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When Anthem was exhibited at E3 2018, one of the proudest announcements of the BioWare devs was assuring that the game would have “no loot boxes” or “pay-to-win” model, following fears that EA would prefer a more profitable model. Six months later, comments from the BioWare dev team suggest that an Anthem free-to-play model was actually considered early on in development, as a means of ensuring profitability for BioWare and EA.
These comments come from an interview in Edge Issue 329, discussing the game’s path through production with Game Director Jonathon Warner and Lead Producer Ben Irving. According to Warner, the Anthem free-to-play model wasn’t popular because it “just wasn’t a direction that the company was moving in – BioWare or EA.” The latter publisher has certainly endured multiple publicity crises over microtransactions with recent games, the latest case being the leaked Anthem $20 skins.
For the BioWare team, it was much more of a priority to avoid “being less player-generous,” and creating profitability in other areas. “People are more comfortable paying the entry fee”, Irving commented, “and then having a great player-generous model with no paid DLC, and optional vanity items.” The team has assured that the extortionate price of microtransactions uncovered during the recent beta, which itself had a whole host of technical issues, is not representative of the game’s cosmetic pricing at launch.
The premium currency of Shards can be used to purchase cosmetic items, instead of using the coins earned through normal gameplay. It’s clear that BioWare and EA have placed quite an emphasis on the profitability of players’ vanity in Anthem, but you can try out the game for yourself with their open demo this weekend for subscribers of EA Access or Origin Access.
Anthem is set to release on February 22, 2019, and will be available on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.