New BioWare IP Delayed, Mass Effect Potentially Put on Backburner

The time of year has rolled around to when major publishers are declaring their financial results for the final part of the previous fiscal year. EA has just released their Q4 results and they had a great financial year. Battlefield 1 totalled more than 19 million players and the community continues to grow. FIFA 17 has brought in over 21 million players, more than 12 million of whom tried out the game’s new The Journey story mode. The FIFA Ultimate Team community also grew by 13% to the end of the year. Now EA is looking forward to the next 12 months, but not everything has a rosy outlook.

While Mass Effect: Andromeda was mentioned briefly in the report as one of the titles helping to contribute towards EA’s projected 10% increase in first quarter sales compared to the previous year, it was conspicuously missing from everywhere else. Kotaku has reported that the Mass Effect franchise has been put on hold for now and that Andromeda’s developer, BioWare Montreal, has been turned into a support studio.

This means that any potential sequel for the title is not being worked on right now as the studio is focused on patches and multiplayer support for Andromeda, as well as supporting other BioWare titles. These titles include BioWare’s new IP, but this has been delayed out of its previous FY18 release window. The title is now projected to appear in FY19 although the reasons for the delay were not confirmed. When asked for a statement, BioWare Montreal studio director Yanick Roy said:

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, EA’s CEO Andrew Wilson had this to say:

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. New multiplayer content is continuing to be released and new content arriving overall more regularly. We’re very happy with 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.

In terms of the new IP, the choice to move the new IP and what happened with Mass Effect are completely unrelated. The realities is we have a creative process. As a company, creativity and pioneering is really important for us. Now, innovation in games is important more now than ever. And as a leader in the industry, we see it as our responsibility to innovate. And as part of our creative process – and I get to be involved in that creative process – we recognize that there was so much more opportunity in a connected network social world to do some things in the new BioWare game that had never done before and we don’t think anyone is going to do anytime soon. But by virtue of our network, our cross-platform presence and our scale, we think we can do that. And we chose to give the team some more time to deliver against that innovation because we believe players are looking for the kinds of things that we plan to put into that game.

And so we’re very happy with BioWare. BioWare has continued to support Mass Effect, and the new team is doing some amazing things, and you’ll hear more about that in the months to come.

On a more positive note, the staff that were not needed for the support roles have been moved to EA Motive where they will continue to work on the much anticipated Star Wars Battlefront II, due to be released on November 17th. Also joining this game in FY18 is the new Need for Speed title of which we heard about just yesterday.

EA’s sports titles are hoped to continue to bring in the players, too. Madden NFL 18 will be using the Frostbite engine to implement new modes that will “bring the sport to life in unprecedented ways”. FIFA 18 will expand upon Ultimate Team and The Journey, although no details were forthcoming right now. As mentioned in previous reports, NHL 18 and NBA LIVE 18 will also be making appearances, as will a new UFC title that is tentatively called UFC 3 for now. Take a look at the image below to see when each of these titles is predicted to be released.

Finally for FY18, Battlefield 1 will continue to receive updates, new maps and the remaining three expansion packs. There will also be a new competition for the game, akin to the championships that currently take place in FIFA and Madden NFL. Titanfall 2 was missing from the report but don’t panic; all of this game’s future content will be made available to players for free, therefore having little financial impact for the company.

Stretching into FY19, which doesn’t begin until April 2018, Visceral’s Star Wars title will make its debut. Respawn’s Star Wars title is looking at a similar release window. Further details on these titles were not forthcoming but we’ll be sure to let you know when we hear anything else, especially on June 10th when EA Play will take place.