“That’s not how the market forces work!”
Star Wars: Squadrons is a bit of an oddity as both a recent Star Wars game and an EA game in general. It’s developed by Motive Studios who last collaborated with DICE and Criterion Games on Star Wars Battlefront 2. Whilst Battlefront 2 has no doubt progressed beyond its formerly defining loot box controversy in 2017, Star Wars: Squadrons feels like the biggest answer yet to that break of player trust.
Star Wars: Squadrons promised from the start to be a standalone game with a budget price point of £35, no microtransactions, and no live-service business approach. In an interview with UploadVR, creative director Ian Frazier has now clarified that ‘no live-service’ really does mean no plans for new game modes, ships, maps, or any kind of DLC.
“We don’t want to say, ‘It’s almost done!’ and then dribble out more of it over time, which to be honest is how most games work these days,” said Frazier.
“So we’ve tried to treat it in kind of an old-school approach saying, ‘You’ve paid the $40, this is the game and it’s entirely self-contained. We’re not planning to add more content, this is the game, and we hope you understand the value proposition.’”
Have they overcorrected?
In what is surely a very interesting case study in the normalisation of business strategies over the decades, many players are taking to forums to indicate that they do want more long-term support for the game. Even my calling it ‘support’ shows how embedded these business practices are now in our psyches.
It goes to show that a standalone game isn’t the uncontroversial, pro-consumer move it might once have been. Particularly when it comes to a multiplayer title, regular updates or new content are seen as standard practice in maintaining an active player population.
I imagine DLC could well come down the road if Star Wars: Squadrons continues to prove popular. It just hasn’t been in active development pre-release, nothing has been cut out of the base game to sell, and nothing has yet been planned. Even if it is the case there’s no more content, could Star Wars: Squadrons not maintain its population based on the quality of its base game alone?
As a major example of bucking the trend, Star Wars: Squadrons will be one to watch. Not for any new content on this occasion, but for how it pulls off the standalone multiplayer game in 2020.