Much Ado About Dragon Age 2

I have always loved BioWare’s storytelling flair and ability to make you feel like you’re playing the lead character in an epic movie.  And as they continue to innovate, they try new things which always gets my attention.  While there are many examples in Dragon Age 2, 2 pop for me.

The first is the welcome addition of a third basic option in the dialogue tree…the comedic response.  The good vs. evil dilemma has been the mainstay of gaming narrative choice since the user was given a voice in the process.  This allowed the player to choose their own path through the world, and added replay value.  But there’s more to life than being simply good or simply evil, and, more importantly, there’s more to narrative entertainment than simply right or wrong.  That modality is wearing thin, and trite is boring.    Shakespeare knew this and so started writing comedies for the theater.  So too the bards at BioWare have launched the era of the comedy RPG with Dragon Age 2!  After all, I am playing for fun, and if the choices I make can make me laugh in the process, all the better.  I’ll even give up the achievement hunt for being perfectly good or desperately evil when given a chance to hear a good joke.  Bring it on BioWare!  I can only hope that other game makers follow suit, and start filling in the other theatric genres that have yet to be tapped in gaming.   

The other attention getter was how I got my hands on a copy.  Pre-orders have been around awhile.  So have deluxe editions where you pay a little extra to get a little extra.  Dragon Age 2, with Gamestop’s help, combined the two in an interesting way.  If you pre-ordered early enough (aka helped build momentum for launch day), you could get the deluxe edition content for the regular edition price.  That’s a no-brainer for the pre-order, deluxe edition crowd.  But what’s interesting is why give it to them?  These are the same folks that are most likely to fork over the extra coin anyway.  While I can only speculate, possibilities include:

  • Converting more fence-sitters to the pre-order camp
  • Generating additional goodwill & loyalty of the biggest fans, which could increase word-0f-mouth and downstream PDLC
  • Avoiding backlash of signature edition content that was either not that good, or really cheap to produce
  • Appeasing GameStop, since they benefitted the most from locking up sales and pre-orders that could have shopped elsewhere.

It will be interesting to watch how this new market ploy turns out in the sales results.  And it will be equally interesting to see how this slippery slope of appeasing the whales and the whale-sized distributors pans out for the publishers and the developers.