EA Demos To Unlock Items In Other Games

By Jim Rossignol on January 13th, 2012 at 11:31 am.


You know, I didn’t bat an eyelid at the Mass Effect/Dragon Age pre-order crossover stuff, because it seemed like a random lark within Bioware games. Not so! And not limited to the preemptory pounds, either. EA look like they’re going to try the cross-pollinatory approach across a bunch of their other games, too, starting with Mass Effect and Kingdoms Of Amalur demos. We mentioned this briefly yesterday, but there’s now a video (below) detailing precisely what you’d be getting for playing either game’s demo in the other game. This could be some clever meta-commentary on how trad sci-fi and fantasy settings are basically two sides of the same coin, of it could be a mad marketing ploy dreamt up to shift more units: YOU DECIDE!

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79 Comments »

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  1. Jockie says:

    They did something of a similar cross-pollinatory manner with Dead Space 2 and Dragon Age 2 didn’t they?

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      Fatbubba says:

      Yes, Isaac’s armor in Dragon Age 2 for everyone who owns Dead Space 2 and Dragon Age 2 before march 31 2012

  2. cliffski says:

    This is marketing genius in some ways, but irritating as hell in others. I think there are many gamers, like me, who when they buy a game, they want the WHOLE game. Not to have half of it walled off until we clock up 200 hours, or try an unrelated demo.
    I want the game to be the game, not the marketing to be the game.

    • grundus says:

      Yep, this is annoying as hell. Problem is, I would probably do it anyway just because I like to have as much content as I can get if it’s free, and I imagine a lot of people do, so instead of boycotting it as we should it’ll just keep happening, and it’s ALL MY FAULT.

      Sorry guys. Just know that I hate myself for downloading demos. Well, no, I hate myself for presuming I will download demos to get content for a game I may or may not buy sometime in the future.

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      Carra says:

      With the last game, Dragon Age they did something similar. Plus you get item x, y and z from play.com. You get item a, b c from amazon.

      I just bought the game and then downloaded the torrent with all the extras. That got me the a, b, c, x, y, z and Dead Space items.

    • Ringwraith says:

      …so there’s a problem for this to be offering a random bit of armour and weapons, so it’s not like it’s much actual content. Dragon Age had a similar thing with some miscellaneous accessories being able to be won from playing their flash games for it, as well as offering different retailer pre-order bonuses in the same format.
      If they were blocking access to extra quests and stuff then I’d have a problem with it.

    • sneetch says:

      Although it’s annoying in some ways in others its fantastic. For one thing it’ll encourage me to try more games first rather than just taking a chance and it’s far, far better than some shop buying exclusive content that only they can sell; anyone can download and play a demo (internet plan allowing, that is) and get the thing(s).

      Mind you the “noise” caused by this kind of cross pollination is part of the reason I gave up on TF2, hats are fine, never had a problem with headwear, you can still tell a heavy from a scout from a medic quite easily but when you could no longer tell which of a couple of dozen magical devices a player was wielding and what it could do in the game then the game lost its appeal for me.

    • Squire says:

      My thoughts exactly and also this is not only annoying for completian but it effs the immersion of the game universe its in, especially Dead Space [Mass Effect to a lesser extent]. It’s one of the most polished games series around right now in terms of making you really feel like you are actually on a space ship, it all gels so well, the graphics, sound, physics etc, but when I go to the shop in-game I don’t really want to see an engineering protection suit from the year 2058 with a big red painted dragon on it. Kinda ruins it.

    • Chalky says:

      Yeah, the stuff available through these sort of promotions is a pretty loose definition of “content”. A slightly different looking bit of armour that’s functionally identical to something else isn’t going to make anyone feel “forced” to do anything..

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      jezcentral says:

      I don’t see a problem with this, as at least there is no barrier to entry. There are far worse ways to entice people to a) try new games and b) buy certain versions (like splitting different pre-order bonuses between the different retailers.)

    • Snargelfargen says:

      I actually tried to get as many of the Dragon Age items as possible, first through buying a retail copy, using a mass effect code and then playing a flash game. When I learned that there were more items, I torrented a pack containing all of them.

      Joke was on me though, as they didn’t really add anything to the game. In fact, they sort of ruined immersion since my character started off with a small fortune in armored trinkets. Why did my Dalish elf have a full set of spaceman armor anyways?!

      I see them as a pretty harmless marketing incentive for most rpgs. That said, if a publisher did this with guns in a shooter, I would be pretty pissed off.

      Edit: Dragon Age is guilty of bigger sins though. One of the main characters (Shale) was cut out of the game unless you bought it new. Apparently Bioware was so concerned about the used game market stealing sales that they decided to hamstring the game.

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      This is far less annoying than retailer exclusive dlc, but still irritating. Luckily my enthusiasm for Mass Effect 3 has pretty much bottomed out already, so I can’t really want it any less, short of not wanting it at all. I do still intend to play it at some point in the heavily discounted future.

      Perhaps this was their strategy all along. Alienate your customer base so profoundly that the ones who remain are so dead inside they can no longer summon any further reserves of irritation to the marketing hoops you want to jump them through.

    • sneetch says:

      @Snargelfargen

      I dropped the Mass Effect armour in Dragon Age straight away when I saw the stats: it was completely overpowered, since then I’ve had a tendency to ignore anything that isn’t just a visual change.

      On Shale, yeah, that was their Project $10 at its worst.

    • InternetBatman says:

      It’s kind of like they’re ignoring the comic book crash. These promotions are analogous to collector’s editions, variant covers, and you have to make more than one purchase to get the whole story (bad endings and DLC). Right now video games are sustained by the growing market, but games, especially hardcore games are doomed for a crash if they keep up with these practices.

    • Snargelfargen says:

      @InternetBatman
      What really killed the 90’s comics craze was the bubble of speculation bursting, similiar to the how the housing crisis got out of hand. People who didn’t even read comics were running out to buy a dozen copies of the latest hologram foil cover Bloodpunch Xtreme: Angryman Dies! #1 Annual, and then ended up throwing it all in the trash when they realized the comic was worth nothing just a couple years later. Some of the comics were terrible, but people were still buying them because they thought they could sell them at a profit.
      The nature of online media is such that nothing can truly be “collectible”, and the percieved value of dlc and games in general always plummets after the first year.
      You have a point though, dlc and pre-order items are already getting quite complicated. It’ll probably get to the point where people just can’t figure out where to make the best purchase and settle for whatever is most convenient. Online distributors like Gamersgate and Steam are already working on incentives to keep customers loyal without relying on exclusive items. Hopefully publishers will recognize this too.

    • Nihilexistentialist says:

      Personally I don’t care about some random piece of armor that I’m not going to use because it’ll make the game too easy early on or just flat out looks like terrible. This is also why I don’t care for pre-order bonuses. Rarely are they anything significant.

    • Alceste007 says:

      This does not bother me. This is just some flashie extras that an artist whipped up, and are even free.

    • mihor_fego says:

      For me, the demos are good news as it seems many publishers don’t care enough to release any for PC even if they do for consoles. Other than that, though, the whole concept of anything, be it an item, skin, quest or character, being accessible only through pre-order, specific store or collector’s edition is annoying. Same goes for the items here breaking the aesthetics of a game. Fantasy armor in a sci-fi game is somewhat of an abomination and to see such stupid stuff on a movie would make everyone laugh at it; why is it acceptable in a game? Especially one that prides itself in its story and detailed setting.

      Special editions should only contain out-of-game extra stuff like artbooks, soundtracks, figures, posters or any other crap that don’t affect the game in any way but can appeal to fans. Also, DLC should be what we once knew as expansions, meaning extra storylines and questlines, new armies and campaigns, large packs of multiplayer maps. Cosmetic stuff for money only have a place in free-to-play games where they are the only way for the developers or publishers to have an income.

      Unlocks is a different category and for multiplayer games they are just a broken mechanic. Everyone should have an equal selection of weapons/gear in such an environment and I don’t mean this only applies to FPSs but all genres. The difference in gear is one of the main reasons PvP is crap in almost all MMOs, outside the fact their mechanics might be good or awful.

  3. Serge says:

    I just hope we wont need Origin running in order to play.
    Could not care less about Demos.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      Aw man. I was all excited about this until you pointed that out. So let’s list the positives and negatives:

      Positive:

      1) I like to play demos anyway. (YMMV)

      2) WAY, WAY better than requiring preorders or charging for the stuff later.

      3) WAY, WAY, WAY better than making the content a preorder exclusive and never giving people the option to get the content later somehow.

      Negative:

      1) Might require Origin.

      Grrrrrrrr.

    • IDtenT says:

      Amalur will be on steam.

    • TormDK says:

      Will it? When? – I checked Steam yesterday but didn’t see it there.

      I saw it on GameStop (Formerly Impulse) but it’s regionlocked to the US and canada (Booo!)

    • IDtenT says:

      No idea. But Neogaf confirmed it based on steam registry.

  4. jon_hill987 says:

    I really wish this would crawl away somewhere and die. Completely out of place items was half the reason I stopped playing TF2. The other half was that it became less and less competitive as they released each new weapon unlock.

  5. DogKiller says:

    I’ve decided I’m not buying Mass Effect 3 until shops are selling it for £8.99 like Dragon Age 2. Sorry, but it’s gone from pre-order collector’s edition, to wait for reviews, to wait until it’s cheap\maybe not buy it at all if I’m short of time. I know a lot of it has probably been changed, but reading the leaked script didn’t fill me with much enthusiasm and I’m absolutely sick of all these terrible marketing shams dreamed up by EA and Bioware, so I must vote with my wallet.

    • mouton says:

      Same here, really, and I did buy ME2 CE. This is a problem with the quality of script, though, marketing addons don’t affect my decision.

  6. povu says:

    I really don’t care for this crossover crap at all, but I’m happy that they’re releasing demos. There are far too few game demos these days.

    • Untruth says:

      Seconded. Crossover stuff is a little bit odd as it assumes you have an allegiance to a publisher, when some people only have an allegiance to a franchise, or single studio. But, it’s marketing, and it probably works. Probably.

      What is more important is that they’re making demos at all after some weird desert of demos that I thought might spell THE END for demos. But, hopefully this brings them back to the fore. With digital distribution being way more accessible now, demos are essential as there is rarely a right of return on digital content.

    • Edawan says:

      That’s what I thought as well. This means they’re making demos, which is good.

      But are we sure there’s going to be a PC demo ?
      (we’ve already had the “but it would help the pirates crack the game !” argument before…)

    • apocraphyn says:

      Yeah, +1 to that. Glad there are demos coming out. Looking forward to trying out Amalur. (Not bothered about Mass Effect, since the sequel bored me to no end).

      Also, the unlockable armour and weapons within Amalur don’t look ridiculous! I guess that’s another positive.

    • djim says:

      I agree, releasing demos is the big story here. The cross game items are really only that: items.

  7. MuscleHorse says:

    I just wish these unlocks appeared in appropriate places. The reason I bought the CE of Dragon’s Age was for the extra quests and content, not to have uber powerful armour from the first chapter.

    • Ringwraith says:

      Although to be fair, you had to buy most of that ME2 armour set in Dragon Age, and it wasn’t cheap.

    • Dowson says:

      It would be a lot better if it was just an optional armour skin to place over any armour.

  8. Zanchito says:

    Oh, come FUCKING on!!!

    I SO despise all this crossover / exclusive preorder DLC garbage trend. They spend time developing that stuff, time that goes into de game price, but I can’t get the goods I’m being charged for?

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      jezcentral says:

      What’s stopping you getting it? A refusal to try out a game for free?

      And how many man-years do you think it cost ME3’s development schedule to do what was basically a weapon reskin, with a stats tweak?

    • zakihashi says:

      This is like complaining about them giving out a demo, it do after all take time off making the game it self…
      This is fine, small things like this a lot of people like, and some don’t. Let’s not be selfish just because I don’t like it.
      This is a very nice way to promote one game, that could need a bit more awareness.

  9. Predalienator says:

    I misread it as “EA Demons To Unlock Items In Other Games”

    Horribly disappointed after rereading the title,oh well at least I get more free stuff

  10. diebroken says:

    What’s next, in-game merchandising? Oh, wait… *sigh*…

  11. Inarborat says:

    This might be the only move EA has made in the past however many years that I applaud. One game certainly doesn’t need a demo to sell and the other just might need a demo to spread awareness. I was pretty ambivalent about Kingdoms of Amalur but I’m really looking forward to the demo.

  12. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    So.. are there hats?

  13. Robbert says:

    But Mass Effect is good scifi!

    • MuscleHorse says:

      It’s highly derivative sci-fi mixed with an entertaining game.

      The long dead alien technology bringing about the annihilation of life has been covered (and been done better) by everyone from Frederick Pohl to Alastair Reynolds.

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      I actually thought the premise in the original game was fairly decent sci fi. (Slightly spoilerish, I guess)

      Metaplot-wise it’s just the same old, “heroes of the age must rise to fight the ancient evil that has awoken from its long slumber.”

      But the nature of the menace was interesting. Instead of just being something that’s evil for the sake of being evil (and sleepy!), it’s a species that had evolved to use technology as a lure like some sort of cosmic Pitcher Plant, except on an evolutionary time scale… encouraging prey organisms to develop along compatible lines, and then advancing itself through the assimilation of that species’ cultural achievements. That much, at least, I found interesting, and not unlike a lot of the better sci-fi I read, where the authors try to come up with truly alien species and motivations, other than just “evil”.

      Yes Alistair Reynolds had something somewhat similar, (although not the same, and less interesting in my opinion.) That’s besides the point though. That one could legitimately compare a plot point to even a half decent sci fi novel is a triumph for a video game. Video game plot concepts are usually so broad, they make your typical television episode synopsis like high literature.

      Of course, any trace of that was gone in the sequel, and it was back to just shooting zombies and bug eyes aliens in the head with minimal plot.

  14. Chris D says:

    I don’t particularly like having extra items acquired from out-of-game. RPG’s are generally about working your way up from the bottom (Even if you do happen to be in charge of a starship) and getting a powerful item you didn’t earn feels cheap. Sure, sometimes you can’t use them until you reach a certain level anyway but that just means you have a piece of junk clogging up your inventory.

    Having an item from another game doesn’t help either. It would be alright if both games shared a setting but otherwise it’s just driving a bulldozer right through that fourth wall. All in all I’m not a fan of this.

  15. Milky1985 says:

    Has anyone confirmed that the PC is actually gonig to get said demos, or are we going to be shunned like normal with this ?

    • IDtenT says:

      The press releases confirm this. There will be PC demos.

    • Phantoon says:

      An EA rep will come to your house and remove your heart. You have 24 hours to play the demo. Your computer will then be confiscated while they copy all incriminating evidence you may have on your hard drive. Then you will be arrested for being a heartless zombie cyborg, and you will work in the bit-mines, mining out code for the rest of your lifespan so their CEOs can build more nintendium-plated sexbots.

      (and if that didn’t sound completely insane and only mildly insane, it’s because EA is pretty crazy to begin with)

  16. Vexing Vision says:

    A cynic friend commented on this: “Well, they have to raise interest in Amalur SOMEHOW.”

    I fully concur.

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    The Sombrero Kid says:

    EA continuing to cover itself in the rotten skin of a formerly untouchable development studio, reminds me of introversionnotatari.

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      The Sombrero Kid says:

      “Do you think there’s room in here for crytek after we’ve squeezed ea la into it, it’s starting to tear?” “Might as well stuff them”

    • Edawan says:

      “Crysis 3, the new game from Bioware Frankfurt.”

      Kidding aside, Crytek is still independent for now.

    • RogB says:

      ” introversionnotatari”

      infogramesnotatari, surely?

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      The Sombrero Kid says:

      eugh 2 factual inaccuracies in 1 post, i thought introversion – the indie developer bought atari & kingdoms of amular was being developed by crytek the crytek game i was thinking of was ryse aka. kingdoms.

  18. IDtenT says:

    I can’t think of a better way to market Amalur. All those who disagree with these tactics are imho daft. I mean, you get free content for playing a demo you wouldn’t normally play, which means you play a game you wouldn’t have. Hell you might even buy it afterwards. The whole thing is win-win.

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      You get “free” stuff that should have been in the game you purchased, anyway. Only now you have to jump through hoops to recover a portion of the missing content intentionally held back from the game you just paid for.

      That they release a demo at all, is win. That you have to play it to get the stuff that should belong to you anyway, is lose.

    • MSJ says:

      Why would an armor styled after those found in the fantsy RPG Kingdom of Amalur even be in Mass Effect 3? This armor was clearly made for this promotion, and isn’t even an essential part of Mass Effect 3.

      Why did I unblock you?

    • Unaco says:

      It isn’t stuff that ‘should’ belong to you anyway. Get rid of the demo, and this cross promotion thing, and these items/objects would cease to exist… they’ve been made for this promotion. They are extra, bonus, additional, lagniappe.

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      Ok, your reasoning is sound, and I was mistaken about this particular item.. But the DLC and exclusive item marketing for the EA/Bioware games to date has been very abrasive, and it’s easy to see why one would instinctively tar this with the same brush. Even if it’s not the case here, there is already plenty of other retailer exclusive and deluxe content being marketed for ME3 that should have been part of the game you paid for. I have no idea if there will be week one DLC, but there has been for recent EA/Bio games.

      Even if you can rationalize that by thinking it wouldn’t have existed except for the marketing opportunity, it’s still developer resources being spent on marketing, rather than spending those equivalent resources on an equal and balanced game for everyone.

      I have no issue with physical media perks, but as far as in-game content, there should be one game for everybody.

      I am happy they are releasing a demo for Amalur. I would have checked that out without the incentive.

    • vecordae says:

      @Abundant Suede

      it’s still developer resources being spent on marketing, rather than spending those equivalent resources on an equal and balanced game for everyone.

      The man hour (singular) spent creating a new hat for a single player game is probably offset by the additional financial resources creating said hat provides to the company. This ensures additional content can be produced down the line and helps the folks employed by the company stay employed. Given that said items tended to be overshadowed by better items later on down the line, I just don’t see the problem.

      I have no issue with physical media perks, but as far as in-game content, there should be one game for everybody.

      Why should there be one identical game for everybody? I don’t mean that in a confrontational sort of way or because I feel that you are wrong. I’m just curious as to what the rationale behind that statement is. If the additional items aren’t game breaking or, really, even necessary, what is the problem with them included with a purchase from one sales outlet an not another? Unaco’s logic still applies here. Those items would not have been made had the reseller not requested them anyway.

  19. MSJ says:

    Not only is there a demo, you don’t even have to pay anything to get these unlocks (other than the game you are buying).

    It’s also a fantastic way to get people to download and play a demo of a new IP game from a new developer.

  20. Hindenburg says:

    If there ever was a comment section that made me think of that “first world problems” meme, this one would be quite the contender.

    Surprisingly nice idea from EA. Also, yaaay, demos!

    • kael13 says:

      People really will complain about anything. Free stuff and a DEMO! A demo! On PC? For a triple AAA game no less. Cor, blimey.

      I think this is a wonderful marketing idea and yet RPS forumites still whine.

      I wonder what percentage of posters here are English; we’re meant to be the ones renowned for having a good moan.

    • SquareWheel says:

      “triple AAA game”

      That’s a lot of A’s.

  21. Jeroen D Stout says:

    There will be such a thing as a free lunch included, too, I am sure.

  22. nizzie says:

    Couldn’t care less. Additional DLC style armor for singleplayer rpgs, what a waste of time/money/whatever. But yet another sign that Bioware is going down the EA-drain.

  23. Premium User Badge

    TheApologist says:

    I wouldn’t want that kind of bonus – I don’t want to play ME3 with an item in my inventory which might as well be a sign saying ‘THIS IS A VIDEOGAME, BUY OUR OTHER VIDEOGAME’. I just want to be left alone to enjoy the story.

  24. The Colonel says:

    Electronic ARSE more like.

  25. zeroskill says:

    Trying too hard to be like Valve, EA. Try harder.

  26. Kdansky says:

    None of these games qualify for “SciFi”. They are all full of Fantasy tropes, and completely lacking any typical SciFi topics such as Transhumanism.

  27. Tei says:

    So now, we pay 50€ for a game, but we don’t get it full, but to unlock the varius parts, we have to play random demos of games that we are not interested?, arggh. What a terrible idea.

    • Unaco says:

      No. You get the full game without having to do anything, play demos, or pay out extra money. If you DO play the Demos, you get something extra, something added for that sole purpose.

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      Unaco: You get the full game without having to do anything

      Well, the full game minus all the content they hold back to parcel out for retailer exclusive pre-order content, deluxe editions, and the farce that is Week One DLC. So, most of the game.

  28. thebigJ_A says:

    Aw, poo.

    I’m genuinely unsure about Amalur, so I of course want to play the demo. Hate the art style, not a huge fan of the flashy, god of war combat, and the fact that it looks like wow and Fable had a somewhat slow baby are weighted against that last trailer (mercantile skill, she said mercantile skill!) and the Morrowind pedigree.

    But now I’m going to get some goofy looking out-of-place loot that’s twice as good as anything I’ll get for the first 3/4ths of the game. I don’t want that. I’ll not want to use it on principle, but want to use it for its stats. That’s not fun, that dichotomy. I hated it in Dead Space, I don’t want to deal with it again, I say!

    • Hindenburg says:

      fuck’s sake…

      You do know that you can delete stuff in your pc, right? And that all you’d have to do is remove whatever file is responsible for unlocking stuff in the retail game? Or simply choose to skip importing the demo file, if such an option is presented?

      Seriously, poe’s law on your post.

  29. SquareWheel says:

    I hate the games industry.

  30. DigitalSignalX says:

    Curiously enough, I don’t mind this idea at all. As an avid fan of ME I might never try the demo to Amalur otherwise; getting some free swag for it is a good deal. I don’t consider optional armor to be an integral part of the game that I’m missing out on. It’s just like silly DLC armor only I’m spending my time rather then money if I want it. When it comes to games, I have more of the former then the latter.

  31. dogsolitude_uk says:

    I love demos, and the fact that Amalur has one has made me rather happy. I will try it out when it’s released, EA and the Amalur guys don’t need to bribe me with added bells and whistles.

    The ‘additional free bonus content’ pigs me off. I don’t know about you guys, but I like to feel as if I’m playing (i.e. pitting my wits against) a definitive version of a game. By that I mean the same one everyone else is playing.

    I feel somewhat (possibly irrationally!) aggrieved that others out there playing the same game as me have different/better game experiences due to purchasing from a different outlet or jumping through a funny little hoop. It makes me feel as if I’m missing out, and possibly getting something substandard for my cash.

    Bit of a moot point because I’ll play the demos anyway, but I find the whole business of locked bits and pieces in general pretty annoying.