How Anthem's 'dynamic' store and microtransactions work

Anthem, Electronic Arts' shared-world role-playing game (RPG) has arrived. The all-new franchise is already shaping up as a robust class-based experience, driven by tight gunplay and the hunt for coveted loot. And with free updates going forward, it aims to leverage optional monetization to support the title.

Here's a breakdown of Anthem's microtransactions and how they work.

Related: Anthem's team talks ambitions, and future plans

Anthem's microtransactions are only cosmetic

After the Star Wars Battlefront II loot box fiasco, infamously compromising game balance via monetization, Electronic Arts has hit the brakes in 2019. Anthem's micropayments shift to exclusively cosmetic items, switching up the style of your Javelin exo-suits.

Anthem features two currencies at launch, "Coins" earned in-game as you progress, and premium "Shards" obtained with real-world money. All cosmetic items can be purchased with Coins or Shards, avoiding cosmetics gated behind a cash barrier, and without randomized loot boxes, what you buy is what you get.

Anthem's cosmetics span various categories, from armor variants, vinyl skins, and textures for your armor. Emotes also feature, bound to three directional pad buttons. And when customizing your loadouts and cosmetics through "The Forge" hub, a small pool of cosmetics can be directly purchased through the "Buy" tab. However, color customization is all free via a color picker.

Anthem's Featured tab cycles through a pool of limited-time cosmetics.

Anthem's Featured tab cycles through a pool of limited-time cosmetics.

A prominent component of the microtransaction approach EA is taking is the "Featured" menu, a dedicated marketplace with a rotating library of cosmetic items.

Anthem doesn't feature a traditional expansive storefront packed with hundreds of items to browse. This Featured tab instead serves as its flagship store page, displaying just six cosmetic items available for Coins or Shards. Although subject to change, this dynamic inventory currently refreshes every six hours, as presented in the top left-hand corner of the screen.

Speaking to Windows Central, Ben Irving, Anthem lead producer, further expanded on what the Featured tab entails, over a traditional marketplace.

So the Featured page is meant to be like in a retail store sale, or whatever. It's there for a limited time, and then it will rotate. So like, "Hey, if you want this thing, there's a time limit, and then it's gone." And it may come back again – it may be tomorrow, it may be next week, it may be in six months. But we'll rotate the things we have available to keep it fresh for players.

This approach allows BioWare to serve new content regularly, every time you boot up Anthem. Players will always have new options to browse and recent additions can be easily presented upon release. However, it's also clear how this fosters a sense of urgency when you buy, pushing impulse purchases.

This Featured section can also feel a little invasive, displayed as the first tab upon opening the pause menu. It means you'll need to skip past to store to access the game's world map, social, and settings tabs. But, with a snappy user interface, its presence shouldn't be a deal-breaker.

The road to Anthem

What are your thoughts on Anthem's store and monetization? Do you think the featured tab is invasive or are you happy to splash some cash to keep the game alive? Let us know your opinion on the approach in the comments section.

Matt Brown is Windows Central's Senior Editor, Xbox & PC, at Future. Following over seven years of professional consumer technology and gaming coverage, he’s focused on the world of Microsoft's gaming efforts. You can follow him on Twitter @mattjbrown.

  • Full price game with Microtransactions.
    Paid demos.
    Pay to play the game early and get an advantage over others who don't pay.
    Limited time content that appears and reappear at random periods. Marketing tactics to pressure gamers into buying stuff.
    System that is design to constantly tempt gamers to spend money... Oh well...
  • It's called business, as long as the microtransactions are only cosmetic, who cares?
  • 1) It's called business and I'm called a consumer/gamer. A gamer who is giving my opinion. I can tell them to **** off if I want or when I feel a company is trying to milk consumers.
    2) It's a full price game. For me there is no place for free2play economic like microtransactions in a full game. Here they are telling you to pay money for content of a game that you already bought.
    3) Who cares? Well, if I paid full price for a game I don't want to constantly be tempted into buying more stuff. I don't want grind to be able to get stuff without constantly being told that I could get it by paying for it.
    4) My question to you is not whether you mind it or not. It's whether YOU WANT it.
    5) This is suppose to be a multiplayer game where you play in a community. ofc appearance is part of the experience.
    6) This is not a necessary. They are only doing this to milk the consumers. We've seen loads of full price games that don't use microtransactions. We have seen loads of successful free2play games... 7) Anyway I'll end with this video. It explains a lot of things. Hope it'll help you: Finally, I see you just created your account to defend EA and microtransactions? Do you care that much for EA or microtransactions?
  • Eh, just don't buy it then.
  • Agree with Sin, just don't buy it then. Also agree with Darkness690, plus, you don't need that "I'm entitled to express my opinion" line every time when someone disagrees with you. It's stupid and meaningless. It's your problem if you cannot resist, get jealous or lack of control. Game with MT implementation doesn't automatically make it a pay2win, affecting game balance. Every MT is different. Simple logic.
  • You're entitled to your opinion just like we are entitled to tell you that your opinion is stupid.
  • Well the idea is that the microtransactions is paying for the continuing story/events that would normally be paid DLC. Getting rid of microtransactions would mean one game with no extension beyond the conclusion of the story. I'd rather not break up the player base and have microtranactions rather than Anthem DLCs and sequels being locked behind paywalls. Either way we have to pay something and I rather this like Warframe than COD's yearly output. This is why alot of ppl soured on Destiny cause they had microtransactions but still milked the releases. It was poorly planned imo and I'll equally critique Anthem if they try the same mess.
  • Ah and as expected we would see someone coming up with the inflation or the "games are 60$" argument. Let's get few things out of the way here.
    1) There are WAY more gamers into video games then back in 90s.
    2) There are games like witcher 3, Horizon ZD, Splatoon... that don't NEED to have microtransactions, so let's not say EA must do it. Another proof of that is when EA told that removing microtransactions will not have a huge impact on earnings.
    3) There are games like Fortnite that are free2play. And finally you want to talk facts and numbers? Here is a video that considers marketing, development, cost of goods sold and record profits of EA, activision and Ubisoft all adjusted for inflation. We can clearly see that the overall trend is that the cost has actually dropped and there has been record profits. The funny part is that it's not the tiny studios that are doing it. It's the massive companies doing it. If others can make criticially amazing games (Breath of the wild, Horizon ZD, The witcher, Hellblade...) without the need of including microtransactions/lootbox why can't these companies do it? I think game as a service is horrible. Horrible for us gamers and gaming in general. For me, any full price game that are being called a service should be boycotted no matter who is making it and no matter what game it is. 60 bucks is just an entry price for what is suppose to be a free2play game. A game where you are constantly being tempted to pay more money.
    If people think that these companies will remove all these bs after rising the price to say 80-100 bucks, then I would say they are very naive. Not in this industry. Not with these companies.
    They are making record profits and people say "they need to do it". Let's face it, we are not their real customers, their investors are their real customers and priority... I hope this this you'll understand things better. And before I leave, I'll just post another video to help in your education: Bye
  • Everything can be earning in game without paying a cent (outside of the initial purchase of the game) so this is a non issue for you, who are you to tell someone else what to do with their money if they want to buy an outfit instead of grind for it?
  • Well, this is an issue because it's not a free2play game. I don't know why so-called gamers defend microtransactions? Do you want these microtransactions yes or no? I hope you do know that as long as there is option to pay gameplay, the amount of progression and the amount of grinding are all probably adjusted to frustrate people into paying more money. That's how these free2play economics works.
    So it does affect EVERY gamer. Those who won't spend money will just have to grind more. Gone was the time when major companies just made a game so that the gamer enjoys it. The time where players just bought a game and enjoyed all it's content.
    Now it's all about spending more money once you already paid full price for the initial version. What is sad is that many times we see so-called gamers defending this bs...
  • No one is going to watch your video. You're crying about a game you're not going to play. Why are you wasting your time? Cosmetic purchases are fine. Just because you and other people either don't have self control or get jealous of other people having items you don't have doesn't mean everyone else has that problem. I'll be getting the game and won't pay a cent on microtransactions. I'll pay for the game once and enjoy all its content, it's not that hard to do. If you feel the need to spend additional money, that's your problem.
  • Cosmetic changes in games used to be free, you know?
  • How is a developer supposed to pay for all the work and infrastructure that is required to continually push out new content and ongoing multi-player support if they don't have some kind of continual revenue streams?
  • How did they do it between 1977 - 2010 ?
  • They didn't. They made sequels and made you pay full price for it or made an expansion and charged slightly less than full price.
  • Like willrich354 said, they didn't.
    > made an expansion and charged slightly less than full price.
    But many time, you still need to buy the main game to use that expansion tho XD
  • The gameplay will have to be well worth it with the store being the first tab. Perhaps the menu is "snappy" enough to swap over to the next tab before the store fully loads
  • Well color me impressed. No loot boxes. ALL cosmetic items can be earned in game. Only cosmetic items are purchasable in a real world money store. Finally EA get this right. Bravo. Bravo. Now I'm expecting big things from this game.
  • Turns out you can't actually earn everything ingame. You can earn a subset of your liking ingame, but you are not able to afford all cosmetic items in the game with just ingame currency. You don't get nearly enough for that.
  • Please stop supporting EA and their underhanded anti-consumer practices.