Life Is Strange Has A Weird Approach To Early Access, And Fans Aren’t Happy

Life Is Strange Has A Weird Approach To Early Access, And Fans Aren’t Happy

One of the cool surprise announcements from this year’s June Xbox Showcase was Life Is Strange: Double Exposure. The latest entry in the supernatural adventure series will return to original protagonist Max Caulfield as she solves the murder of her friend by jumping between alternate timelines. While that’s an exciting prospect for longtime fans, the game has been mired in a bit of controversy as Square Enix has rolled out details about its release plans.

Like previous games in the series, Double Exposure will be an episodic game. However, it won’t be rolling out periodically like the first few games did, and will instead follow True Colors’ format of releasing all the episodes at once. Well, with one catch. The game’s $US80 Ultimate Edition will let you play the first two chapters on October 15, two weeks before the game’s October 29 release date. Fans are criticizing this decision (thanks, Eurogamer) both because it’s incentivizing players to pay up for early access and because it will open up fans who can’t afford or don’t want to pay extra to spoilers for two weeks. The move would almost feel like an homage to the original game’s structure if it wasn’t also kinda gross.

“I feel like Square Enix locked this awesome feature behind a paywall,” upper_camel_case wrote on Reddit. “[Episodic releasing] made the original Life Is Strange such a great experience when it originally released. Now only the people who are willing to pay a lot of money for something they don’t know if it’s even good are going to be able to experience it. They are preying on the most devoted fans. Not nice.”

It’s clear Square Enix is banking on FOMO to get people to fork over the extra $US30, as even their marketing copy on Steam highlights how this lets people be part of the discussion around Max’s latest story.

“Don’t miss your chance to join the conversation around this unforgettable supernatural murder mystery,” the Steam page reads.

Double Exposure isn’t the only video game in the world that lets people pay more to play early, but two weeks is a much larger head start than these arrangements usually allow for. However, it does have the advantage of not being an online game like Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League which had server trouble during this early access period, rendering it useless after all that money spent. The trade-off is that, inevitably, someone will get spoiled on those first two episodes because they can’t justify the cost.

Image: Square Enix

On top of all this, Double Exposure is also falling into another tiresome modern video game release trend in that its $US60 “collector’s edition” doesn’t actually contain a copy of the game. There’s some neat stuff in the package, including a vinyl soundtrack and artbook, but Square Enix’s store page puts in big red letters that the actual Double Exposure game is sold separately. If you want both this big box of goodies and to see Max’s next chapter unfold, you’ll have to fork over an extra $US50 (or $US80, if you want the early access). Honestly, a $US110 collector’s edition isn’t even that expensive by modern standards, but the unnecessary obtuseness in how it’s sold is the issue. Collector’s Editions that are just boxes of swag that don’t include the game aren’t actually “editions” of the game at all.

Ultimately these are big company decisions separate from whether Double Exposure will be any good or not, but it’s not the best look for a game that’s clearly banking on fans’ love for the 2015 original. The Life is Strange series has become known for hopping between protagonists at this point and going back to Max is likely to draw back in old fans, so it’s a shame it has this weighing it down right out the gate.

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