Matthew Roszak

In The Press Blog

BioWare gives away triple-A title Mass Effect 2 for free with Dragon Age 2

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Selling 1 million copies of a triple-A title in two weeks just isn’t enough for some game companies — like BioWare, which will offer a copy of its previous 2010 game-of-the-year winner Mass Effect 2 for free with every Dragon Age 2 sale.

It’s the kind of stunt that most independent game developers can’t quite pull off — forcing them to rely on non-traditional ways to generate support for their games, like teaming up with other developers to release gaming “bundles” that bet on the good will of the gaming community. But BioWare is owned by big game maker Electronic Arts and so has more options on the table. Even massive game companies like Electronic Arts have to use incentives like this to bring in new gamers and appeal to new audiences rather than the traditional hardcore crowd it has already captured.

That’s quite a perk for new game buyers, seeing as the game was adored by critics and received a 96 out of 100 across 98 reviews on review aggregating site Metacritic. Mass Effect 2 sold more than 2 million copies in its first week of release as well. BioWare is basically offering two triple-A titles for the price of one for PC gamers everywhere in an attempt to drum up additional support for the game that still stands in Mass Effect 2’s shadow. Dragon Age 2 received a score of 79 out of 100 across 71 reviews on Metacritic.

For Electronic Arts, this is a good way to get copies of Mass Effect 2 into the hands of new gamers ahead of BioWare’s epic conclusion to the space opera trilogy, which is due out later this year. Electronic Arts is also cross-pollinating its games by offering exclusive Dragon Age content to Mass Effect 2 owners in order to increase publicity for its other games. Many other game publishers are doing the same thing in order to create interest in newer titles, since the triple-A space is getting quite crowded.

Mass Effect and Dragon Age are both critical franchises for Electronic Arts, which needs to keep churning out the hits in order to keep pace with rival Activision Blizzard. EA and Activision Blizzard constantly battle for the leadership of the hardcore game industry — with Electronic Arts relying on franchises like Mass Effect 2 and Activision Blizzard dominating the first-person-shooter space with its Call of Duty franchise. A studio such as BioWare is a prized asset because most of its games end up as hits.

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