So let’s talk for a few minutes about Anthem. It’s the next big game from BioWare, you know, the Mass Effect and only good Star Wars games ever to come out of EA, I’m talking of course about the Knights Of The Old Republic (KOTOR for the uninitiated, long before EA had the exclusive rights to the Star Wars license…which they have since fucked up completely).
With the critical disaster of Mass Effect Andromeda (admittedly made by the BioWare B Team, but worth revisiting with mods) BioWare are in a tight spot with EA. In recent years, there have been a number of once amazing studios in the EA stable, which, having fallen out of favour with the publisher, seem to have been taken behind the shed and put out of their misery. For reference; Visceral Studios, the team that brought us the incredible Dead Space series as well as the amazing looking Project Ragtag, the Star Wars/Uncharted love child, was unceremoniously shuttered by EA because they were in danger of making something good with the license. To make matters worse, it didn’t have a penny milking strategy or even a glorified casino, EA doesn’t like that! It got so bad, during a presentation of Project Ragtag by Visceral to the EA board, one board member said directly “FIFA made a billion dollars last year, where is that in this game?”, which speaks plainly of what EA wants, all the time.
It’s safe to say, BioWare want to stay on the good side of EA. And so, it should be to no ones surprise to see there is a special edition, which adds basically fuck all and pre-order bonuses which are actually useful, odd that isn’t it, it’s almost like they want you buy the game before the reviews are out and/or the store page is set up.
I managed to get on to the VIP demo while it was available, impressions were good, it is a very good looking game, there is no disputing that. It plays alright, though enemies are spongy AF (could just be demo, could be balancing issues, we’ll see). However, the biggest pain is the fact that a lot of stuff WILL be shut behind a pay wall or a stupidly large grind.
It has come to light recently in a Reddit post that the store page was “leaked” (I’ll come back to that in a minute) and it really does look like the microtransactions are many, and VERY expensive. Now, granted, a BioWare representative was in the same Reddit thread and explained it was “an iteration” of the pricing structure, but the bar was set pretty fucking high. 40000 in game currency, which you can earn in game, for one Epic skin for 1 of the 4 Javelin variants. Now it has to be said, the demo did not factor in economics, as all cosmetics were set at a price of 25 coin, and we didn’t see a whole lot of income, though we did have a starting amount which could pretty much buy anything, so there’s that. However, the pricing structure has also been “leaked” for the Shards, which is the premium currency you buy using real money, and that same skin sells for 2000 Shards. As of the writing of this article, it costs £1 for 100 shards, making that 1 skin £20…WHAT?!?! What makes it even worse, is that these items are also time gated, so if you want that skin to look like the town guards, you better act fast!
Now, remember I put quotation marks around leaked? More than likely we will get a massive drop in those prices for the skin and a carbon copy “we listened to the community and made changes, we’re generous!” which we have heard again and again from AAA publishers trying to soften the blow. It would not surprise me if the leaks came from BioWare themselves in an attempt to con the gaming community.
I don’t mean to be salty AF, I’m just a little disappointed that a studio I once had a massive love for is being reduced to corporate shills because they are now the studio behind the shed, looking down the barrel of EAs gun, and given one more chance to make as much money as possible, or be put down. If BioWare wants to save itself AND make a good game AND make good on that Star Wars license EA has been wasting, just go and make KOTOR 3. KOTOR 3, Frostbite, very few microtransactions? I’d get behind that!