting ZERO upgrades, just a bunch of garbage, it’s just crushing and I can’t log back in.

I ran into the same problems not being able to find full teams and having to solo strongholds.

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Arktouros

You aim for safe and you will end up hitting mediocrity.

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Bruno Brito

As it should be.