So, this blog post was originally going to be about the Oscars–and hopefully, that will still come (although not in any traditional form), but as I was brainstorming what I wanted to say about the Oscars this year that hasn’t already been remarked on, I happened across a small gaming news story that caught my eye. Anthem is set to be overhauled in the future.
Anthem–BioWare’s Black Eye
I’ve made no bones about the fact that I was wary from the very start about Anthem as a game. The reveal of it on Microsoft’s XBox One stage left a sour taste in my mouth from a once avowed “platform agnostic” game publisher (EA). After the game was released, I followed the following PR storm and resulting low review scores on YouTube and in the gaming press. I resolved that I would only pick up Anthem at the sub $10 mark as I feel EA simply no longer cares about its customers. Yes, the game had been in development for quite a while and thanks to a report by game’s journalist, Jason Schreier, we’ve been told that the development of the game was troubled. Yes, I understand that EA is a business and that they need to recupe their investment, but their business is games, not investors, and just like Hollywood, sometimes you have to sink more money into a floundering project unless you want to burn your customers’ goodwill for your future products.
Yes, I Bought Anthem–for a Song
So, yes, I bought Anthem. However, I didn’t lose money as I purchased it from Gamestop for $5. That’s right, Gamestop had bought so many copies and had such a surplus from people not buying the game in the quantities that GS had hoped, that they had to slash the price in order to clear inventory and recoup some investment on the game. I know how retail works, and GS likely purchased the game for approx. half of list price (in bulk quantities, hence the discount–or at least that’s the way it was for books back in the day when I worked at a bookstore). They likely didn’t eat the full $60 price tag, but even at half price, $30 is nothing to sneeze at. Usually stores will discount to around $10 or so to really clear inventory–so to have it at $5 likely means that GS bet big with Anthem (and lost).
Anthem Devs: Get Rid of the Tombs Mission
The reason why the report is timely is that I just stopped playing Anthem over the past weekend. There is a “roadblock” mission (known to the community as the Tombs’ Mission. Effectively, it is a roadblock to throttle player progress through the game since the game actually is much shorter than (apparently) it was designed to be and acts as an artificial barrier impeding progress. I knew the mission was there before I bought it, but I hit it this weekend and after looking at the requirements to complete it, I said, “No, I’m out.” I will NOT pick up the game again to play until that mission is gone (or heavily modified in some way so that it doesn’t throttle progression). I play games for FUN. If you can’t be bothered to design a game that is fun (for whatever the reason, I won’t play it; simple as that). If BioWare wants me to play their game, be invested in their world, and (what they really want) have a chance of selling me on content after I’ve purchased the game, then they have to come up with a compelling game that warrants my initial purchase (& any subsequent time and money that I choose to sink into the game).
Companies have to remember: the purchaser is NOT obligated to give you money for your product (or to continue funding that product) just on the publisher’s say so. Nor is the audience of the company its shareholders, but rather its customers.
No customers = no company. I don’t care how many shareholders you have or how much investment you have–if the customer doesn’t buy it, no one’s going to fund you. Right now, it seems like BioWare is headed in the right direction–time will tell, however, if I ever pick up Anthem again. (Psst, BioWare, if anyone is listening/reading, then a good first step would be to get rid of the Tombs’ Mission. Just sayin’.)
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