The Business of Games: EA and Battlefield Premium
I know that EA has been receiving a great deal of this flak recently, and a much of this is deserved. EA has become a synonym for greed at the expense of quality in their games. In part this comes from the fact they are a business, that makes a product that needs a certain return in order to sustain said business. EA however, is a megalith within the gaming industry and thus when they attempt to earn even more money from their products it tends to leave a sour taste. Battlefield Premium, the new status upgrade for Battlefield 3, is, in my opinion, another money grab by EA and is insulting to me as a player as a result. For those who do not know, Battlefield Premium is a new upgrade for your Battlefield 3 account, not unlike the VIP pass from Bad Company 2. One would have thought that Online Pass was insulting enough with the attempted punishment of the secondary market for games. Now EA wants you to shell out the almost the same amount for a new game for this upgrade to Premium status.
Battlefield Premium comes at the cost of about $50 or so. Which was just slightly less than what I bought the game for originally! There are several things that you get with this new status. The biggest lure in my opinion is the pre-purchase of several DLCs for Battlefield 3. There are more troubling things that come with Premium status that I will delve into after talking about the DLC.
I am a big fan of DLC, despite all the controversies that can come with them. Indeed, for a competitive play based game such as Battlefield, DLC offers the chance to extended the life of the game with fresh maps, weapons, gadgets, etc, etc. Perhaps I would go so far as to say that the timing of these DLC packs has to be fine tuned, so that a player is not waiting months for new content while losing interest to new games. Perhaps there is an argument that pre-purchase of the DLCs would help the retention of players….perhaps.
However, at such a steep cost, even if it were to save over buying each pack individually, it is hard to make that commitment unless you are a very dedicated. Indeed, at the presumed cost 15 dollars or so, it is possible to save 25 dollars easily. Personally it is hard to say that I will play this often enough through the End Game DLC coming sometime early next year to justify the costs. Not to mention that it is easier on my wallet and game budget (for other games) to buy DLC as they come out. But enough about the cost, and the hard to swallow request by EA to basically buy my game again.
It’s time to talk about some of the other perks that come with this enhanced state other than new DLC content. At the top of my list of horrible things that come with Premium Status is priority in the server queue. This just reminds me of the split in a gaming community that can come with differences based upon buying a status, and I only have to invoke Hellgate: London as an example. While premimum status should have some perks, giving priority to play the game is insulting to those who declined this ‘upgrade,’ if it becomes noticeable when trying to join desired servers. They are also giving away exclusive weapons with this upgrade. This may or may not be a problem, as it depends on how balanced these are when compared to other weapons. If they are another FAMAS than EA has violated a commandment of DLCs. THOU SHALL NOT SELL POWER! The last major thing that comes with this upgrade is the early access (as well as pre-purchased DLCs) to the upcoming content. This could be fine, but given the Battlefield 3 community there could be some frustration. Those with early access will learn the ins and outs pf the maps and when the rest of the community finally gets access they will face skilled and knowledgeable foes. This can be frustrating as you are learning the maps in the face of foes who know the ins and outs, and thus have the advantage.
I understand that games are a business, and that EA needs to make money to keep making games. To that end not only have I bought Battlefield 3, but also the Back to Karakand expansion already (and new to boot). I have supported the game and continued to do so after its launch. So the announcement of this Premium upgrade with its pre-purchase, exclusive weapons, and priority for joining servers strikes me as a request to buy the game twice, and thus a money grab. Not only that, unless I buy into Premium I become a second class member of the Battlefield community in some ways. As such I am less inclined to support the game when other games are coming out and deserve some attention as well. Games are a business, and as players we should reward games and companies who make good products while not becoming so blinded by greed to make questionable choices.
A ludendo ne destiteritis,
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