I remember when we complained that games had multiple editions at all: standard, deluxe, ultimate. "How far will they go?" We wondered. Oh, what a simple, beautiful time that was. As it turns out, they'll go as far as they possibly can.
The two best examples of edition bloat right now are Anthem and The Division 2, which have staggered release schedules mixed with different deluxe versions that make the process of buying either game so complicated you need to reference a damn chart just to figure out when you can play.
While not impossible to decipher, Athem's chart is so cluttered with dumb proper nouns that it makes my eyes glaze over, and that's not helped by the inclusion of sections dedicated for its "Play First Trial" which let's you try out the first 10 hours so long as you're subscribed to Origin Access—but doesn't actually get you the game.
This isn't the first time that EA has experimented with staggering the release of a game so that it can upsell customers on subscriptions. Battlefield 5 also had a ridiculously dumb chart that spelled out all the different ways players could jump into the game and start playing well ahead of its actual launch date—leaving those poor chumps who actually purchased the standard edition at the back of the queue.
The undisputed king of complicated release charts is Ubisoft, however. It's been an ongoing trend with many of their games, but this Division 2 chart is on another level, totally bloated with unexplained addons and in-game bonuses that are meaningless to just about everyone. I like to imagine a Ubisoft executive thinking "Man, people sure do love buying cell phone plans, I wonder how we could incorporate that experience into selling videogames?"
Seriously, imagine a poor parent just trying to buy their kid The Division 2 and having to figure out this:
Fortunately, lots of people realize how ridiculous it is that buying a game has become more complicated than buying insurance, so at least we can feel validated. When the EA Help Twitter account first posted what they believed would be a helpful chart, everyone on Twitter immediately started making fun of it.
Want to know when you can play #AnthemGame? Here's a breakdown of when you can get your hands on it, and get more info on the Open Demo coming up this weekend: pic.twitter.com/bobhCuPDtcJanuary 31, 2019
Your chart should look more like this. pic.twitter.com/5wTqHf16yQFebruary 1, 2019
EA creating their chart pic.twitter.com/aDAxqRB7qrJanuary 31, 2019
I would write something more about why this kind of practice is irritating, but Tristan Zipp on Twitter already did that for me.
These staggered releases are idiotic. It's not "early access", the game is finished and ready to be shipped at that point, that is the real release day. This is not about giving early access to some people, it's about making people who want to actually own the game wait 🙄January 31, 2019