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BioWare's Anthem flew to 5 million overall copies

Before BioWare returned to Mass Effect and Dragon Age, its co-op shooter Anthem very nearly broke even for EA.

Justin Carter

December 21, 2023

2 Min Read
The four Javelin mechs in BioWare's 2019 game Anthem.
Image via BioWare/EA.

At a Glance

  • The live-service space has been a ruthless one, and Anthem was one of the earliest (and biggest) casualties.

According to a former senior manager at EA, BioWare's live-service game Anthem reached 5 million sales across its lifetime.

The LinkedIn for Alexandre Scriabine, EA's global director for social media until 2021, lists sales figures for several titles. In his mention of the co-op shooter, he further reveals the game sold 2 million copies in launch week.

For a brand new property, that much in a single week is impressive, especially since it had a semi-early release on Xbox via EA Play. But Anthem released mid-February 2019 and was hoped to sell 5-6 million copies by that March.

EA said it would keep faith in the game, but later turned down BioWare's plans for a soft reboot a la Destiny: The Taken King. The game received two free add-ons post-launch, but development has been ended since 2021.

Anthem's legacy in live-service games

Anthem is one of those games that often gets brought up as an example of triple-A developers' unsuccessful foray into the live-service space. Its existence hangs over recent events.

When Naughty Dog announced last week it'd canceled The Last of Us Online, it explained that it chose to remain a single-player developer. Live-service games are a full time commitment, and the studio wasn't willing to run that risk of losing its core identity.

The larger collapse of the live-service space this year means that Anthem got off semi-lucky. As Destiny 2 has recently shown us, it may have only been a matter of time before things broke bad.

Earlier this year, Turtle Rock revealed its co-op shooter Back 4 Blood effectively ended after the third expansion. The studio has since moved on to new projects, giving the game a rare opportunity to go out on its own terms.

Anthem turns five years old in February 2024. It may not be online longer than that, but at the very least, it's managed to coast along instead of having its feet actively collapse out from under it.

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About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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