Paying Extra For Early Access Cannot Be The Industry Norm

More and more companies are starting to adopt this practice.

Story Highlights

  • Paid early access has slowly been getting more mainstream over the years.
  • As long as gamers keep throwing money at these games nothing will change.
  • To see any real change, collective effort needs to be taken.

With the global economy basically threatening to enter a recession any moment now, I think it’s safe to assume that things aren’t going well for a lot of us. Honestly, things haven’t been looking good for a long time now.

And without being too reductive about numerous ongoing geopolitical issues, these days the threat of impending doom is just a little bit more serious than it’s been in decades. Food prices are soaring, petrol is unaffordable, and owning a home is nigh impossible for most of us.

But more importantly, did you hear that publishers have started to embrace the $70 price tag for games as the new standard?

Not being able to eat is one thing. But games getting more expensive, now that’s the real crime.

Heavy On The Wallet

The Different Star Wars Outlaws Editions
Star Wars Outlaws Offers Two Different Early Access Options. (Image Credits: Ubisoft)

Joking aside though, this is not a good time to be a working-class gamer, and it doesn’t help that so many premium games these days try to bleed us dry any way they can.

And here I’m specifically talking about publishers charging extra for early access to their games, a trend that has existed in the industry for a while now, but is now reaching unparalleled levels of absurdity.

In recent memory, two big titles have made headlines for this practice, and behind both are corporations notorious for their greed.

These are Blizzard Entertainment and their upcoming Warcraft: The War Within expansion, and Ubisoft and their newest game Star Wars Outlaws. Both games offer a 3-day early access period for those willing to dish out some extra money at a minimum of $89.99 and $109.99 respectively.

This cannot, and should not, be the norm for most AAA games, and yet it’s quickly becoming just that. For any meaningful change to take place, customers have to start voting with their wallets, or else nothing will change.

Lack Of Real Pushback

But as much as most of us protest against this practice, there is no real solidarity among the general gamer community. Hundreds of thousands of players will pre-order these deluxe editions if they haven’t already.

Both of these titles in particular also belong to communities notorious for their hardcore dedication to their chosen fandom. I mean, we’re talking about World of Warcraft and Star Wars here, they both have literal gaming conventions dedicated to their properties.

Mobilizing these particular communities might be a tad difficult, and the same can also be said about other fandoms across the spectrum.

Some of our older readers may remember the great Modern Warfare 2 boycott of 2009 when fans banded together to fight for dedicated servers. The result, well, at least we got this one incredible image out of it.

Modern Warfare 2 Boycott Steam Group.
Let’s Just Say The Boycott Didn’t Achieve Its Goals. (Image Credits: Steam)

So once again, there is no real solidarity among the gaming community.

And as funny as this one particular image is, chances are that if a significant chuck of the COD community had followed through with their threats and boycotted the game, they might have gotten dedicated servers. I’m not saying it was guaranteed, but there was at least a chance it could have happened.

A Bleak Future

An Image of Oblivion's Paid Horse Armor.
If A Company Can Charge For Horse Armor, What Won’t It Charge For? (Image Credits: Bethesda Softworks)

Now I don’t mean to sound so doom and gloom about the future of video games, but chances are very high that things will only get worse from here.

We’ve all seen these practices slowly creep into the mainstream over the years, and the executives behind these decisions are certainly not going to grow a conscience and change their ways. If anything, I expect to see shadier and shadier practices going forward.

Right now, the only consolation to paid early access seems to be the fact that most of the time it comes bundled with season passes or some sort of additional content. You’re getting something, no matter how insignificant, with it.

Yet I can easily imagine a future where the only thing you get is early access and nothing else. In your heart of hearts, you know that a company like EA will attempt to charge you $19.99 just to let you play a game a week early. The only question is when they’ll be comfortable enough to go through with it.

And as much as we like to think we can make an impact on the industry by making personal choices not to give money to these companies, the reality is that this requires collective effort.

We don’t even have to go out into the streets or anything, we simply need to learn to vote with our wallets.

There are studios out there like Larian and FromSoft that are putting out some incredible games that give so much more than their price tags demand. So let’s learn to support them in any way we can, and stay away from those looking to cheat us of our money.

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Huzaifa is eXputer's Review Editor, who’s all about RPG games. He’s got several years of experience critically judging games and writing his unbiased thoughts on them. You can also find his content published on sites like Twinfinite & GearNuke. Huzaifa has been gaming for 23+ years, during which he managed to amass 400+ hours on Elden Ring! You can follow his gaming activity on his Xbox and Steam Profiles.

Experience: 5+ years || Previously Worked At GearNuke & Twinfinite || Mainly Covers RPG Guides & Latest Games Reviews || Education: Bachelors in Hospitality.

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