Anthem is beginning to become one of my most anticipated titles for next year. It’s a game that I’ve begun to cross my fingers in hopes that it could potentially be an answer to rivaling Destiny or The Division. A game that could take loot shooters to an all new level and even put EA onto an even playing ground with both Activision and Ubisoft.
At E3, it was one of the biggest games of the year and has even shown a small handful of moments that could be considered noteworthy or even a reason to become interested in the game. But what we do know is the act that BioWare is ditching the Star Wars and Mass Effect franchises altogether and moving for something a bit more refreshing. A brand new sci-fi IP that will see players donning an exosuit known as a Javelin and will serve as a players suit of armor.
Of course loot drops pertaining to weapons, armor, and itemization will play an important role within the game, but so will alien hunting, cooperative play, and all aspects that draw players into games of the genre. Even with the games presumably open world featuring team activities in a competitive nature, we can only assume Anthem will be a big hit, but only if EA manages to somehow do this right.
But this isn’t where EA is going to shine even with Anthem being quite a ways off, potential players such as myself have already begun to express our concerns about how the game will be monetized. Unlike EA’s recent track record, both Destiny and The Division didn’t launch with monetized models of any form, nor did they release instantly. Instead, they both saw a steady flow of paid DLC. Unfortunately, those days are over and fewer and fewer developers are even following this route.
While a select few have spoken up against microtransactions and loot boxes, major publishers haven’t shown any signs that they will wane from loot boxes or microtransactions in any form. But unlike others whom are seeking a more friendly path around microtransactions, EA has begun to ramp up their plans for microtransactions in recent months.
Unfortunately, my points of concern could quite literally resonate with much of the community and could even see EA damage – if not destroy any potential success BioWare’s upcoming title Anthem may have. But what are those concerns? What could thy potentially be that could see EA destroy Anthem all together and could even see them potentially shut down BioWare if the game itself fails?
One is the fact that EA has been a bit overzealous with their use of microtransactions. Based on their recent actions, we’ve already had to see Disney pull the reigns on Star Wars Battlefront II and how the microtransactions in the game work. The worst of it all? EA’s loot boxes aren’t just an optional piece of their latest releases. Instead, they have continually used them in order to influence their games and even given players a way to out-perform non-paying players.
Players that decided to merely use their time a bit wiser without cashing in and gaining a vantage point against other players. The backlash from this was bad enough that Disney had to toss EA under the bus in order to shut down their microntransactions and forcing all players to work at same if not similar paces.
Unfortunately for BioWare, they themselves aren’t even in the same position that they had been at one point in time. Now they’re stuck in a rough spot already having lost part of their lead development team and are still recovering from the failure of Mass Effect Andromeda. The game itself had originally been designed with paid DLC at its core and had even saw itself eventually shuttered all together as EA decided the game wasn’t profitable enough for them.
But that doesn’t go without saying that they can’t come back from their Mass Effect blunder. It doesn’t mean that they aren’t going to make money. Lets face it. Microtransactions are a big business. Big enough that gamers have admitted to spend tens of thousands of dollars on them. Companies make millions, if not billions off them over the span of a games lifetime. Just look at the cost to get cash in Grand Theft Auto Online.
It’s insanely expensive, so is Silver in Destiny 2. But what Anthem will be facing down when it releases is something tougher if it hits shelves next year. They will be facing down against the likes of games such as Destiny and The Division. Both titles that are offering both free and paid DLC. Both are also offering incentives to players who want optional cosmetics by placing them behind loot boxes, which are becoming increasingly problematic to fans of both games.
But what about Anthem? It’s not even out yet and I already have begun to clench my teeth at the thought of what EA might do to the game. I already imagine a Mass Effect meets Destiny style game, which will offer players incentives in purchasing their loot box themed items. Cosmetics, potential upgrades to weapons or even customizations for their Javelin pilot. Unfortunately, even the games Anthem will be competing with are increasingly relying on the success of loot boxes as a primary form of revenue from their games.
So-much-so that EA could potentially be the company to break the trend. They could very well be the company that has decided enough is enough and that they would like to restore the faith gamers had in them once again. However, they have a lot of work cut out for them and their recent releases aren’t shining examples of what a company should do. After all, Disney slammed on the breaks on Star Wars Battlefront II and its microtransactions. The controversy with EA’s loot boxes is bad enough that they even had to re-adjust earnings for Need for Speed: Payback within days of its release in order to make peace with fans of the series.Let alone have these been in trouble already, so has UFC 3 during its beta weekend. Fans were already in an uproar regarding its approach to loot boxes and how players must use them in order to unlock fighting move sets, player skills, and more. Sadly, this does mean that Anthem could very well be the next game to fall victim to EA’s desire for microtransaction based revenue.
If EA keeps true to their current track record. I think we should be worried about the future of Anthem. I think we should hope to see some form of legislation take place that limits the effects that loot boxes and or microtransactions should have on the games we play. After all, Belgium and Hawaii are already making moves to make this happen. Belgium having already deemed Loot Boxes to be a form of gambling and is looking to take action against them in order to limit their effects on games.
But I can’t help but wonder what Anthem will look like when it launches. Will we be forced to purchase specific in-game items with real money in order to obtain certain exotic class weapons? Will customizations be locked behind loot boxes or pay walls? Or will they opt entirely into going down the path of Destiny 2 and let us earn customizations even though they will also be available via paid options?
Lets be real here. We know BioWare and EA are going to disclose this ahead of the games launch. They’ll have to discuss this openly with their fans in order to try and win fans over, especially with Star Wars Battlefront II‘s microtransactions having been a pay-to-win feature now removed. If there were any bit of advice possible or tips? It’d be to follow down the path of Destiny 1. There were a select few microtransactions, ones there were minimal and didn’t affect the game overall.
But do you really think EA will do this? You’d almost be mistaken. They’re already talking about how to re-implement microtransactions back into Star Wars Battlefront II. They’ve already had to try and win players over with Need for Speed: Payback by allowing non-paying players to earn unlocks faster. These are all reasons I hope that EA has learned their lesson and hope that they will back down from killing both Anthem and BioWare.
While I am certainly looking forward to Anthem and even opted for an Xbox One X next year, if I can afford it, I’m worried about the game. I’m worried that EA will launch the game filled to the brim with loot boxes and paid options, but honestly, I just wish they’d learn from their mistakes with two of this years biggest launches and reevaluate their approach to monetization.
The views expressed in this article explicitly belong to the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of, nor should be attributed to, Blast Away the Game Review, but rather the author.
About the Writer:
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the boarders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter, Google+, and or you can find him on PSN with RaivynLyken.