After researching the overall review scores for Bioware games after purchase by EA, I found that “quality” didn’t necessarily go down. The review scores stay pretty high. The overall score went down by two points compared to pre-EA Bioware.
However, sometimes Bioware games just miss their mark. Mass Effect: Andromeda was the first major failure, maybe Dragon Age 2 but that series didn’t get put on hiatus after its release, unlike Mass Effect.
Another idea that makes me think EA hurt the overall quality of Bioware’s game lies in the realm of DLC. I think it’s hard to judge DLC before and during EA because DLC wasn’t really a thing until well into the 360/PS3 generation. I do think the amount of DLC per game can have an impact on the overall quality. I expect the full game when I purchase at MSRP on release.
Each Bioware game now comes with DLC. To be fair, many contemporary games offer DLC after release. But, we are talking about Bioware so I can only compare different Bioware offerings.
Let’s look at each game and its respective DLC after Bioware’s purchase. I’m going to exclude DLC that focuses on aesthetic and weapons and only include story related content as I view that as being part of the complete game. While having access to all weapons and skins is cool, neither of those things change the game or add anything to it.
Dragon Age Origins
Story DLC: Warden’s Keep, The Stone Prisoner, Return to Ostagar, A Tale of Orzammar, The Darkspawn Chronicles, Leliana’s Song, The Golems of Amgarrak, and Witch Hunt. Bioware also released the expansion Dragon Age: Origins-Awakening.
Let me first point out that all of the DLC and expansions are available as part of an ultimate edition. However, that does not mean people who purchased the game on release get all of the game’s content. That leaves us with 8 separate DLC items and one expansion.
Dragon Age: Origins-Awakening released 5 months after the main game. Dragon Age Origins-Ultimate Edition released less than a year after the original game. Two DLC packs, Warden’s Keep and The Stone Prisoner, were available same day as release, meaning you had to download them outside of the disc.
The Stone Prisoner was free, but every other story focused DLC required purchase. According to PSN, the entire DLC package would cost $35.94. The Awakening expansion is listed at $19.99.
The total for all extra gaming content is almost the same as an entirely new game at $55.93. If you bought the game at release and then bought all DLC you would have paid $115.92.
Mass Effect 2
Story DLC: Normandy Crash Site, Zaeed-The Price of Revenge, Kasumi-Stolen Memory, Overlord, Lair of the Shadow Broker, and Arrival. The first two DLCs, Normandy Crash Site and Zaeed-The Price of Revenge, were available for free but were not part of the base game.
The total cost of story DLC is $30.96 or $90 for the total package of Mass Effect 2 story content. That is lower than the total cost of Dragon Age: Origins. The cost is based on the price of admission for the original Mass Effect 2 on the Xbox 360. Some DLC is included with different game editions.
Dragon Age 2
Story DLC: The Exiled Prince, Legacy, and Mark of the Assassin. The cost of these DLCs is $26.97 and created a final cost of Dragon Age 2 of $86.96. Again, this is less than both the original Dragon Age and Mass Effect 2.
You can purchase the DLC for $25 on EA’s Origin and can probably get a total package for somewhere cheaper. But, the $87 represents a final cost if you bought into the game at launch.
I’m not going to use Star Wars: The Old Republic and the expansions because MMOs don’t work the same as other games.
So far, each total cost has decreased game over game. Mass Effect 3 changes that and the free DLC on release day.
Mass Effect 3
Story DLC: From Ashes, Leviathan, Omega, and Citadel. From Ashes was available as part of a collectors edition for Mass Effect 3 and available on release day but was not free. The total cost of this story DLC is $49.96, which is almost as much as Dragon Age: Origins. The total cost of Mass Effect 3 is $109.95.
It was possible that you missed out on story content if you bought the regular edition that other people were playing on that same day.
Mass Effect 3 offered the series first multiplayer which allowed you to purchase items that impacted that multiplayer.
As Mass Effect: Andromeda didn’t have DLC, Dragon Age: Inquisition is the last game on the list.
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Story DLC: Jaws of Hakkon, The Descent, and Trespasser.
The cost of the story focused DLC is $44.97. Making the “real” cost of all story content for Dragon Age: Inquisition $104.96. Again, like other games on the list, you can purchase different versions of the game that includes the DLC for cheaper compared to release pricing. But, the cost at launch plus DLC sits right at $105.
You can also buy multiplayer currency for Dragon Age: Inquisition.
Closing Thoughts on Bioware
If you buy Bioware games at launch you can expect to pay more than $100 if you want to see everything included in the game that is story related and even more than that if you want all the armor and weapons available.
Again, the comparison between Bioware pre-EA and after purchase is hard to make since DLC didn’t necessarily become a thing around the time of that purchase.
Unfortunately, you just don’t all the story content as part of the game anymore at launch. I don’t expect that to change unless a game sells horribly, like Mass Effect: Andromeda, and all content gets canceled for the game going forward. Story DLC was probably planned but was shut down when the game launched with less than favorable reviews and sales.
I think from this research you can expect Bioware games to include DLC, multiplayer, and cosmetics in every game going forward. You should not expect all story content at the $60 price point anymore.
I feel like I should mention that this is true for many studios and publishers, not just Bioware and EA. However, I can see how people view the purchase of Bioware negatively considering how Bioware used to release story focused single player games with limited DLC.
Is DLC the issue with contemporary Bioware games, or something else?
Thanks for reading.