Dear BioWare, We Need to Talk…

Dear BioWare, We Need to Talk…

Before I get into what I am about to say, it should be noted that the opinions expressed in this article are solely my own. It is not the opinion of our site as a whole, nor will this mean that our site will become anti-BioWare (because honestly, that would just be stupid). I personally feel that, as a gamer and a fan of BioWare, there are some things that need to be addressed.

For many years I’ve been a BioWare fan girl. I cracked out on Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic so much that, if I even go towards the game now, Chris knows that I’ll spend easily a couple of weeks playing it non-stop. When you think about it, what’s not to love about KotOR? It gave us Darth Revan and HK-47, two of my all-time favorite video game characters, plus I got to be a badass Sith Lord. What? Did you actually think I’d be stupid and go Jedi? Pfff… shows how well you know me!

I then fell in love with BioWare again when playing Jade Empire. It had a rich storyline, I could play through as multiple different characters, and it was just a really great game. It was a game where I would’ve gladly purchased sequels or even spin-offs. Unfortunately there is only the original Xbox title and no talks of doing another Jade Empire, but if they did, I would snag that up immediately.

Then I heard that this great little game called Dragon Age: Origins would be coming out. It’s clear that I love RPG’s, and it’s obvious that I’m a fan of the way BioWare creates entire worlds and mythos, so purchasing Dragon Age was a no-brainer for me. While we didn’t purchase the game at launch, it was purely due to financial reasons. When we did pick up a copy, Chris and I found ourselves in a battle for the 360. It got so fierce that we even had to switch off and assign ourselves shifts. That’s how serious we got over this game.

Chris went with a dwarf noble warrior whereas I actually had to start over and change what I wanted. My initial game was as a female elven mage, but I wanted to kick ass and take names, so I switched things up and created Ava, my human noble warrior. The both of us got really into the look of our characters, how we wanted them to be, what they would say, etc. It was clear that BioWare had, again, knocked it out of the park with Dragon Age. There were nights where Chris would stay up all night long slaughtering Darkspawn, and then when he would be at work I’d sit down and use Shale to completely obliterate anything in my path. When we heard about the Awakening expansion, Chris went and used a week of his vacation to take place during its launch so he could play it. Taking things a step further, we even purchased the Dragon Age novels to find out more about the history of Ferelden, and we even found out more about Duncan which was awesome because, you know, Duncan kicks ass.

In the midst of being caught in a Dragon Age fog, Star Wars: The Old Republic was announced and, as a fierce hater of MMORPG’s, I have to snag a copy of that game. Granted, it’s not the KotOR III fans have been wanting, but we will still get to visit all of the familiar planets like Korriban, and we get our HK-47 back! Helloooo meatbags!

Here is where things start to head south:

Back in mid-October of last year, Executive Producer Mark Durrah announced that, even before the game was even released, that they had two full calendar years of DLC support coming for Dragon Age: Origins. Think I’m making this up? Check out the articles on Kotaku and Destructoid. In an interview he gave to The Game Reviews, Mark said:

“We have plans that stretch out for basically two years. And it’s going to be everything from really small stuff like item packs up to larger quests that might last an hour or two up to even fully fledged expansion packs. Really it’s a broad long term support plan for the game.”

Two years, eh? Well, Witch Hunt is being advertised as the last DLC for Origins, the final quest for your Grey Warden and the end of the Origins storyline, but wait, what is that oh magical calendar on the wall? It hasn’t even been a full year since the release of Dragon Age? OH YOU ARE CORRECT! Origins was released in North America on November 3rd of last year, and then throughout the rest of that month and into December, it was released in various countries and continents like Australia, Europe, and Japan.

Now, I’m shit at math, and please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong but if a game was released on November 3rd, 2009, and if it’s supposed to have two years of additional content like DLC, expansions, etc, but on September 6th, 2010, not even a full year after the release of the game, they are already saying they’re flat out done… hmmm….it just doesn’t add up kiddos!

To sum up what little fans have received, take a look at this:

Those that purchased the game received the Blood Dragon Armor set, along with The Stone Prisoner DLC that gave us Shale. That DLC is priced at $15.00, but really the only thing you get out of it is an additional character. The entire DLC is very short, not even warranting the ridiculous price.

As for item packs, the only one ever released was Feastday Gifts & Pranks. One item pack. Woo hoo.

For the longest time, the only Dragon Age items available in the Avatar Marketplace were t-shirts and baseball caps. Finally we saw more items come, but that didn’t happen until this summer. Even then, there is much less available, in terms of outfits and accessories, than with other popular games. Example: the only female outfit available is Morrigan. I could’ve sworn that we also had Wynne and Leliana in our party, but I have to wear glasses now so maybe my vision is failing me.

We were given one expansion: Awakening. Priced at $39.99, the only original party member to return is Oghren. Depending on your relationship with Alistair, you see him for like not even 5 minutes. Oh, and you see Wynne for like 5 minutes, but that’s it. There’s no mention of your Dog, Shale, Sten, Zevran… nobody. Instead we were given Arl Rendon Howe’s son, Nathaniel, a wimpy mage named Anders, and some other people that I can’t even think of right now because that’s how insignificant they are. The expansion went into The Architect and The Mother, so we got a little backstory regarding the Darkspawn.

Now to the DLC….Warden’s Keep was a brief $7.00 DLC that went into the history of the Grey Wardens, and even though we got the chest to store items, we weren’t able to go back to it in other DLC  or expansions. A critical flaw. Return to Ostagar. Priced at just $5.00, that DLC was riddled with flaws, bugs, and massive drama leading up to the delayed release. It was probably one of the worst DLC’s for the entire game, Duncan’s body was never found, and really all you got was King Cailans armor. Then we got the Darkspawn Chronicles. Again priced at $5.00, this DLC could’ve been so much more. Instead of playing as your Grey Warden, you assume the role of a Hurlock Vanguard and you can control other Hurlocks, Genlocks, Ogres, etc. It was ridiculously short, like the other DLC’s, and at the end I was sort of given this empty feeling.

With Leliana’s Song we got to know more about Leliana herself. How Marjolaine betrayed her, how she came to be a member of The Chantry, and got to really kick ass with her. Why wasn’t Leliana as strong and as effective when with the Grey Warden? Obviously this one required you to have new party members since Leliana hadn’t met anybody yet, but there was a lot of content crammed into a short DLC, and one would’ve expected more for $7.00.

In Golems of Amgarrak we saw a drop in the price again, back to $5.00, and we could be our Grey Warden. This DLC would’ve been perfect to have Shale come back, but again there were no familiar faces. There were mentions of people, like Branka for example, but this DLC wasn’t heavy on the story at all, and the color changes towards the end of it started to give me a migraine. This too was short.

Finally we have Witch Hunt. Now, who in their right mind thought it would be appropriate to end such an epic story, such an epic tale, with not even two hours of downloadable content? WHO!? Witch Hunt takes place a year after the Archdemon was slain, but there is no proper prologue to tell you how things have gone. When I found out I’d be getting my Dog again, I was excited, but that excitement quickly changed to frustration when the game didn’t even remember the name or attributes I gave to it. You’d think that, since you’re hunting down Morrigan and all, that some of your former companions would join you as I’m sure they are curious about her disappearance as well!

Granted, we finally found out what that Dalish Elven mirror was all about, but it was brief and they could’ve expanded on it and make it something truly awesome. Instead, we were given a short tale about it, the statue in the Circle of Magi telling me to get ancient lights and to scry with the broken mirror glass, and then boom… I find Morrigan and the game is over. That’s literally what happened. If you had Alistair knock her up, surely he’d want to come along and find out what has happened with his demon spawn, right? There was no mention of him at all, and when you talk to Morrigan, all you get is vague answers. Sooo… is Flemeth dead or not? If she isn’t, then where is she? Where are YOU going when you step through that mirror? Where is the baby and who has him? You say that a change is coming, but what is it? WE NEED ANSWERS!  Oh, but wait… it’s the last DLC for Origins and the end of the story, so we won’t be getting any goddamn answers.

The total cost for Origins, Awakening expansion, and the DLC we purchased comes out to $124.99. The kicker? An Ultimate Edition of Dragon Age: Origins is expected to be released with all of the bonus content, all of the add-ons, and what’s the price for that? Rumored to only be $59.99. What a kick in the balls to all of the loyal fans of the game, eh BioWare?

All of the DLC itself (excluding Stone Prisoner as that came with the game) cost us $36.00, but if each DLC (again not including Stone Prisoner) only gave us like, an average of an hour and fifteen minutes of gameplay (and that’s giving it a generous average), and with there having been only 6 DLC’s, we had 450 minutes of additional gaming. Divide that by 60 minutes, and we get 7.5 hours. Almost $40.00 for not even 8 full hours of gameplay. Why not just say “fuck it” to the DLC and give us proper expansions like Awakening? At least then I had easily over 20 hours of gameplay and it only cost me $39.99. A much better deal if I say so!

As a gamer, I’m pissed because I was promised something (two years of additional content to support a fantastic game), but I was fucking cheated. I was given a shit ending to an epic game, I wasn’t even given a full calendar year of additional content, and what content I was given really didn’t live up to the standard BioWare has set for itself. As a consumer, I’m even more pissed off because, like I stated above, what content we did pay for didn’t even make it worth it. Fans literally pissed their hard-earned money down the drain.

Gaming is a luxury, as much as I’d hate to admit it, but it really is. A lot of the gamers lack the financial means to constantly plunk down $60 bucks here and there to pick up all of the titles they want. Hell, I am so behind on getting all of the games I want simply because we can’t afford it and have to prioritize which ones we do get. Most of the time, it’s when they are on sale or if I have a coupon from Best Buy. That’s just the way things are right now. But, BioWare, a company gamers have grown to trust to always deliver solid content, solid story, solid gameplay…. they just dropped the fucking ball – hard.

Will I be getting Dragon Age 2? Probably, and that’s because I’m a fucking idiot. Am I happy about the fact that it’s a new lead character? Hell no. I wanted to port my Grey Warden over and continue to be amazing because I put in over 100 hours of my life and over $100 dollars to get her to that point.

Look BioWare, I love you. I really, really do. I just can’t believe that you’d do me dirty like this, but it’s not over between us. I’ll still be there when SW:tOR comes out, and I’ll probably still want to have your little game babies… but part of the magic we had between us is gone. *sniff sniff*

  • geht’s noch

    Yes, you are so fucking spot on.

    Very well-written and I agree 100%. Please email a link to this article to Bioware, they need to read this.

    And I won’t be buying Dragon Age II. I’ve been a Bioware fan since Baldur’s Gate, but goddamnit, I will not stand for such shoddy story/character development (maybe development isn’t the right word… resolution?) and I will not stand for the growing trend of ripping off gamers with DLC.

    • Thank you so much 🙂 At first I was a little worried how people would take it, and I honestly expected trolls to come in and say stuff such as “well if you didn’t like the first DLC’s, then why did you keep buying them?” While it’s a valid question, the answer is simple: I kept hoping that we would get better content, I kept hoping that we would eventually get a second expansion since we allegedly had two years. Plus, I genuinely like BioWare’s games.

      My husband, Chris, has been a fan of theirs since Neverwinter Nights, so we’ve both been into their games for many years, and while Dragon Age: Origins is a brilliant game on its own, the DLC’s completely ruined what it was supposed to be about, and the ending wasn’t what it should’ve been by any means. I think one of the problems is that, time after time, BioWare has delivered some amazingly solid games, some I even mentioned in the original post. They really set the bar high, as far as expectations go, and they didn’t live up to them at all. Sure you could say that they don’t owe us anything and that we are just customers, but they really do. Without us,they wouldn’t be in business. They need to cater to us to keep themselves in business doing what they do, and what they love. With the way the DLC’s were handled, I felt like more of a dollar sign than a gamer, and I don’t ever want to have to feel that way.

      When I was laying in bed last night I was thinking more about this, and doing some number crunching in my head, and check this out: for the full price of Dragon Age: Origins, which was $60.00 plus tax, I was given over 100 hours of gameplay, multiple different origins to play through as, and 52 achievements (including the two you get from Stone Prisoner). If each DLC was 2 hours of gameplay (and that is giving it a high average, came with 3 achievements for each one (even though some only came with one or two achievements, like Return to Ostagar), was priced at $5 dollars each, and if we were given 12 of them (5×12=60), that would only give us 24 hours of gameplay, and only 36 achievements.

      We were given half of that in DLC content, but even if they did pump out twelve, that is less than 1/4 of the time I get when playing the actual game. Where is the value in that? Where is the incentive to basically screw myself over financially?

      As for Dragon Age II, I won’t be getting it at launch, which will suck, but I refuse to pay full price for a game where I know that, down the line, the price will drop and I’ll probably get some nifty Ultimate Edition.

      Thanks again for enjoying the article 🙂 I’m rather proud of it myself.

  • Leif

    You see, I feel very similarly, but I get my point across by NOT buying DA 2.

    • I still love the games BioWare comes out with, so I would be denying myself some amazing titles if I chose to no longer purchase their games. I can’t wait for SW:tOR to come out, and I’m curious about DA 2, but I won’t be getting the title at launch. Sometimes we are given games in advance to review but, and I might be wrong (although I sincerely doubt it), I don’t see us getting an advanced copy of any BioWare game anytime soon, haha!

  • Austin Alan

    I am still playing PSX games I am so far behind… too many games cost too much money, and take up way too much of our time

    • If a game takes many hours to complete I don’t care. Sure that is 100 hours of my life that I’ll never get back, but did I enjoy what time I did spend? Fuck yes I did. When I played Final Fantasy VII, I maxed out the clock and I didn’t care. I wanted to get 100%! I would rather spend $60 on something like Dragon Age and get over 100 hours of gameplay, multiple origin stories and endings, etc, rather than spending $60 on some action title and get maybe, MAYBE 20 hours of gameplay. Play through a campaign on Halo and tell me how long it took you to complete it. Sure they give you other features like local & online co-op/multiplayer, but what if you aren’t interested in features like that? What if you get bored of multiplayer? I guess that means the game starts to collect dust on your shelf, eh?

      With Halo 2, I played over 9,000 games. 9,000! A lot were Hardcore rounds, but there were some custom scrims. If you average that each game was 10 minutes (which is a low average since there were custom games that went well over 30 minutes… zombies, troy, etc), that means I played 90,000 minutes. If I divide that by 60, that gives me 1,500 hours. If I then divide that by 24, that gives me 62.5 days – over two months. There’s no way I would’ve been able to stay awake that long, haha!

      When you love video games, and when you love the memories you take away from playing them, spending a lot of your time doesn’t matter. I will never forget the amazing no-scopes, the insane flag captures, and so much more and it was time well spent.

  • Austin Alan

    I have spent well over 200 hrs in the STALKER series, I love a game where you dont notice how long you have played

    if you notice…the game isnt interesting enough 😛

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