BioWare- one of the most successful studios in the video game industry with a track-record that speaks for itself. Almost 9 out of 10 games the Canadian studio developed were received well; these include the likes of the Mass Effect and Dragon Age trilogies, and from the previous generation, classics like Baldur’s Gate, Neverwinter Nights and Knights of the Old Republic.
And yet all it took was one game, i.e. Mass Effect Andromeda to unleash the fury of the fans and give BioWare a bad name. Lets dig deeper and try to figure out what exactly was the root cause of all this discontent among gamers.
Most people will answer that question with one word- EA!
And to some extend that is true. EA isn’t the most gamer-friendly publisher. With a history of micro-transactions, paid DLCs and bunch of other anti-consumer practices they have more than earned that tag. Micro-transactions however have been here since forever, both in mobile games and MMOs, though not so much in single-player titles. It’d be fair to say that they aren’t going anywhere either. The question remains though, why has the issue been highlight so much in recent times?
The answer to that takes us back to the disastrous launch of Star Wars Battlefront II, one of EA’s worst nightmares. EA broke many records that day, none of them good, the company’s Reddit post was down-voted to such an extend that it became the most disliked post in Reddit history. The company’s shares also took a hit due to all the drama and in part also due to Battlefront’s disappointing sales. EA was forced to remove all micro-transactions from it, but many of the company’s later games re-integrated them.
So why did people complain about micro-transactions only in Battlefront and not any other EA game? Because you had to grind endlessly for several dozens of hours just to unlock a single hero, and lets not try to calculate the time required to unlock all of them.
Granted micro-transactions suck, but lets face it, a good chunk of the players actually pay for them. That in itself is a good enough reason for publishers to include them. As for myself, if they don’t add to the progression of the game or don’t prevent me from accessing any particular content or equipment, I don’t mind. Cosmetics are not really my thing, and if they are present in a game, it shouldn’t really be an issue. I mean it’s a win-win for everyone- publishers can make games more profitable and gamers can enjoy what they paid for (expect for those already used to m-t).
Back to BioWare now. I’m pretty confident that Anthem will be a decent game, if not the best BioWare has ever produced. Considering that the bulk of the studio has been focused on it for a while now, I highly doubt that they’ll develop a sub-standard product. Andromeda was the work of rookie developers, but in case of Anthem all the big guns seem to be on-board. Casey Hudson, the creator and lead designer of the Mass Effect trilogy took over as the GM of BioWare Edmonton roughly six months ago, and given his confidence about the project, I expect favorable results.
Furthermore, it’s important to note that BioWare wasn’t acquired by EA recently. That happened more than a decade ago and the studio went on to produce master-pieces like Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age Origins. Yes, the later DA games aren’t the best examples, but regardless, Inquisition still went on to become the GoTY.
Taking all this into mind, I doubt EA will ruin one of BioWare’s biggest project ever by repeating a recent mistake and implement micro-transactions that alter the player experience. As always, opinions are welcome.
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PS: In case you are wondering where the cover image is from. It’s a fan-art of Morrigan from Dragon Age.