Mass Effect Andromeda was a high-profile flop in one of EA’s biggest franchises, and one that’s still having ripple effects on its approach to new games like Anthem. But could it all have been avoided under different circumstances? Following an offhand comment to Game Informer that cited a crowded release window, BioWare developer Mark Darrah took to Twitter to expand his thoughts with some surprising frankness.
“I’m going to regret this in half an hour but let’s talk ‘did MEA get a fair shake’.” He starts by acknowledging that Andromeda was a deeply flawed game, especially at launch. From there, though, he starts explaining some of the external factors that had an impact.
“The review environment was crowded,” he said. “Nier, Nioh, Horizon, and Zelda all launched in MEAs window. Each does something better than MEA (again, a flawed game). As a result, even systems that are pretty decent get scrutinized against superiorly implemented ones. Does launching in a different window turn 72% into 90? Certainly not. 72 into 77/78? Maybe.”
He goes on to say that word-of-mouth probably had a large impact, and this is just “the nature of the industry.” Some games benefit from their release window while others suffer from a crowded one. He suggests that inversely, Dragon Age Inquisition benefited by 2014 being a “tough year” for games.
“You launch the best game you can,” he concludes. “MEA has a lot of problems and got lapped by genuinely better games.”
As Darrah mentioned, Andromeda earned a 72 on GameSpot sister site Metacritic, which is officially “Mixed” but significantly lower than the series had become known for. GameSpot’s review scored it a 6/10, citing breathtaking new worlds but lamenting its dull characters and abundance of fetch quests. BioWare general manager Casey Hudson recently indicated the studio plans to get back to Mass Effect at some point, but right now it’s mostly focused on Anthem.