Bioware has been known for some amazing games, from the popular Mass Effect series to Dragon Age and the announcement and very limited gameplay footage for Anthem have got many people quite excited. By now you most likely would have heard about the closure of Visceral Games as EA seems to make the move into the games-as-a-service model, which many people are understandably upset about.
Manveer Heir, an ex-Bioware developer sat down with Waypoint Radio, discussing EA and their money-grubbing approach to gaming. Apparently, the words inside EA, which sounds suspiciously like a catchphrase is to “have them come back again and again”. This leads once more to their change to the games-as-a-service based model.
Anthem, with the limited footage that we have of it, is already being compared to Destiny, in regards to a shared open-world surrounded by monsters and other deadly happenings and with an rng loot system in place for completing objectives and the like. For those who have played Destiny, you will already know about EverVerse, which is a storefront in-game where you can purchase cosmetic items for real-world money. Personally, I do not see the problem as they are for the most part cosmetic changes and do not offer any real advantages.
A common argument that I and many other people have used in the past is that microtransactions of a cosmetic nature aren’t to be worried about. People who have money and want the items should be able to spend it how they want. But that isn’t entirely true, is it? I have spent money on cosmetics on occasion in some of my favourite games, like Battleborn, Destiny, Paladins and even some Overwatch, and that was a conscious choice I made, but the fact remains that we are a very short step away from AAA titles turning into pay-to-win. This could seriously impact the game industry if it happens, but fingers crossed it doesn’t.
It is already well known that Star Wars Battlefront II has loot boxes, within which you can find Star Cards and other cosmetic items. For the purpose of this article, I could not care less about the cosmetics, it is the Star Cards that have worried and angered many people. You see, Star Cards are special augments that can change the way characters function in multiplayer. Star Cards are a great system and add a bit of variety to the game, you can make a Heavy Trooper that is different to a friend or an enemy but the fact that loot boxes are purchasable with real money and not entirely through normal progression is incredibly worrying.
Once again, I have no problem with gamers using their own hard-earned money to buy cosmetics, level boosters and all the other stuff that can be hidden in microtransaction loot boxes but I do think that microtransactions should not be put into games. It is essentially the equivalent of setting up a see-through container with Devils Food Chocolate Cake right in front of you, next to a coin slot that will dish out a small slice of cake. Temptation is a powerful thing.
The fact that loot boxes and other microtransactions are becoming the normal occurrence in the gaming sphere is a scary thing, especially when it is surrounding what could potentially be an amazing AAA title. I am, of course, once again talking about Anthem and the fact that the team at Bioware have been discussing loot boxes.
The creative director for Anthem, Brenon Holmes addressed this issue by stating that many members of the team have similar concerns and opinions on loot boxes and microtransactions even going so far as to offer his personal view on the matter;
“Personally I prefer games where the ratio is somewhat reasonable…ie: I can reasonably acquire currencies to purchase things during regular play“
A great gaming system that springs to mind is that of Warframe, where you can grind out every single thing in the game, even premium currency if you so wish. You can also choose to purchase Platinum to speed up the grind but the fact remains you can get every weapon, every Warframe and every cosmetic with enough grinding.
I am not of the opinion that single player games are going to die because of microtransactions, we will always have amazing single player stories to experience but the fact that EA has a track record with loot boxes and that they are not implemented well makes myself, and many other gamers rightfully worried. Hopefully, they will make the right call and Anthem will be the amazing game we hope it will be.