Star Wars: Squadrons is cheap – almost suspiciously cheap for a game based on one of the hottest Hollywood franchises of all time. But EA's long-requested starfighter focussed sim is surprisingly affordable, launching on October 2 at just $39.99 / £34.99. And now we know why.
During its quarterly financial call, EA executives revealed that, while Star Wars: Squadrons will have the immersive depth that fans of the genre have called out for for years, it won't have the scale or breadth of other titles the company put out.
"Games all have different scales, and most of our games right now have huge scale. We designed this game to really focus on what we heard from consumers, which is one of their greatest fantasies, and that's to be able to fly an X-Wing fighter or TIE Fighter, and be in a dogfight," said Blake Jorgensen, EA's CFO.
"And so it doesn't have the breadth of some of our games, but it's still an incredible game. And so that's why we chose to price it at a slightly lower level—and to also allow access to as many people as possible who had that Star Wars fantasy."
Jorgensen also stressed that, though we may associate Star Wars as being among EA's key premium licences, the company regularly experiments with pricing, based on the nature of the core game itself.
"I think you've seen us over the years differentiate pricing on lots of games. We've differentiated pricing on things like Plants vs Zombies games, because we knew that they skewed to younger audiences, for example, or maybe didn't have the depth of all of the game modes that you might see in a FIFA or Madden."
A galaxy of goodwill
EA's handling of the Star Wars franchise has been under great scrutiny, with the company only putting out a handful of games, cancelling others, and (initially at least) leaning too heavily on microtransactions in the likes of Star Wars Battlefront 2.
But there's a hint that EA has taken the criticism onboard and is looking to foster some goodwill with Squadrons – for starters, it won't feature any microtransactions at all, despite the games numerous player customization options.
CEO Andrew Wilson discussed how the company had titles "across the spectrum of pricing," ranging from free-to-play MMOs like The Old Republic to AAA deluxe editions of Jedi: Fallen Order. The "motivations and expectations" of players determine the direction a game takes, and given the criticism EA has faced, perhaps this is the start of a shift for that galaxy far, far away.
Regardless of price, Star Wars: Squadrons is looking very promising, returning to the franchise's focused-dogfighting roots, complete with a full VR mode, and scratching the itch of flight-sim fans across the universe.