It appears that EA and Bioware are ready to start fully embracing “next-gen” consoles. While many studios are simultaneously producing last-gen and current-gen versions of their games, one former Dragon Age 4 developer indirectly indicated that the game would only hit PS5, XBSX|S, and PC.
Rumor has it that Bioware’s next installment in the Dragon Age franchise will be a “next-gen” exclusive, meaning that Xbox One and PlayStation 4 users will miss out on the fun. The news comes via a Twitter user who happened to notice that Dragon Age 4’s former Lead Player Designer Daniel Nordlander listed the game as coming to “PS5/Xbox Series X+S/PC” on his LinkedIn profile.
Nordlander was with Bioware from 2017 to 2020 and previously worked on Anthem, so he should know what platforms will see a Dragon Age 4 release. However, the game is still in early production, thanks to delays and key staff resignations. Bioware and EA have not announced anything about DA4 other than a couple of teaser trailers that don’t even list a vague release window. So, for now, it’s best to consider next-gen exclusivity as speculatory.
Dragon Age 4 development first started in 2015 under the code name “Joplin.” However, when problems arose with Mass Effect: Andromeda, Bioware shifted staff from DA4 to help out. The same thing happened later when the studio was having issues with Anthem. EA eventually scrapped the project in early 2018, prompting several Dragon Age veteran developers to resign from Bioware. The project was restarted and code-named “Morrison.” The assumed commitment to next-gen hardware is somewhat refreshing.
Last year’s release of next-gen consoles brought something with it we had really not seen before—backporting. While it’s relatively common for a studio to remaster or port its older games to the latest hardware, they rarely dumb down newer titles to release on older hardware. However, this appears to be the general trend for many games released this year, next year, and beyond.
Although no studio has definitively stated its reasoning for backporting, external conditions, including the ongoing console shortage and continued pandemic concerns, likely play a factor. Unfortunately, when developers split their resources to produce simultaneously on two platforms (or more), the design of one or both versions can suffer.
Square Enix’s Marvel’s Avengers and CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077 are two examples that come to mind. Both last- and next-gen versions of Marvel’s Avengers just suffered from poor design in general, and both critics and users largely panned the title. The PS4 and Xbox One versions of Cyberpunk 2077 were unplayable for most on launch. While PC players didn’t have nearly as many bugs and performance issues, Sony pulled the PS4 game from its storefront for a time.
Understandably, developers want to reach as many players as possible, but when it comes at the cost of numerous delays and sub-par game quality, is it really worth it? I don’t recall anyone complaining that Bethesda did not release a PlayStation 2 version of Skyrim. Players will still buy the game when they eventually upgrade their systems.