What Can Anthem Learn From Other Online Games?


– You know, presumably
I don’t have to spend
another 60 bucks every year
to get the latest thing,
although you still see that.
– Presumably.
– Yeah, we still see that happen.
(electronic music)
Alright, thank you for joining us
in our beautiful new public access studio.
– Paul, thank you so much for having me.
– Of course man, it’s my pleasure.
– It’s been a long time coming.
– Yeah, seriously.
– My return.
– But the reason I have
you on the show today
for this week is cause last week
we got a chance to check
out the Anthem demo
and this weekend, I guess,
it’s also coming out.
– [Ethan] It’s coming back.
– For everybody else I guess.
– [Ethan] Yeah.
Last weekend was the VIP demo.
– [Paul] Right.
– For those of us who are worthy.
(laughs)
And this weekend will be the open demo
and then there’ll be
another completely confusing
release slate for the rest of the game.
– [Paul] I think it gets more confusing.
– [Ethan] Especially for
EA, EA just loves to,
they don’t want you to know
when the game’s coming out
or when you can access it, so.
– No. What did you think
of the demo initially?
The game itself, at
least as it is right now?
– So aside from problems with playing it,
you know, if you want to use
the killer app terminology,
like it has a killer app and that is
the second you press the thumb stick down
and go into flight mode,
that just feels so good.
– [Paul] Yeah.
– [Ethan] It reminds me a
lot of Destiny’s headshots,
and a lot of how it feels to
web-swing around in Spider-Man,
so it has that thing that makes you
want to just do it over and over again,
which is key for a game like this,
and so I think building out from there,
the designs of the Javelins are cool,
the sound effects and the visuals
with fights and blowing stuff
up are really excellent,
and that it looks like there’s a lot
of customization options
for you to really kinda
express yourself and build the kind of
Iron Man suit you want.
So, I think those tools,
everything people saw
in the trailers, they all
hold promise and look legit.
– But like you mentioned,
I’ve been playing on PC
and every time I hit that
Shift Key and I go into
that, like, you know
– [Ethan] PC, Shift Keys, what, sorry.
– Shift Key, oh yeah, sorry.
– I’m sure that feels great,
does your keyboard vibrate?
– No.
– What’s the point then, you’re
missing half the experience.
– It doesn’t.
Yeah but it’s a rock-solid
60 frames per second.
– Is it really? Some people
were having problems with PC.
– Nah, I was, I mean,
– That’s one of the remaining issues.
– That was the other thing I
was about to get to is that,
I did have some trouble
getting stuck on load screens,
I know they kind of were
trying to adress that,
and like, I would load into a level and
the world itself wasn’t built yet,
and I would get stuck in
this weird in-between space,
but the moment-to-moment
stuff felt great, like,
not a lot of like,
challenging vertical stuff,
surprisingly enough,
considering you’re like,
a giant war machine
that can fly in the air.
– [Ethan] Right.
– [Paul] At least, stuff
we haven’t seen yet.
I’m trying to give the game
the benefit of the doubt,
it’s still sort of in development but
– And for many months
and potentially years
to come, because it is a service game.
– [Paul] Right, exactly,
that’s why we’re here, right?
So it’s like what experience
do you have with service games,
and what are some of your favorites
that you’ve played along the years?
– So it’s funny, growing up
I didn’t really have a PC
that could play games well,
especially not online games.
I mean, my family probably
had dial-up forever,
and so I remember for the
longest time I always wanted to
play Final Fantasy XI, cause I
was a huge Final Fantasy fan,
didn’t know anything
about MMOs but the idea
of being able to play
a Final Fantasy online
where you create your own character
and go out into the world
and kinda do your own thing,
I was like “that’s so exciting”.
Never happened because I never had that.
So it was actually not
until I think Xbox 360
where I really started
to play games online.
Outside of the Halo games
probably Borderlands 2
was the first one where
I spent a lot of time
actually playing with other people.
That era of game, multiplayer
was much more of an add-on,
it was a thing that you put into your game
because you didn’t want
people to go trade it back in,
and also a lot of people were
trying to chase Call of Duty,
and so everyone was like,
“well if we just have
an online mode where people go
and shoot each other nonstop,
then our game is gonna do gangbusters”.
And of course that wasn’t the case,
but I would say Modern Warfare 2 was one
of the first games where, and that wasn’t
the kind of game that was
getting tons of DLC or updates,
– [Paul] Right.
– [Ethan] But that was one
where I was playing it,
you know, every week, and I
think that in the PC space
it was really DOTA 2
that sort of got me into
the hype cycle of not just
playing a game all the time,
cause you know, back in
the day, people played
Halo 2 online a ton, people
played Goldeneye with each other
locally, but DOTA 2 was
the first time where it was
a game that would get
constant updates, patches,
new cosmetics, things that would keep you
wanting to come back to the game,
even though you’d been there
for thousands of hours.
– Yeah, for me I think the first
thing that comes to mind is
the same thing like Call
of Duty or even like
the Battlefield series,
I was like “oh, cool,
it’s the same game but I
get a couple extra guns,
and like, a new map”
like, that’s really cool,
it extends the lifetime
of this one game where
presumably I don’t have to spend
another 60 bucks every year
to get the latest thing,
although you still see that.
– Presumably.
– Yeah, we still see that
happen, but like Fortnite
was the first time I think I
can recall where I was like
“Oh, let me sign up for the
Battle Pass” or whatever,
cause it gave you an
incentive to continue playing
the same damn game over and over again
and giving you these like little
extra rewards or whatever,
but now I mean, I’ve played
Destiny, Destiny 2, Division,
but none of the service
games for me in particular,
and this is just like a
personal case, this is not like
a statement about
service games in general,
but for me being someone
who plays it occasionally,
and not being able to
keep up with your friends
who are playing it all the time,
I mean granted it’s
kind of what we do too,
we have to play a lot of
games at the same time, but
not being able to keep up with them,
– [Ethan] And that’s been
Destiny’s big problem, is
– Right.
– Balancing a game for the long term
so that the people who
are playing every week
or almost every day, feel like
there’s a reason to do so,
and like they’re being rewarded for that,
versus the people who
you want to bring back
every couple months, when
there’s a new piece of DLC,
or a major new update.
And it’s really, you know,
I kind of think of it,
there’s like three sort of
ways to approach service games,
there’s one like the
Overwatch model which,
Overwatch has a progression
system, but it’s mainly just
the core match, is just
fun to do over and over,
it’s like playing Smash
Brothers, it’s like playing
Rocket League or Mario
Kart, and it’s just that
it’s like the reason you could go
be in love with soccer, and just continue
to play soccer every week.
Then there’s sort of
the progression system,
which is what I think
Fortnite really nailed
with the Battle Pass, and why
other games have adopted that,
is even where you have a game
where you’re trying to keep
everyone on an even playing field,
adding in new cosmetics,
new perks or things
that make it so people feel
like they’re earning stuff,
and that they’re making
progress, things are changing,
and so you want to go
back and sort of chip away
at whatever you’re working on.
And then the third one is
sort of like story stuff,
so like MMOs coming out
with new expansions that
are primarily like, you want to see
what happens in this world.
And I think, in large
part, Destiny has sort of
revolved around both the progression
but also sort of wanting
to see a new piece
of this universe with
each new piece of DLC.
And that’s why when looking at Anthem
it’s interesting to see
which one of those three
core pillars is it going
to really latch onto.
– [Paul] Right.
– [Ethan] And then which
ones will be incorporated
but sort of just because
that’s what you do.
Like will it have a sort of Battle Pass,
or will its DLC be
primarily story focused,
or is it just really going
to be about getting new skins
and new cool stuff for your Javelin.
It’ll be interesting to see whether or not
it really is going to be story driven
and so you’re really sharing
these great story moments
with your friends and
that’s the fun part of it
or if it’s really going to be more about
a sort of Fortnite approach
where the story is in the world
slowly changing over time
as there are new events
and these sort of more
granular incremental approaches
and that the core of
the game will really be
you and your friends flying
around a swarm of enemies
and then doing combos and then being like
“Oh that was a great
fight, and look at all this
cool stuff we got.”
And then I feel like those
are the two main paths
the game could go and I think
one will be slightly more
disappointing to people, if it
doesn’t have the story stuff,
but I think if it is story
based I think that’ll just be,
as Destiny and other games
have proven, much harder
to sustain over the long term.
– Yeah, I think it has to,
eventually, like it sort of
plateaus eventually and then, who knows.
– Right, like none of this stuff feels
sustainable to me, at least.
– Sure, sure.
– I remember there was a time
when I was playing Destiny,
DOTA, Street Fighter V, and
Hearthstone, almost every night.
Cause each one had like
little things I could get done
to make a little bit of progress.
And it was like, fun,
cause on the one hand I was
playing these fun games
and I felt like I was doing
a ton of stuff but it was
just like, at a certain point
– I feel like I’m pulling a lab rat.
– you’re just caught in, right,
you feel like you’re caught
on a treadmill and it’s like,
what’s the point of all this?
And so I think especially
with Anthem it’s like,
are you going to be able
to offer something so that
you can pull people
away on a routine basis
but not necessarily try
to go head-to-head with
The Division, Destiny,
Fortnite, Smash Bros.,
all these other games that are demanding
of so many people’s time.
– Yeah.
– Like, can I get in and get out and
will it have been worth it?
– Yeah, yeah.
I guess we’ll see.

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