The fortunes for BioWare Montreal and the Mass Effect series took a somewhat surprising turn Wednesday. A new report claims the negative reaction to Mass Effect: Andromeda has led to the franchise going on hiatus and the developer restructured less than 24 hours after a vote of confidence from publisher Electronic Arts.
Sources with Kotaku claim the Mass Effect series has been placed on hiatus while BioWare and Electronic Arts leadership figure out where to go next. The franchise is still one of the more popular intellectual properties in the Electronic Arts stable, so it does not appear to be dead at the moment.
Instead, Electronic Arts is shifting resources around to support its other upcoming titles. Some of the Mass Effect: Andromeda developers were moved to the EA Motive studio to work on Star Wars: Battlefront 2. The studio is now described as “significantly smaller,” and those who remain behind will continue to support Andromeda with patches, but they have also seen their roles change to support other upcoming titles.
The publisher will need to decide whether the game will stay with BioWare Montreal or move to one of the other studios. BioWare Edmonton is currently working on a Destiny-like “live service” game. Electronic Arts just announced the game was delayed to its fiscal year 2019, which ends in March of 2018. This is said to be the title the Montreal studio is now assisting with.
BioWare Montreal studio director Yanick Roy provided the following statement to Kotaku concerning the matter.
“Our teams at BioWare and across EA put in tremendous effort bringing Mass Effect Andromeda to players around the world. Even as BioWare continues to focus on the Mass Effect Andromeda community and live service, we are constantly looking at how we’re prepared for the next experiences we will create.
“The teams in EA Worldwide Studios are packed with talent, and more than ever, we are driving collaboration between studios on key projects.
“With our BioWare and Motive teams sharing studio space in Montreal, we have BioWare team members joining Motive projects that are underway. We’re also ramping up teams on other BioWare projects in development.
“There will be much more to come from BioWare in the years ahead.”
Meanwhile, it was only yesterday that Electronic Arts CEO Andrew Wilson gave Mass Effect and BioWare a vote of confidence. The game received mixed review scores and plenty of negative reactions from the gaming community over its writing, gameplay, character animations, and many bugs.
This led to a pointed question from Benchmark’s Mike Hickey during the Q&A session of Electronic Arts’ financial earning call about what is going on with BioWare. Wilson responded that BioWare delivered the kind of game the Mass Effect franchise is known for but admitted the review scores were lower than the publisher would have liked.
“It represents a fan base that’s very passionate; looking for very particular things. And many players found exactly what they’re looking for and some players did not,” Wilson answered (via Seeking Alpha).
“We believe Mass Effect Andromeda delivers a rich, deep experience which celebrates what makes the franchise great: wonderful, beautiful, deep rich worlds, amazing combat and engaging fast-paced, multiplayer,” the CEO continued. “New multiplayer content is continuing to be released and new content kind of arriving overall more regularly so. We’re very happy with kind of how BioWare is doing, how BioWare is treating Mass Effect. And our expectations for Mass Effect are still strong for the future and the franchise overall.”
What the future entails for the Mass Effect franchise is certainly up for question now. A follow-up is certainly not canceled, but its potential release has certainly been pushed further back with the BioWare Montreal studio shuffled around and now back to the supporting role it was originally created to perform. Meanwhile, the BioWare Edmonton studio is busy with a new IP. That potentially leaves BioWare Austin, which is best known for Star Wars: The Old Republic. It’s currently not working on any new games.
[Featured Image by BioWare/Electronic Arts]