Mass Effect on the Back Burner, BioWare Montreal Staff Reallocated

Articles Mass Effect

The latest news from sources close to BioWare Montreal are reporting that Mass Effect: Andromeda will soon be playing second fiddle for BioWare.

Mixed reviews, hilarious GIFs, and scathing social media commentary plagued the release of Mass Effect: Andromeda when it released in March this year. Highly anticipated, the receptions of BioWare’s latest installment of their space opera teetered between mild and hotly offended.

Facial animations aside, fans and critics alike complained about the main storyline, character development, and user interface as being either clunky or severely flawed. I myself have not encountered so many bugs as some of my colleagues, but am well aware of wall glitches, lip syncing issues, disappearing rooms… and those are just the technical issues. Balancing weapon and power damage, health and shields, and enemy AI in single player as well as multiplayer modes have been a focus of patches since release.

Just today, a slew of balancing changes were released. You can read about the patch notes here.

What news is even more concerning, however, is that despite the myriad flaws players continue to encounter in Mass Effect: Andromeda, BioWare appears to be sweeping the series under the rug. This seems to be the case for now, at least.

Leaving Andromeda in Our Stardust

Jason Schreier from Kotaku is reporting that BioWare Montreal, the developers behind Mass Effect: Andromeda, has been undergoing structural changes lately. According to “four sources” close to the studio, BioWare Montreal will return to its status of being primarily a ‘support’ studio. Before they were tasked with the development of Mass Effect: Andromeda, BioWare Montreal functioned as a support studio, aiding BioWare’s original studio in Edmonton with various projects.

There is something to be said about handing off one of the most important IPs belonging to BioWare to a ‘support studio,’ and some would say that this explains many of the issues accompanying their development, but perhaps we now have an explanation.

But Why?

In April, a portion of BioWare Montreal’s employees moved over to another studio, EA Motive to assist with Star Wars Battlefront II. The remaining staff at Montreal will be working on BioWare’s new, unannounced IP, only known by its code-name: Dylan. This new project seems to be taking the bulk of BioWare’s attention and resources as it is suspected to be a massive undertaking. This new, secret IP will be a “live service” game, much like Destiny or The Division, in which continual updates, maintenance, and community support will play pivotal roles in the game’s life post-launch.

Considering EA’s investment in Star Wars, as well as BioWare’s new IP, Dylan, it’s understandable that coldly received Mass Effect: Andromeda will only receive minimal support from a skeleton crew left at BioWare Montreal. Studio Director, Yanick Roy had the following to say about the situation:

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.

What Does the Future Hold?

We can probably expect to get future patches for Mass Effect: Andromeda’s multiplayer for some time, but that’s not the biggest concern for players. The single player campaign left a number of questions unanswered, plot holes unfilled, and contained plenty of references to future story installments. Without the assurance of DLC to continue our experience in the Andromeda Galaxy, Mass Effect fans are ultimately left dead in the water to cross their fingers and hope for some sort of miraculous conclusion to their journeys.

Only time will tell, but for now at least it seems we will continue to get some support from BioWare Montreal, even as their staff is divvied up among other projects.

Previously a touring and recording musician, Alex now uses his audio wizardry in the name of peace and video games. He's intrigued by the social sciences, astronomy, and everything strange the universe has to offer. He lives in Northeast Texas with two women, two cats, and seven generations of game consoles.

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