Have you heard the latest “Anthem is going free-to-play” rumors? They come from a blog, which I won’t link to, which claims to have an anonymous source inside EA, who states that F2P is “very much on the table” if patches don’t sufficiently improve the game and its player numbers.

According to the blog, Anthem is also considered to be a possibility for EA Access, the publisher’s subscription service, which lets players try out a bunch of games under the EA umbrella for a monthly fee. In that case, the game wouldn’t exactly be “free-to-play,” but it would be close.

This possibility has brought a lot of opinions out of the woodwork, including what Alex Avard of GamesRadar dubbed “a collective meltdown on Reddit.” He also offers the following:

Certainly, if you’re someone who paid full price for Anthem in February, only to experience a unsatisfactory product and then find out that the game would made free to everyone less than a year later, you’d be angry.

Better not tell any Anthem fans about Star Wars: The Old Republic!

The Force Is Sorta OK In This One: SWTOR Bucks The Recent Trend Of F2P Failure 7

I’ve never played Anthem, so I don’t have any emotional investment in seeing the game remain paid or free-to-play or whatever else in between. What I do know is that flipping a free-to-play switch doesn’t automagically make a game better. It just makes it more accessible. If Anthem has serious, deep-rooted issues – and it seems that it does – removing the price tag won’t solve that.

Paul Tassi of Forbes.com seems to think that the issue is less about gameplay and more about the implementation of the cash shop:

One of the core problems with Anthem’s loot loop right now is that every single piece of armor in the game, very cool sets mind you, are locked into the microtransaction store. It’s true that you can save up currency and buy them “for free” without opening your IRL wallet, and yet it’s deeply unsatisfying to play through Anthem and never have a single piece of armor drop in the wild.

That sounds to me like what happened with Guild Wars 2. For a while after the first expansion, nearly everything that looked really cool could only be acquired via the Gem Store. You could, as always, earn Gems through gameplay, but it still carried with it the mentality that if you wanted the neat-looking stuff, you had to shell out real money for it. GW2 was free-to-play by the time this became an issue, so it was annoying enough, but imagine that same situation playing out in a $60 game. Or, don’t imagine it, if you’re an Anthem player.

It comes down to this: The person or people in charge of monetization at EA needs to be better educated about current trends and player desires. And when I say “in charge,” I don’t mean the game director or the person who might have the title “Head of Monetization” or whatever it would be called, but the executives who tell that person what to do. Those people need to come to the realization that we’re no longer in a world where simply stamping “BioWare” or “Electronic Arts” or “Star Wars” on a product means it will be universally loved and gamers will fling their wallets at it, regardless of how it’s monetized. It seemed like they learned that lesson with Star Wars Battlefront II only to have forgotten it a little over a year later.

As Tassi points out, too, the game lacks content. It simply “is still not ready for primetime,” which again sounds like Star Wars: The Old Republic’s early days. In that game, as with many MMORPGs, players rushed to the level cap in the game’s first month, at a much faster pace than its creators envisioned, and found relatively little to do once they got there.

The point of it is, before pulling the trigger on any free-to-play move on Anthem – which I could see happening by the end of the year – EA and BioWare have a lot of work to do. They at least need to figure out how to handle monetization, something they’ve really struggled with the past few years, in addition to adding more content for that prospective influx of new players. If it does happen, I could see something implemented similar to Star Wars: The Old Republic, which, unpopular as it was, steered the game back from the abyss seven years ago and might serve as a blueprint for BioWare’s other struggling game.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Popular f2p games never shutdown, but expensive games like this gonna very ez RIP. Desinty 2 ShadowKeep comes to steam F2p, ill gonna play it.

  2. Doubt, this game ain’t cheap that’s no Bless, people who bought it wont be happy and that’s would be just another nightmare for them.

    • Doesn’t matter how expensive development was, if no one is buying it anymore and the population is dying it’s either free or shut down.

  3. It’s a shame really. This game could have been so much more. Regardless of how long the masterpieces take to make, take the time to make it properly. I’m not going to pretend to understand why big developers try to push these games out before they’re ready, I’m just going to assume for monetary reasons.

    They knew what they were going up against. Destiny 2 and Division 2. Anthem didn’t come close to either of these. The content was just so unfinished and uninspiring. Been playing Destiny series since launch of 1. Even that series is not what it used to be. MMOs as a whole are trending towards this loot system that’s more about the Item Level stickered on the items rather than the items themselves which is a shame. I’d much rather grind for an epic gun or sword that other players will marvel at and know by name much rather than grind just for a number, and thats all Anthem is/probably going to be.

  4. Don’t care if it was free and was the best game of all time! It’s EA!

    I refuse to go near anything marked with a EA brand again! This pure evil needs to suffer and then eradicate!

  5. Here is a way for players to experience it for free no matter how bad it is.
    That is a good thing which free to play brings = don’t dump it, let it be free instead.
    It’ll be enjoyed by other not so cash strapped players and possibly right itself or at least die trying.
    F2P is a fantastic concept for gaming and should be used in any event. This action does not put down the concept f2p by using it like this. it just gives this hard trodden game a second chance.

  6. I think the thing they need to do is make the game free for a short period. Kind of like what Microsoft, Sony, Steam and other game portals have done. People will download the game and some will say “I heard it sucked I won’t bother”. As the game gets better (if it gets better) they’ll tell their friends who may then buy it later on. After you’ve fixed the game then you can charge for the next add-ons to recoup the money (just make the add-ons are worth it).

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