Mass Confusion

Because 2013 was a such a shit year for videogames, I decided to go back in time and revisit the Mass Effect trilogy in its entirety.

I’ll be going into depth about revisiting the titles as an older adult in a future blog, but suffice to say I’m loving it thus far. The Mass Effect universe is one of the most cogent, cohesive and consistent universes in all of gaming, with each tiny decision you make affecting something later on down the line.

Such a sexy game.
Such a sexy, sexy game.

When I first played the games, I played only the vanilla content and little else. I completed Overlord and started Kasumi – Stolen Memory, but that was it. Wanting the full story experience this time, I decided to download all the major expansion content this playthrough around. Most of it is stellar stuff and expertly done, making them game-enhancing experiences that were joys to play.

What wasn’t such a joy was the process of actually downloading them.

Bring Down the Sky, the first ever DLC pack which sees Shephard desperately trying to stop an out-of-control asteroid rigged by extremists from hitting a human colony, was pish easy to acquire. The content has been free for years now, so all I had to do was Google it, download and install the .exe and then fire away. Grunt’s your uncle.

And Shephard's yer da'.
And Shephard’s yer da’.

The sequel’s DLC was an entirely different story, however. The content was available to download from BioWare’s website, so I charged in, card in hand, ready to throw money at the screen so I could experience the lovely expanded Mass Effect universe.

That’s when I was cock-blocked by the fake currency that is BioWare Points.

BioWare Points – or BP – is the online currency used by the developer on their website that allows you to purchase content for their titles. Much like Microsoft Points and all that other fictitious guff, they can only be bought in certain amounts: in this case batches of 400, 560, 800, 1200 and 1600 Points.  As such, you’d reckon it would be easy to just load up on the amount you need to download what you want and then crack on with things.

But no, BioWare and EA saw the need to make things needlessly complicated by incorporating hidden discounts in their prices. The prices for the individual amounts are as such:

1600 points – £13

800 points – £6

560 points – £4

400 points – £3

When broken down into individual Point values, this equates to:

1600 point pack = 123.1 points to the pound (rounded up).

800 point pack = 133.3 points to the pound (rounded down).

560 point pack = 140 points to the pound.

400 point pack = 133.3 points to the pound (rounded down). *

I’m as puzzled as you are, Rana.

What this shows is that rather than easily buying the amount of points you need, it’s actually cheaper to download separate smaller packs to reach the amount you need. Say for example you need 1600 Points. What would you rather do: Spend £13 on a batch of 1600 or £12 on two batches of 800? It’s a no-brainer. Sure, the amount saved may be miniscule, but when you stretch it out over DLC spanning all three games, the savings can become quite substantial.

I’m planning on purchasing Mass Effect 3 on Origin with all the DLC  and so did all the relevant sums and calculations to find out what would be the best deal, coming to the conclusion that buying the smaller Point packs would work out cheaper. I went ahead to do so, only to discover that rather than buying bundles in bulk, you can only purchase one pack per transaction. Rather than buying 5 x 800 BP once, I’m having to purchase the same item separately five times. It just doesn’t make any sense.

What also doesn’t make any sense is that none of ME’s DLC content is visible on the Origin Store page, meaning I had to consult its Wiki to get UK prices and BioWare Point conversions and calculate the costs myself. It’s utterly astounding that fans like me who are willing to pay money to delve deeper into their favourite franchise have to jump through so many hoops in order to get the content we want at the best price. It’s as if EA are testing fans’ loyalty to the brand to weed out which players are eligible to play the content in the first place.

Purchasing DLC should be easier than this.
Surely purchasing DLC should be easier than this.

My plan was to blast through the trilogy and experience it as a whole, but this whole rigmarole has put me off attempting to navigate the Origin site once again and so I’m taking a break by revisiting Fallout 3, another universe that I love. Don’t get me wrong, I’m going to download and play Mass Effect 3 at some point, I just can’t be arsed doing all that when I can just fire up a game I already have on my system. It’s a shame that the unscrupulous and needlessly complicated dealings of companies in the real world can so negatively affect your enjoyment of the digital one.

Here’s to the eradication of fake digital currencies. Long live the Galactic Credit.




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One response to “Mass Confusion”

  1. James Plant avatar

    The Mass Effect Trilogy is such an amazing series. Shame to hear it’s ruined your attempt to relive the experience. Odd tactics there as well to try and get a few extra pounds out of those willing to make a bigger investment. While I do have the trilogy on Origin (Currently playing through the first game) I’ll think I’m just going to have to flat out avoid any of the DLC this time round, sounds like a real nightmare. I just want to enjoy my game!

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