In 2019, Electronic Arts committed itself to 'live service' games, a term which generally refers to games structured around persistent online elements, such as Destiny 2. In a June interview with GameDaily.biz, CEO Andrew Wilson said that "games as service is going to be foundational to our industry," and during an October earnings call chief financial officer Blake Jorgensen said that EA was "doubling down on live services."
As a result, there was some concern from fans that EA was planning to turn Dragon Age 4 into a multiplayer-focused, Anthem-style live game. A new Bloomberg report says that's not going to happen, however, as EA has apparently decided to remove all multiplayer components from Dragon Age 4 and make it an exclusively singleplayer experience.
The decision was largely driven by two games according to the report, which cites multiple sources "familiar with the matter." One was singleplayer action game Star Was Jedi: Fallen Order, a success for EA, and the other was Anthem, the Destiny-like live game that was finally abandoned yesterday—a spectacular bomb, at least compared to EA's high expectations.
It's not actually clear how heavily Dragon Age 4 would've leaned into multiplayer prior to this decision. A 2019 report said the game was originally envisioned as a deep, reactive singleplayer RPG, but was rebooted to adopt the more monetizable "games as a service" model in 2017, leading some to describe it as "Anthem with dragons." Others said the main story would be a singleplayer experience, while the multiplayer would be more focused on post-release content—something akin to Mass Effect 3 multiplayer, which despite my trepidation at the time turned out to be really good.
Casey Hudson, then BioWare's general manager, said something similar on Twitter:
Reading lots of feedback regarding Dragon Age, and I think you’ll be relieved to see what the team is working on. Story & character focused.Too early to talk details, but when we talk about “live” it just means designing a game for continued storytelling after the main story.January 25, 2018
Regardless of what was previously planned, it's reassuring to hear that the next Dragon Age will be firmly focused on a singleplayer RPG experience. Multiplayer games are great, but sometimes you really just want to be the hero of your own story. It's still a long way off, however: The last we heard, Electronic Arts doesn't expect Dragon Age 4, or whatever it ultimately ends up called, to arrive until sometime after April 2022.