Published on June 15th, 2011 | by Brandon8
Battlefield 3 Pre-Order Exclusives – Why You Should Be Pissed Off (Update)
Determined to ruin every bit of good press Battlefield 3 has received so far, EA announced this past weekend what it’s calling the Battlefield 3 Limited Edition: Physical Warfare Pack. This pre-order package has currently only been announced for customers who pre-order the game through UK-based GAME or Gamestation. However, EA apparently plans to offer this pack in other regions as well, through other “exclusive” retail partners.
First, the notion that you’re denied a truly complete version of the game unless you buy from a specific retailer makes me physically ill. It shows that EA isn’t concerned about your playing experience; they’re concerned about keeping their large retail partners happy (and, of course, pocketing a lot of cash in the process).
Additionally, in regard to pre-order bonuses, there’s one line game publishers should never cross: exclusive multiplayer items that affect gameplay. This weekend, EA decided to step over that line by announcing three multiplayer items that will be available only to customers who pre-order the Physical Warfare Pack: the Type 88 LMG, flechette ammo for the DAO-12 shotgun, and a flash suppressor for the SKS sniper rifle.
Put simply, these exclusives imbalance the game in favor of those who pre-order the Physical Warfare Pack. I’ve read that some people are saying that this is no big deal, because DICE will make sure that these weapons are not overpowered. I would argue that the power of these items relative to others in the game is irrelevant; the inherent advantage lies in the fact that the items are exclusive in the first place. The very fact that certain players will have the option to use weapons and perks that are unavailable to others through any means creates an unlevel playing field. Disagree with my argument? That’s okay, just read on to see how EA itself proves me right.
Taken directly from the official blog post, regarding the flash suppressor for the SKS sniper rifle (emphasis mine):
This exclusive item is the only sniper rifle flash suppressor in the game. Attaching it to the fast-firing and high capacity SKS rifle turns you into a highly agile and versatile Recon member. For the true team-play Recon who wants to contribute at the front while staying stealthy, this weapon mod is an essential upgrade.
Boy, words like only and essential make this upgrade sound pretty powerful.
After the outrage that erupted from this announcement, EA posted a follow-up Q&A on their blog, hoping to assuage player concerns. One of the Q&A’s was:
Q: Will Physical Warfare Pack imbalance the game?
A: The three exclusive items in the Physical Warfare Pack were specifically chosen not to be overpowered or imbalance or break the game in any way.
Really? You just told me on your announcement page that the exclusive flash suppressor was the only one in the game and it was essential to being a versatile Recon player. How can you then turn around to tell me there is no imbalance?
The answer is because EA knows this will create an imbalance, if only a very slight one. EA also knows that most players are so excited for this game that they will eventually cave and just pre-order the Physical Warfare Pack so that they aren’t at a disadvantage come launch day. I think I’m most disgusted by this strategy because I know it will work (remember the MW2 boycott?). Though I may hate what EA is doing here, there’s really nothing I can do to stop the assured success of Battlefield 3 and show EA the huge mistakes they’re making here.
The only way to stop EA (and other publishers) from shoving this sort of thing down our throats in future games is to vote with our collective wallets. Unfortunately, most players (myself included) are probably going to have a hard time abstaining from playing what could easily be the game of the year, just to prove a point.