Forge Report – Inside development of Exclusive Microtransactions

written by Fyren

 

Inside Anthem’s development

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This week in stories that just won’t go away, we learn about some of the inner workings that led to Anthem’s very disappointing launch. In an excellent piece of journalism by Kotaku’s Jason Schreier, it is uncovered that the development of the game was mired in numerous issues. The article is very long and packed with information so I will attempt to summarize. The vision for Anthem was never set in stone. The majority of the 6 year development time was spent in pre-production with different Bioware studios and executives going back and forth on what the game should be. There was confusion about what direction the project was heading up to and even after the trailer that generated so much hype at E3 2018. That trailer was a complete farce as we now know, but not in the bold faced evil way that we thought. Much of the development team spent the next year after that demo/trailer was created trying to make the game that was shown on stage. They had received that at the same time we did. While our expectations soared, developers were in constant crunch time with a “I guess this is what we’re making?” kind of attitude. Even the flying mechanic, which most reviews praise as the game’s strongest point, was up in the air. It seemed through the entire process that no decisions were made and this left developers floundering and back tracking much of their work. This is not even to mention the decision to use EA’s Frostbite engine which essentially restarted development and is a notoriously difficult engine to work with. Anthem was a flop, no one can deny that. However, learning all this about the process that went into it, I’m not angry… just sad. It’s sad when a talented team lacks directions and is led down a path that they themselves do not want to travel. I just wish we could have seen the game that the team wanted to make in the first place and not the rushed, mismanaged, and cobbled together mess that they actually released.

 

Borderlands 3 is the next Epic Store exclusive

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They didn’t announce it on stage at PAX and now we know why. After the hype had died down a little bit from the announcement of the game, 2K Games, the publisher for Gearbox and the Borderlands series, announced that Borderlands 3 would indeed be a timed exclusive for the Epic Games Store. It was a risk that they were willing to take. Naturally, gamers just about everywhere are furious. Now, this is something that both 2K and Gearbox knew were coming so I imagine that the check from Epic must have been enormous. It is simple math really. You will lose X number of sales by being an exclusive and Epic will cover that difference plus a little extra to sweeten the deal. What does this mean for the consumers? Well, boycotting the Epic Store may hurt Epic a little bit, though they can afford it as Fortnite is still making all of the money. The developer however will not be phased in the slightest. They’ve already cashed Epic’s check. This means that more developers are going to agree to these exclusive deals as long as Epic continues throwing their money around. In response to this announcement, angry fans began review bombing the older Borderlands titles on Steam. As pictured above, many of these reviews are just not helpful and has led Steam to institute an off topic review policy that subsequently removed many of these bombing attempts. I, for one, will happily wait the extra 6 months until the game comes to Steam. The Epic Games has no support for Linux, which has recently become my OS of choice, and further they have stated that they have no plans to add support for it. Steam on the other hand has an immense and ever growing support structure for me. I realize not everyone is in the same situation where the decision is so easy though. I have heard from many friends and others that they plan to avoid the PC version at launch and buy the game on console instead in order to avoid the Epic Games Store. With all this talk of boycott though, there remains a simple truth. Many who publicly announce that they will not support Epic in this, come launch day, will quietly buy the game anyway and not admit it to anyone.

 

Fallout 76 does it again

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I thought we were done with this one… from the canvas bag controversy to the numerous bugs and lacking visuals I really thought that Fallout 76 was done. Previously, Pete Hines of Bethesda Softworks had stated that there would never be any game impacting micro-transactions for Fallout 76. Yet, here we are with an announcement that repair kits will be sold for Atoms in the Atomic Shop. The promises that flatly stated that micro-transactions would be cosmetic only now lie in pieces, broken on the floor. This should come as no surprise though, as the game continues to be mired in controversy I imagine that revenue from the title is falling far short of the company’s expectations. In order to make up for that they are now trying to squeeze as much money as they can out of the handful of people that are still playing Fallout 76. Even the people amongst us here at Reforged Gaming that thoroughly enjoyed Fallout 76 have moved on to other games now. Honestly, this isn’t surprising or even that big of a deal but it is still disappointing that one of my favorite developers is breaking promises in a fashion that would make Sean Murray, of No Man’s Sky infamy, blush.

 

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