Pricing is a big deal in gaming as of late. Pretty much all games that are regarded as “major” or “AAA” titles have been priced at $60 on release since the mid-2000s. THQ wanted to release big games at $40 when they were still active, but never got around to it. Attempts to change the static pricing of AAA games are hit and miss; Nintendo releases their games at $40 or $50, but only those and indie games fall outside that price point.
While it was something that most people were fine with, recent years have soured folks on that pricing. Paying $60 for a game is one thing, but paying that price for a game that has content that’s clearly cut or is full of bugs and glitches is unacceptable. There’s nothing worse than paying 60 bones, putting a game in your system, waiting for it to update, and then get hit with something that sours your experience. But even worse is when there are games that lack content to fully justify their $60 pricing.
By now, everyone is playing and loving the hell out of Overwatch, the new multiplayer shooter from Blizzard. Since the reveal back at Blizzcon 2014, folks have been eating up every piece of information and playing every beta until their fingers fell off. The fandom has been anticipating this game for months, to put it mildly, and it’s great that people are finally able to play the game in full. It’s great that folks are enjoying it, and we’re among that horde of people.
There is one problem, though, and that’s the price point. While PC gamers are able to buy the game day one at $40, console players aren’t so lucky. There’s only one format that they can grab the game, and that’s as the $60 “Origins Edition”. It has nothing of huge significance that differs it from the $40 version, save for some skins and other items that are specific to other Blizzard games. And even then, most of the items in the Origins Edition are for Blizzard games that are strictly on PC, such as Tracer for Heroes of the Storm or a Baby Winston pet for World of Warcraft.
Overwatch is yet another game that’s being charged full price just on the basis of multiplayer alone. Don’t get me wrong, the multiplayer is fun — seriously, this game is addictive and a definite contender for Game of the Year if they give out content consistently. But with that said, it also doesn’t excuse how unfair it is to charge 60 bones for what’s essentially three modes (yes, there’s the Assault/Escort mode as well, but that’s literally just merging Assault and Escort together). If we’re going to raise stink about Titanfall and Star Wars Battlefront shipping with no single-player, then this game deserves that criticism too.
The lack of a story mode is even more baffling considering the emphasis on story that Blizzard has been putting on the game, thanks to supplemental content and the various short films. Both the aforementioned Battlefront and Titanfall have backdrops for players to be shooting each other in, but that’s all they are: backdrops. Overwatch has been giving as much focus on its own story and lore as it has the gameplay and various characters. To their credit, Blizzard has said that they don’t think a story mode would work, and would in fact conflict with the multiplayer gameplay. Director Jeff Kaplan said that “the characters are cool when you combine them together… some don’t play well alone, either. Unless we built a campaign around supporting somebody else, a support character like Mercy probably wouldn’t do well.”
While that’s a fair explanation, it also doesn’t mean that there can’t be some sort of compromise. Not every character can be a winner in a 5-8 hour story mode, fair enough, but there are plenty of characters among that 21-person roster that’ll do. Even if a solo mode wouldn’t be ideal, why aren’t there co-op missions in the vein of Spec Ops from the Modern Warfare games or Destiny’s Strike missions? These folks all have histories and backstories that link up with each other and the larger backstory that brought them all together. The only way to know more about these people and their world is either through the various pieces of supplemental lore on the internet, or listening to character chatter during matches, which is a crapshoot. Story elements will be fleshed either outside the game or through the cinematics, but they can only satiate fans’ need for knowledge for so long.
Despite being less than a month old, Battleborn’s already being knocked down to $40, which has garnered mockery from folks, as it happened the day before Overwatch came out. While it’s fun to make jokes, Battleborn at least has multiplayer and single-player to justify why it was $60. Overwatch doesn’t, and while it is a hell of a lot of fun, that doesn’t excuse the lack of single-player and extra content that majorly isn’t even for its own game. I’ll be getting it on PS4 for sure, but being forced to pay an extra $20 for stuff featured in other Blizzard games that I don’t own or plan on owning isn’t fair.