Anthem comes out next week. Well kind of. Maybe. Not really. It’s hard to explain. That’s why we have a handy chart for it, see?
This chart has been passed around the last few weeks as an attempt to explain who exactly gets access to Anthem and when, split between the demo, early previews of the full game, early releases of the full game, and the full game itself, split between two tiers of EA Access/Premiere members and normal customers. Got all that?
EA has gotten out of control when it comes to trying to make their subscription Access service attractive to the point where they’re messing with release dates and actively harming games. Battlefield V didn’t meet expectations for a number of reasons this fall, and yet I am willing to bet one of them was that no one seemed to know when the damn game came out because it had a bizarre staggered released that looked almost exactly like this, though even when it did come out, big chunks were still missing, like its promised battle royale mode.
With Anthem, things may not be quite as bad, but this is still utter nonsense, despite whatever other benefits EA Access might provide. To try to explain what this chart means for release:
1. Origin Access Premiere players will get the entire game released on February 15, a full week early. This will no doubt result in hundreds of streamers blazing through the story content and into the endgame before the game is even released for 95% of the playerbase.
2. EA/Origin Access member will get just a 10 hour preview of the full release that same day, but this only includes PC and Xbox One, and PS4 players don’t even have a look at this early, weirdly timed out preview. I’m not exactly sure what you can get done in the first ten hours, but most people will blaze through that in a day or two and then they just…wait I guess?
3. Then the game actually comes out for everyone on February 22, but by then everyone is in a different place and dodging internet spoilers since obviously the game will have been beaten by PC players by then.
For me personally, I genuinely have no idea how to even cover this launch because even if best case, I end up with both PC and Xbox codes on the 15th, what do I do? I want my main to be Xbox One for the long haul here (I’m just not a PC shooter guy), but PC is the only way I’ll be able to play more than 10 hours that first week. Do I go as far as I can on PC then go back to Xbox and start over? This is just so bizarre.
Look, I get it, EA wants people to sign up for EA Access so they can be the person who gets early releases. And yet among the perks I think services like this should offer, early release dates like this should just not be in the cards. I don’t think it’s worth it to totally bungle a launch because no one is on the same page with three different release dates/preview levels, and everyone would benefit from just saying here, Anthem comes out on February 15 on all platforms. Go play it. You know, like almost every other game does.
EA has been trying this in some for or another for a while now, but it’s getting worse, and to the point where they have to be doing more harm than good to these releases, as evidenced by BFV, and possibly by Anthem, depending on how things go this coming week (also not a great idea to release uber megahit Apex Legends a week before the launch of your next flagship IP).
It feels extremely weird to have a tiny subset of PC players have access to the full game a week early. This isn’t like review copies being sent out with an embargo. This is literally the release of the game, so players will not only be able to spoil it for others consequence free, but also be way, way more geared up than anyone else arriving at normal launch which should let them be “ahead” for probably several weeks at least as they no doubt will be the first ones to tackle all the toughest endgame content too with this kind of head start.
This system sucks. It’s bad for players and it’s bad for the game itself. Change it. The end.