According to my Gmail account, on September 5 I gave Electronic Arts permission to charge my credit card $141.52 for the "Ultimate Edition" of Battlefield 1, a video game that normally costs half as much. Why?
Was I attempting to fill some void in my workaday life, a void that could have only been filled by playing pretend Great War soldier? Maybe! But I didn't need to give EA nearly $150 to do so.
Did I desperately need to play the game on October 18, three days before people who bought the standard edition get to play? (Noobs!) That was a small part of my calculus, yes, but given that most of my gaming time occurs on the weekend, it doesn't quite explain why I launched a $150 mortar round into my bank account. (I do, however, have a hot date planned for Friday night with my PC, some Red Bull, and a new Mexican place that recently opened in my neighborhood.)
Or maybe it was the promise of the future? Laying out for the "Ultimate Edition" gives day one access to all of the game's upcoming DLC packs, ensuring that I'm able to play on new multiplayer maps the minute they're released—and, crucially, when server populations are still healthy. "I've never gone the premium route of buying any [Battlefield] or any other game," said Motherboard UK staff writer Ben Sullivan, "but I always regret it when dat DLC comes out." Sullivan added that he "just wish" he'd paid for all the DLC upfront to maximize his enjoyment of Battlefield 4, which was released in October 2013.
And while timely DLC access is as good a reason as any, I think if I'm honest with myself the answer is pretty simple: I am a dork.
When DICE, the game's developers, debuted the first Battlefield 1 trailer last May, my jaw just about hit the floor. "Holy smokes it's happening," I thought to myself. "Someone's actually doing it."
Doing it, of course, refers to creating a game set during World War I, a critically important period of time that's hardly mentioned in popular culture. While it's not a one-to-one historical simulation, Battlefield 1 takes the series' solid mechanics—I don't know how many hours I've sunk into the series since 2010's Bad Company 2—and applies them to this completely ignored setting. Popping small arms fire at a German zeppelin flying over the charred remains of the French countryside is, to me, a lot more interesting than fighting vague "ultra nationalists" in the present day and pulls my should-have-been-a-history-major heart strings in a way that abstract, zero-gravity fighting in space never can.
And yes: I know you're not "supposed" to pre-order games these days, given that publishers are evil faceless corporations that like nothing more than to over-promise and under-deliver, but as far as I'm concerned, shelling out nearly $150 for the "Ultimate Edition" of Battlefield 1 is no different than tipping your favorite Twitch streamer or contributing to your favorite podcaster's Patreon: It's a way to say thanks for finally making something happen that I've spent an inordinate amount of time waiting to happen.
It's a nice feeling.