Want to Play 'Anthem'? There's a Chart for That!

Instead of the standard "Weekly Link Round Up" we're going to focus on one of the snippets I posted last Friday. Specifically EA, Anthem, and the weird release date set up. As mentioned previously, depending on how you pre-ordered Anthem and if you use EA Access will determine when you get to play the betas as well as the full game. It's a convoluted system.

EA decided to help the masses by providing a chart to let everyone know how to access the game in February. Yes it's just as bad as I had previously described it. Full demo access is open to everyone starting today, regardless of what version or console you pre-ordered the game on, or if you didn't pre-order at all. The full game will be released to EA Access Premier customers on February 15. EA Access on XBox One and Basic accounts will be able to play 10 hours of the game on February 15, with a full release on February 22. If you chose to go the PS4 route, it sucks to be you. The release day for PS4 users is February 22. If you don't have an EA Access account on PC or XBox One, you too must suffer with the PS4 players and wait until February 22.

Did you get all that?

This incredibly fragmented set up is mind boggling. Anthem game director Jonathan Warner tweeted out a reminder to new followers that the release date set-up with Sony is out of BioWare's hands. This type of negotiation is between Sony and EA. His preference was to allow everyone to play at the same time.

The bottom line is if you pay for the EA Access account, and even more for the Premier account, you'll get to play Anthem early. It's not enough to drop $59.99 plus shipping on a new game. EA wants you to pony up an extra $4.99 a month ($29.99 a year). Premier members pay $14.99 a month ($99.99 a year) for additional perks such as playing games before their official launch date.

Welcome to the new world of video games. This isn't the first time EA, or Ubisoft, or SquareEnix have done this type of release strategy in an effort to boost sales, and it won't be the last. I know I'm going to sound like a Baby Boomer for a moment, but what happened to games releasing and we all play them at roughly the same time? Being able to experience new games with friends is part of the fun of gaming. These staggered release schedules now relegate gaming to the elite - only those who can afford it with time and money are given the privilege of playing a video game. How Draconian.

Like loot boxes, the only way this system will change is if people stop buying into it. EA is doing the staggered release dates because it's worked on other titles. They will most likely do the same with Madden later this year. They will continue to pursue this method of marketing until it stops working. That's how businesses work. The strongest way to send a message and ask for change, other then asking them to stop it, is to wait until the game "officially" releases before buying it. If too few people invest in the top tier subscriptions, publishers will change tactics.

As for me, I really want to play Anthem. But I'm not submitting myself to this convoluted mess.