Anthem isn't in a good place. Players know it, and BioWare knows it. Yesterday, Reddit user harishcs asked BioWare "what's going on?" in a lengthy Reddit thread with 4,300 upvotes at the time of this writing. The thread criticizes several issues with Anthem and BioWare's response to them, concluding with a promise that "we still believe in this game." Harishcs' open letter comes at a time when Anthem players are actively protesting the game's broken loot system, so it's safe to say tensions are high. To help calm the waters, BioWare community manager Jesse Anderson replied with an open letter to the Anthem community.
"First, I want to thank you for writing this up," Anderson wrote. "I appreciate the honesty of how you (and others) feel about the current state of things. I also want to say that I can't talk about everything, simply because it is not my area of expertise, or because I don't have the information you're looking for. I stand by our statement of being transparent though and will continue to do so here and on other channels."
Anderson's post is a point-by-point response to harishcs and the general criticisms from the Anthem community. One of the most common complaints - at least on the Anthem subreddit - is that BioWare employees aren't as active as they used to be when it comes to responding to player feedback. Anderson offered an unsurprising explanation for this: those employees have work to do, and quite frankly, they don't want to get flamed in the replies.
"Why would a dev team member take time away from working on the next update to post when they know it's likely to be met with hostile replies, or they get flamed because [they] can't answer other questions that players are asking?" Anderson said. "I don't mind posting here when things aren't so nice, but that's because it's my job. For the devs it isn't their job, and I'd like to ask that people remember that when replying to them. When some people say 'be nice or the devs will stop posting' it's 100% true."
Anderson also addressed the controversy surrounding a recent tweet from the EA Help account, which encouraged Anthem players to report issues they encounter in quickplay missions. Some players - like the creator of this highly upvoted Reddit post titled "We are officially considered beta testers" - skewered the tweet for asking players to act as post-launch bug finders. Anderson said the tweet was simply a benign request for feedback.
"The reason we asked for this information is to help us track down the remaining issues players are experiencing in Quickplay in one location, and to get more specifics on what they were doing when they encountered the issue," he said. "Having all of that information helps the team track down the bugs faster, which means they're more likely to be fixed in the next update, which means they can move on to other parts of the patch sooner (other bugs, content, etc.)."
An avalanche of bugs
In case you missed it: Anthem's loot system was bugged and yielding more loot than normal, so BioWare fixed it, but players preferred it bugged because they couldn't get many Masterwork drops after the fix, and then they couldn't get any Masterwork Embers due to another bug.
Another recent controversy had to do with perceived gaps in Anthem's patch notes. Update 1.0.3, for example, included a number of accidental changes, and some players felt that additional changes and perceived nerfs went unreported in the patch notes. Anderson maintained that if anything is missing from patch notes, it's not because it was omitted intentionally.
"Nothing was hidden on purpose in the patch notes … I'll work with the team to get this process better, but we still may miss something from time to time, especially if it is something that gets added to an update late in the process," he wrote. "We will never hide a nerf or change in the patch notes on purpose, even if it's something we know the community won't like. And if we do put in something that the community doesn't like we'll do our best to explain why that particular change was made."
The whole post is worth reading, but I think this bit best sums up the mutual frustration surrounding Anthem. "Anthem is here to stay," Anderson said. "Do we have a lot of work to do to fix parts of the game? Yes, and the team is committed to making improvements and releasing new content … The team is listening to all of your feedback for Anthem on how you'd like to see the game improve, or how you'd like to see us engage with the community differently. I know that players want to see updates faster, but these things can take time to make sure they are done right. We're very appreciative of this community and look forward to the days, weeks, months and years ahead."
Relatedly, here are 11 key Anthem problems that really need to be fixed.