by Anthony Murphy – Mar, 2, 2017 - Editorial
Last weekend I pre-ordered Mass Effect Andromeda. This isn’t strange, I’m sure quite a few people have pre-ordered the game, but it is strange for me as I usually don’t pre-order games. To find out why I did this you need to go back a little bit further to when I was thinking about buying the game. I checked Origin, EA’s digital storefront, and the standard edition of the game was going for $89.99. For the PC version. Now I could have sworn that digital distribution was supposed to be make things cheaper, not more expensive. But hey, they can sell it for whatever they like right? So I exercised my consumer right and found a place to buy it at close to half price. Capitalism Ho!
Already this had put a little stink on the deal. $70 would have been a done deal. It’s a price point I’m used to and pretty much the maximum I’ll pay. People can argue about the cost of making games, the dollar value per hour of entertainment and mimimum wages in Australia being high, but the bottom line I can’t afford $90 for a video game so I won’t pay it.
So I decided to play through the first three games prior to the release of Andromeda just so they’ll be fresh in my mind. I start Mass Effect up and it’s great, just how I remember it. I edited some ini files and got it working at a nice resolution and it looks great on my modern PC. I finish the session just as I reach The Citadel and I honestly had a good time.
The following day I talk to Dave on the phone about this week’s podcast. I float the idea of reading out a bunch of Mass Effect 1, 2 and 3 reviews for our Letting Off Steam segment. Dave likes the idea so I go digging for some funny ones. Hmmm… That’s strange there’s a lot of negative reviews about Mass Effect 2 on Steam, it seems the DLC is not available on Steam only on Origin. That’s shitty, but no problem I got copies of Mass Effect 1 and 2 when I installed Origin and it sucked the details out of the Steam installed copies on my PC.
I go into Origin and that’s when things take a very rapid drop into frustrating bordering on unfair. The DLC requires me to buy “Bioware Points” and the larger more important DLC’s are still $16 or 800 “Bioware Points”. It’s been seven years and this hasn’t gotten any cheaper. Let that sink in for a moment. Lair of the Shadow Broker is a piece of content that features the continuing story of a major character in the Mass Effect series, if you romanced Liara in Mass Effect this continues that story. Not only do you have to buy the game to see what happens you then have to buy something extra if you’re invested in a particular portion of that story. Or you can just miss out. Now I’m starting to remember why I got frustrated with EA and Bioware in the first place. Seven years has dulled my feelings about them a little but now it comes rushing back.
I remember From The Ashes; a piece of DLC that was announced prior to the release of Mass Effect 3 that includes the last surviving character of a race of aliens, the Protheans. The downfall of this alien race is intricately linked to the main character of the series, but if you want to find out more about them – $16 please. On top of purchasing the game of course. Yeah, there’s that frustration we were talking about again.
So maybe there’s a complete edition I can buy to fill the holes in my collection. Sure enough there is, and it doesn’t come with the DLC for Mass Effect 2 or 3. All you had to do EA is release some kind of reasonably priced ultimate edition and tie the marketing to your new game. Everyone would have forgotten the mess you created with the DLC over the last few games. But no it looks like we’re doing this again.
As I said, over the years my attitude to EA and Origin had softened. They ran a fairly good platform and seemed to be more customer focused. Now, I’m frustrated, hostile and actively looking for ways that EA might be trying to get more money out of me. Every hour I spend playing Andromeda will be coloured by this experience. I’m not cancelling this pre-order because I want to cover this game for the site, but you can bet if there is a hint of bullshit I’ll be talking about it.