Star Wars Squadrons Lack of DLC Could Kill Game’s Esports Potential
Star Wars Squadrons is a game with a lot of potential for esports action, but all of that could be in jeopardy thanks to EA’s scant plans for continued updates to the game after release.
The game has somewhat crashed in terms of its playerbase on Steam, launching with a healthy 35,000 on day one in active players. Now, it seems to be peaking at around 4,000 daily. While this is still plenty to fill matches with, its a far cry from what EA hopped for. It does not account for the playerbase on console, with all three platforms featuring crossplay. Still, it is disheartening to know that EA won’t be putting resources towards the game’s continued development be a game-as-service with continual ship releases.
Star Wars Squadrons Won’t Have New Ships, Planets, or Modes
At least for right now, it seems that EA is content to say that they have a finished, polished product out the door with minimal microtransactions that you can buy for the full price and not expect to be nickel and dimed.
“Never say never, so to speak, but as far as our philosophy goes we’re not trying to treat the game as a live service,” said Ian Frazier, creative director on Star Wars Squadrons, to UploadVR. “We don’t want to say, ‘It’s almost done!’ and then dribble out more of it over time, which to be honest is how most games work these days. So we’ve tried to treat it in kind of an old-school approach saying, ‘You’ve paid the $40, this is the game and it’s entirely self-contained. We’re not planning to add more content, this is the game, and we hope you understand the value proposition.”
This attitude may be the right one for Star Wars fans burnt by the pay to win mechanics in Star Wars Battlefront II, but this might be too far in the other direction. Without continual content updates, and a reason for EA to fund them without microtransactions or DLC costs, it’s likely that the game will quickly become very stale, very quickly.
This philosophy even seems to carry over to maps, and more terrestrial settings within the Star Wars universe, again afraid to step on Star Wars Battlefront II’s Starfighter mode.
“From pretty early on we wanted to be a space combat game, emphasis on space,” says Frazier. “So even though we do go into the outer atmosphere of Yavin Prime, we never go anywhere truly terrestrial because we wanted to separate the game in that flavor from something like Battlefront, which we already have. “
While the game does offer some VR support, it seems that a full port to VR consoles is also not in the cards at present, which is a shame as playing with a VR headset would seem to be the ultimate power fantasy for Star Wars fans.
A Missed Opportunity for EA to Have a Premier Esports Title
We’ve talked before about why Star Wars Squadrons could be an excellent esports title, and many of those reasons still hold true. However, the Star Wars universe is vast, and many esports titles offer regular content updates to keep things fresh. There was plenty of opportunity for EA to add things like Clone Wars ships, settings, or even ships from the new trilogy of films (or, if they were feeling particularly cross-overy, the High Republic era that’s just kicking off.)
These regular content updates, combined with the popularity of the Clone Wars animated series, could have easily mirrored the work done in Star Wars Battlefront II, with a much more competitive atmosphere.
The community is already propping up events like the Carlissian Cup, which is entirely community run and funded, and would have served as a good blueprint for what’s to come in Star Wars Squadrons esports. However, the game will only have a specific meta for its pre-existing maps without regular content updates.
While it’s true that some titles that never received content updates or DLC do go on to become great esports, these are titles that have largely been played for the last 20 years or so, like Super Smash Bros. Melee. A modern title like Star Wars Squadrons doesn’t have that advantage of a pre-existing playerbase.
Add in the fact that many reviews for the game said that it was fun, but it lacked content and modes. Some may be dissuaded from giving it a chance despite the strong pull of nostalgia that a spiritual successor to X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter would bring.
We’re begging you EA. Give resources to a team passionate about what they’re doing to either bring us regular content updates, DLC or generally keep the game alive. There’s only so long it can stay in the tank without dying off before it’s had a chance to get its legs under itself. Then again, Star Wars is known for dismemberment.