As some of you may have heard, a new Star Wars game has been released. Developed by DICE and published by EA, “Battlefront” is a next generation first person shooter plopped right in the middle of the good Star Wars movies. The first ones. Numbers 4-6.
Yep; that means X-Wings, Tie Fighters, AT-ATs, Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, and no mention of Anakin or Jar Jar.
Now the bad news; the “full” game will cost $120, and at that price it won’t even come with a full sized bust of Lando Calrissian or a Stormtrooper helmet.
Yes, there is the basic Battlefront for $60, but let’s recap exactly what this is all about to explain how we get to $120.
Looking at the game itself, I was able to take part in the recent open beta and it provided the perfect opportunity for me to test just how well DICE did in splicing the Star Wars DNA into their Frostbite 3 engine built originally for Battlefield 4 and find answers to the important questions: Can I use a lightsaber? Does my X-Wing come with a R2-D2 style droid? On Hoth, can I slip into the warm comforts of a Tauntaun?
(Answers: Yes, No, and No.)
Initial impressions were good with little to complain about. Most importantly, I had fun. I was on board the buying train.
So, as one does when they consider buying a thing, I took a look at the cost of the game and suddenly, things got a little less fun.
$60 - a normal new game price. You get (today’s) Battlefront. 12 maps, some limited form of single player, and 9 multiplayer game types.
Then there’s the Deluxe Edition for $70. Let’s see what’s so deluxe - it provides instant access to ion grenades, torpedoes, and Han Solo’s blaster so you don’t have to slog through unlocking them. There’s also two exclusive emotes.
So you’re paying $10 to fast forward your capabilities and for two exclusive emotes.
Emotes……….? The game equivalent of emojis?
Then there’s the Ultimate Edition. Comes with Deluxe stuff and a Season Pass granting access to 4 upcoming downloadable content (DLC).
I’m no math magician, but by my calculations via my calculator, that’s 100% increase in costs. That kind of markup that’s usually reserved for Taylor Swift tickets on Craigslist or Monster Cables. Buy the base $60 game, you are rewarded with today’s Battlefront, accompanied with the constant threat of obsolescence. Only the addition of a $60 Season Pass is the savior that promises everlasting gaming relevance (limited to 4 DLC).
But why? How has EA come to the conclusion that this game - the game devoid of a single player campaign worth mentioning and a map count only rivaled by the cans in a case of Mountain Dew for tonight’s sesh - is somehow worth twice the amount of almost any other game on the market? At least Fallout 4 came with a stupid cast for me to put my phone in.
And therein lies the heart of the issue - they’ve release a game that they deem complete and charge full price like any other complete game, but promise via DLC to complete the game even more with a purchase equating to the game again. With the game built on an existing engine and a scant 12 maps, there is enough to take issue with on the point that they’ve released a full game. Add that to the fact that the DLC may very well more than double the content of the game (or at least should for the cost), you have even more to argue against the first point, and a strong argument that the DLC really should have been a part of the original game and that this becomes a blatant money grab.
EA is a publisher, and they want profits. It’s business; nobody begrudges them that. So they sell a Star Wars game. They want to maximize profits, so they come up with ways to increase spend per person - but they have perverted the method normally associated with getting players to buy more. Instead of increasing content to incentivize buyers, they’ve stripped things away and promise to sell pieces of it back. Like watching White Snake play a local casino, this feels like their true strategy was to cash in on nostalgia.