Electronic Arts - It's everything but us

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#1 Posted by uninspiredcup (33734 posts) -

https://www.pcgamer.com/electronic-arts-says-the-old-way-of-releasing-games-doesnt-work-anymore/

Electronic Arts says the old way of releasing games doesn't work anymore

The Anthem experience has apparently led EA to reconsider how it launches large-scale online games.

Electronic Arts acknowledged during its Q4 2019 financial results conference call that Anthem, which it expected to be one of its biggest releases of the year, did not live up to expectations. Despite all its problems, EA reaffirmed support for both the game and developer BioWare, but it also said that the experience has led it to realize that it needs to start handling large, live-service game releases differently than it has in the past.

"The reality is, it's not just an EA challenge, it's an industry-wide challenge," CEO Andrew Wilson said during the call, referencing the difficulties of creating and operating large-scale open-world games like Anthem. "You're moving from what was initially a BioWare game which would be somewhere between 40 and 80 hours of offline play to 40 to 80 hours of offline play plus 100 or 200, 300 hours of elder game that happens with millions of other players at scale, online."

That obviously has an impact on development and QA processes, but EA is also examining how it presents new games to potential audiences, with an eye toward managing expectations. Wilson said that in Asia, major online games generally go through a soft launch and multiple community tests before everything goes live, which enables EA to get a better idea of how they'll behave at scale. In the West, however, major publishers have stuck with older conventions: A "drip-feed approach" to marketing to "build up the appetite and excitement for the game," that leads straight into release.

"As games have gotten bigger that system isn't working as as well as it has done in years gone by. So what you should expect from us is that it's not just about changing the development processes in the game, it's not just about changing the QA process in the game—although both of those things are being changed dramatically inside our organization right now—but it also comes down to changing how we launch games," Wilson said.

"You should expect that we'll start to test things like soft launches—the same things that you see in the mobile space right now. And it also comes down to changing how we communicate with players. Our entire marketing organization now is moving out of presentation mode and into conversation mode, and changing how we interact with players over time."

Wilson believes that change in approach should help ensure that games run better and more reliably when they go fully live, and will also help players "understand exactly what it is that they're going to be playing, and how they're going to be playing both on the day of launch and over time."

"We think that we're in a really good position for this—I think this gets really hard if you don't have scale to do this, and so we feel very good about it ," Wilson said. "And over time we hope that we can lead from the front and help other developers and publishers change the way they do things as well."

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#2 Posted by jeezers (3035 posts) -

@uninspiredcup: EA finnaly realized they hyped anthem to all hell, throwing millions into advertising, for it too crumble as a buggy mess, meanwhile apex legends had a huge surge of players after a surprise launch with 0 hype.

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#3 Posted by lundy86_4 (53409 posts) -

Too little too late. I played Anthem through Premier, and the content was severely lacking, even in the main story. Was it a bad game? Not really, but it was certainly bare-bones. As it stands, I cancelled my Premier subscription and will wait until I see how the media -- and more importantly -- the gamers react.

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#4 Posted by Son-Goku7523 (955 posts) -

They need to change something that's for sure. I don't know if the problem with their games lies solely with the way they launch them though.

Anthem's problems go beyond just a shitty launch. The game was a good game on paper and in execution as far as gameplay went but everything else was a disaster. I don't think a company like Bioware that has single player RPGs as their bread and butter should be making a looter shooter in the first place. Couple that with the complete incompetence in upper management at Bioware (not knowing what Anthem was going to be till E3 2017) reported by Kotaku, and unfamiliarity with the Frostbite engine and you have a recipe for disaster.

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#5 Posted by DaVillain- (36957 posts) -

@lundy86_4 said:

Too little too late. I played Anthem through Premier, and the content was severely lacking, even in the main story. Was it a bad game? Not really, but it was certainly bare-bones. As it stands, I cancelled my Premier subscription and will wait until I see how the media -- and more importantly -- the gamers react.

Felt the same way. Anthem's greatest straights is the core gameplay but the campaign was disappointing, including the endgame itself. Lack of content really hurt the game's reputation. I stop playing when my Premier subscription expired and whenever Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order releases, I'll renew Premier to play Jedi Fallen Order and will return to anthem and see what Bioware added anything good if ever.

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#6 Posted by Alucard_Prime (10107 posts) -

The kind of game they wanted to do is a difficult game to do right, and they are learning the hard way. They tackled a genre that they had limited experience with. They should have paid attention to similar games and followed their progress. The Division 2 is an excellent example of how Anthem could have turned out good, but they could have looked at older examples even like Diablo 3.

I've seen many say that the Division 2 is what the Division 1 should have been at launch, but I somewhat disagree with that because TD2 improves on so many aspects and takes a lot of player feedback into account since TD1, yes it would have been great to get this in 2016 but this genre requires so much fine tuning with all the different builds and loot balance.... and the endgame, something that very few loot shooters get right, especially on day 1.... I wonder how Borderlands 3 will handle that.

When you "finish" the Division 2, there is another side of the game that opens up, you get access to a new skill tree, it is a title that does endgame quite well and it is not an afterthought. Diablo 3 managed to extend its lifecycle with lots of Endgame stuff. Anthem is severely lacking in that area, I remember getting into glitched matches constantly using Quick play, let alone getting to a deep endgame. Division 2 barely had any glitches at launch and the one glitch that really annoyed me got quickly resolved. It was packed with content at launch, improved on TD1 greatly in many areas and they clearly listened to fan feedback on many things.

It's unfortunate because I liked my brief time with Anthem and liked the core gameplay, but for it to get better they need to put in the work, and very important to open a dialogue with the player base and address the main complaints. It will require a lot of work to get to a level close to TD2, it's possible but at this time I would not hold my breath, only time will tell.

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#7 Posted by FireEmblem_Man (19744 posts) -

I'm hoping for Jedi: Fallen Order to succeed

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#8 Posted by sakaiXx (5724 posts) -

EA got a point. Anthem took a lot of resource, talent acquisition yet still bombed critically and probably commercially.

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#9 Posted by SuperfluousReal (361 posts) -

@jeezers said:

@uninspiredcup: EA finnaly realized they hyped anthem to all hell, throwing millions into advertising, for it too crumble as a buggy mess, meanwhile apex legends had a huge surge of players after a surprise launch with 0 hype.

Intelligent capitalization of idiocy.

Apex wrecked the low IQ.

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#10 Posted by jeezers (3035 posts) -

@superfluousreal: damn straight they did lol respawn those tricky devils

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#11 Posted by watercrack445 (1671 posts) -

Liquidating

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#12 Posted by That_Old_Guy (1236 posts) -

I’ve heard this “lesson learned” thing before.

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#13 Posted by Litchie (24047 posts) -
@EA said:
"You should expect that we'll start to test things like soft launches"

What good would a softlaunch do? Anthem was in beta. Still turned out shit.

@EA said:

"And it also comes down to changing how we communicate with players."

Talking to actual gamers sounds good though. That's what they should've done with Anthem and its' beta.

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#14 Posted by warmblur (2547 posts) -

Challenge everything.

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#15 Posted by R4gn4r0k (31223 posts) -

"The Anthem experience"

What's that? Endless hate?

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#16 Posted by General_Solo76 (544 posts) -

People just don’t want live service games period!

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#17 Edited by Sancho_Panzer (814 posts) -

@general_solo76 said:

People just don’t want live service games period!

Maybe I'm still struggling with the nomenclature, but I personally don't inherently dislike the idea of live service games - just depends on how they're implemented. Stuff like Fallout '76, or Sea of Thieves or MMO type games would be fine by me, provided they're well done and aren't full of MTX. It's the MTX in full price games I really can't stand, not whether they're continually updated and tweaked or multiplayer focused. MTX are sadly everywhere these days. Even in Naughty Dog games, FFS.

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#18 Posted by sonny2dap (1531 posts) -

Anthem was just so utterly unforgivably bare bones, a single player campaign that was okay, but beyond that what was there? 3 missions plus some random bounties? the weapons were un-inspiring you had an RNG on RNG loot system, the loot system wasn't balanced for time in loot out, the loot available was severely limited in it's variety meaning no armour pieces at all, just not enough to do or incentive to keep playing, I didn't mind it at first and i still think the iron man type flight mechanics are some of the best in a game ever, it's just everything else is so sub par.

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#20 Posted by LuxuryHeart (1038 posts) -

They should have taken the exclusive deal for Wpic's storefront. Seriously, the Epic Game Store is amazing. Way better than Steam.

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#21 Edited by mrbojangles25 (44045 posts) -

Holy ****ing shit, EA, Anthem didn't work because it's a terrible game.

Is it really that hard to make a good game and make money from it?!?!?!

Ummm, let's see here...for starters, don't make a creator of excellent single-player role-playing games develop an online-focused multiplayer shooter. Let them do their thing. Yeah, you might think they could make you more money, but, well....here we are.

Swear to god, any one of us on these forums could do a better job running EA than their current leadership.

EA: 2 + 2 + 5

Everyone: no, it doesn't.

EA: It doesn't?

Everyone: no, 2 + 2 = 4

EA: Oh, that doesn't work for us...

WTF

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#22 Posted by Random_Matt (4254 posts) -

EA needs to close down personally, scum company full of scum individuals.

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#23 Posted by Calvincfb (0 posts) -

Stop making crappy mtx filled games and everything will turn out fine.

Give is back dragon age and mass effect without being service games.

You had this coming, EA, suck it up.

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#24 Edited by Ten_Pints (3831 posts) -

Sounds to me EA are pushing to see how far they can go before people stop buying their shit.

Every Bioware game since DA: Origins has been shit, they run mass effect into the ground by releasing unfinished badly written rushed games.

People may have complained, but they still came back for more. I still doubt they learned their lesson, all they care about is money and something flashy to sell to investors, **** them.

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#25 Posted by lamprey263 (36146 posts) -

It's easy to just blame EA without considering how much blame the development studios share in Anthem's failures. At most I'd agree that mandating use of Frostbite played a part. But bits about miscommunication between teams and overall fracturing and compartmentalizing development staff seems in large part a failure on the part of the developers.

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#26 Posted by pdogg93 (1614 posts) -

**** this games as a service with promises of adding content bullshit. I hate it and will never support it.

Make a complete experience and if it’s good, I’ll pay for DLC in the future

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#27 Posted by PC_Rocks (2504 posts) -

Bioware is soon to take a trip with papa EA.

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#28 Posted by Son-Goku7523 (955 posts) -

@pdogg93 said:

**** this games as a service with promises of adding content bullshit. I hate it and will never support it.

Make a complete experience and if it’s good, I’ll pay for DLC in the future

This.

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#29 Posted by Bread_or_Decide (29141 posts) -

Good luck figuring that all out.

I'll be here playing Yoshi's Crafted World with it's ridiculous post game collectathon.

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#30 Posted by Sushiglutton (7264 posts) -

So basically they will do the exact same thing, but instead of calling it "a release" they will call it "a soft launch". And then players are supposed to do the beta-testing/QA for them. Ok good luck with that EA! Here's a thought: Perhaps players are getting a bit fed up with these grindy, bloated games.

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#31 Edited by xantufrog (11523 posts) -

@lamprey263: I agree. EA sucks, but Bioware has shown pretty clearly their fragmented development and inconsistent talent at this point.

They haven't blown me away ever, frankly, but they were "very good" and haven't been that in a long time

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#32 Posted by with_teeth26 (9559 posts) -

and EA once again fail to understand why one of their games didn't perform as expected

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#33 Posted by NoodleFighter (10352 posts) -

@Alucard_Prime: @pdogg93: And this is why Warframe continues to succeed. Because of Warframes F2P method and development style it easily continues to build up its playerbase and manage to bring its veterans back when they felt they were done with the game. Warframe from 2012 is nearly a completely different game from the Warframe we have now. Warframe can easily evolve because of its F2P style. When games like Destiny and The Division want to improve upon their game they do it in the form of sequels while Warframe does it in the form of updates. Splitting your game up into standalone sequels splits up the playerbase which is bad for an online game especially as time goes on and the playerbase starts to dwindle from simply being old. People may avoid getting previous installments because of a lack of playerbase. People may also avoid getting the newer installments because their first impressions on previous games left a sour taste in their mouth or at the very least they're more weary of microtransactions and DLC and spend as little as possible on it and the base game.

With Warframe's F2P method all it costs is someones time and bandwidth to see if they like the improvements to the game. I've seen tons of people that say they didn't like Warframe at first but after trying out the new updates they became dedicated players.

Despite being F2P Warframe isn't Pay-To-Win or putting everything behind a paywall. Everything with the exception of some cosmetics and bundles can be obtained for free and it isn't a ridiculous grind to get em either. I've obtained 6 Warframes without spending a single dime and I'm already a part or two away from being building some Prime Warframes. I've only bought two Warframes and I somewhat regret it because I had no idea they were easy to obtain. Not allowing trading or severely limiting it is another big blow to Destiny, Anthem and The Division. Sometimes you just aren't lucky in the loot you get but if it holds any value you can trade it in exchange for what you want. I've made trades with friends for platinum, prime parts, relics and mods. I got nearly all the parts for some of the prime weapons and Warframes through trading. With my experiences in the community people are very friendly and will even give stuff for free or help you try to obtain it. Many times me and other people bring their newbie/lower level friends to higher leveled missions to help them get more resources, better mods, blueprints and relics. Cooperating in general greatly increases your chances of getting good loot.

All of Warframe's content to keep you playing is free while Destiny and others hide it behind a paywall and people get pissed at how short the content is for the price ($20-$40). While Warframe isn't perfect its far from being bad and definitely the better option of loot shooters in my opinion. The game is going through a bit of a content drought since they started making open world levels and cinematic quest but it's worth the wait especially since they're free and the rate they're going at is at least 1 major update a year.

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#34 Posted by uninspiredcup (33734 posts) -

@xantufrog said:

@lamprey263: I agree. EA sucks, but Bioware has shown pretty clearly their fragmented development and inconsistent talent at this point.

EA's been whoring them for years now as a premiere developer, but that's pretty much eroded.

Now sure how many people really view them as such now.

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#35 Posted by speedytimsi (966 posts) -

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#36 Posted by Robbie23 (368 posts) -

They should focus on making more games like the first Dragon Age. Man what the hell happened?

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#37 Posted by VagrantSnow (347 posts) -

Battlefield 5 is the first EA game I've bought in years and it is honestly one of the most frustrating user/developer experience I've encountered in a long time. They are so horribly out of touch, conducting themselves like it was still the early 00s with little communication and slow, large updates. They definitely need to modernise the way they provide their gaming experience to the end user.

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#38 Edited by Alucard_Prime (10107 posts) -

@NoodleFighter: You make some good points and surely there are pros and cons to both pricing methods. I played Warframe a few years back and enjoyed it, but at the time it just did not pull me in for long, I remember it ran choppy on my base XOne when there was lots of stuff onscreen and some of the environments did not seem varied, but like you said if I try it now my opinion may be different, and I have the X now which is more powerful.

Division 2 is a nice upgrade on all fronts compared to the 1st game and the reason why people are pleased with it overall is that the day 1 content was good. They released a big update a few weeks after release and plan on further supporting it for the upcoming year. They have a good dialogue with the player base and regularly make videos about updates, and explain why certain things are delayed etc.

But unlike Anthem, the content was good enough at launch, and they put in the work as the environments in TD2 are quite varied compared to the 1st game and there are many improvements that fans of the 1st game will enjoy. There is a "games a service" component of these games that is necessary and inherent to the genre because a lot of stuff requires testing with live players and feedback over time. You can't just say Warframe should have released today instead of in 2012, because since that time all the feedback helped it grow. But, for a full priced game like Anthem and TD2, they need to come out with compelling content at launch, people need to be satisfied on day 1.

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#39 Edited by getyeryayasout (12343 posts) -

I have faith in you, EA. I know that you can figure out a better way to fleece gamers. I just know it!

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#40 Posted by DeadMan1290 (15562 posts) -

I feel like people act surprised about EA's shitty practices for nothing. As if we didn't know what their MO is already or how shitty their management is. It's no surprise today. They won't change their practices any time soon and it sucks because the consumers are the ones to suffer and the studios pouring hours of their lives into these projects only to see them crash and burn horribly because of EA.

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#41 Posted by DrLostRib (5006 posts) -

If you have to release a chart so consumers can figure out when they can play your fucking game, then something has gone wrong

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#42 Edited by Willy105 (24836 posts) -
@vagrantsnow said:

Battlefield 5 is the first EA game I've bought in years and it is honestly one of the most frustrating user/developer experience I've encountered in a long time. They are so horribly out of touch, conducting themselves like it was still the early 00s with little communication and slow, large updates. They definitely need to modernise the way they provide their gaming experience to the end user.

Yeah, EA is notoriously slow at everything. Battle Royale for Battlefield should have come out an entire year ago, on Battlefield 1. They had months to make a BR gamemode after PUBG became a massive hit. But EA is so bureaucratically slow that they couldn't even get it out on launch of the following game.

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#43 Posted by FireEmblem_Man (19744 posts) -
@Willy105 said:
@vagrantsnow said:

Battlefield 5 is the first EA game I've bought in years and it is honestly one of the most frustrating user/developer experience I've encountered in a long time. They are so horribly out of touch, conducting themselves like it was still the early 00s with little communication and slow, large updates. They definitely need to modernise the way they provide their gaming experience to the end user.

Yeah, EA is notoriously slow at everything. Battle Royale for Battlefield should have come out an entire year ago, on Battlefield 1. They had months to make a BR gamemode after PUBG became a massive hit. But EA is so bureaucratically slow that they couldn't even get it out on launch of the following game.

Well yeah, where are those EA games for the Switch?

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#44 Posted by NoodleFighter (10352 posts) -

@Alucard_Prime: A lot of stuff has changed in Warframe for starters a few months back they changed the melee system to where you no longer have to fully switch to a melee weapon in order to take advantage of its combos you can now instantly transition from firearm to melee and back all by pressing the melee button or fire/scope button. You can also resume combos while switching in between. You can now aim your ground slams to where you want instead of just going straight down.

If you haven't done at least The Second Dream Quest then you have more than enough content to keep you busy for a while.

Warframe being F2P is one the things that make it easy to drop in and drop out of. I was one of the first Alpha testers and once I did all the content in the Alpha and early beta and my account data got wiped I left and only played casually once in a while till last year when I decided to seriously relearn the entire system now that it was more grounded and make some progress.

I think playing on consoles is one of the major things that turned some people away from Warframe. The PC has the largest playerbase by far and for good reasons. For starters you said performance got choppy when there was a lot of things going on screen. Maintaining at least a constant 60fps is a must for Warframe, the game is too fast paced to aim and maneuver properly at lower FPS. Digital Extremes should allow people to tweak the graphics on PS4 and Xbox One like they did on the Switch. Tons of people play Warframe on potato PCs but still get good framerates due to the game's scalability. They did turn down the amount of particle effects but it is still a frame rate killer if everyone is using a weapon or ability that creates particles and there are bunch of enemies on screen. The Earth levels especially Plains Of Eidolon are the most demanding due to all the foliage. I get the occasional dip when a lot is going on screen on those levels and I'm using a GTX 1080. Once you get to the higher end stuff you'll be seeing particles flying everywhere because a lot of the heavy damage dealing weapons are energy based like the Arca Plasmor which is one of the most popular weapons in the game. But you should get some good performance on Xbox One X and a lot less dips when things get intensive in comparison to the base consoles.

I think the play style of Warframe is one of the the things that also turns console gamers off from it especially as a third person shooter it isn't a cover based one and is very fast paced. I describe Warframe as a third person Quake or Unreal Tournament while not knowing for a while that Digital Extremes use to describe Warframe in the same way. The closest experience they'd likely have before Warframe would be Vanquish and that game barely managed to sell a million and PS3 and X360 combined. While Warframe plays decent with a controller its almost a different game with mouse and keyboard with all the tricks you can pull off due to the accuracy of a mouse that and doing doing parkour is generally a lot easier. The game leans more towards PvE than PvP content. I've noticed that the gamers that want more PvP content are those that play on consoles so that may be another reason why they don't play it as much.

The Division 2 is definitely a step up from the first Division for the reasons you said and they're also the reasons why Warframe succeeds as well. Listening to players and maintaining an active communication line with them is very important. You could see why Anthem was such a flop when the Bioware staff suddenly acted as if they were blind when they got non stop comments asking about loot in the livestream. I definitely can't say should release today. It took 6 years of development to get them where they are now which is around the amount of time Destiny, The Division and Anthem needed as well (although Anthem wasted most of its time). If anything I feel like Warframe is just getting started now that most of the systems have a solid foundation and their is a good amount of story content and they're transitioning to make open world levels which was what they wanted to do in the first place. We've gotten 2 open world levels 2 years in a row now so I'm expecting a new open world level or at the very least an expansion to the ones already out.

These "games as a service" looter shooters should just go F2P like Warframe that way people won't be as upset over the microtransactions but these publishers are too damn greedy that they want to charge people $60 for the base game, $20-$40 for their short expansions and monetize the game as if it is F2P. They're starting to move into Pay-To-Win territory too. They're too dumb to realize that if they cut back on their greed and just go F2P they'd likely make a lot more money than with their current strategy as the games that make the most money are all F2P anyway.

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#45 Posted by Raining51 (1124 posts) -

Whatever.

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#46 Posted by PCgameruk (2273 posts) -

When Xbox added Fight night champions and Skate 3 to its backwards compatibility, they opened servers again because people were still playing them. Does EA listen? No.