Electronic Arts has issued a statement which it hopes will allay fears that unique weaponry available only to those who pre-order a special edition of its upcoming shooter Battlefield 3 will unbalance the game.
When EA announced that it had teamed up with UK retailer Game to offer the 'Physical Warfare Pack' special edition with unique content for those choosing to pre-order at Game or Gamestation shops, fans of the series worried that it would lead to unbalanced gameplay in favour of those who opted for the special edition.
The unique add-ons - the Type 88 Light Machine Gun, a flash suppressor for the SKS sniper rifle, and day-one access to the unlockable DAO-12 shotgun with unique armour-piercing flechette ammunition - were designed to be an incentive for buyers to get the game new from Game rather than waiting to pick the title up for cheap on the second-hand market, but the exercise backfired spectacularly.
Fans of the games accused EA of attempting to cash in on the popularity of the series, with comments on the company's website describing the move as "pathetic," "just plain wrong," and "a practice in frustration." A campaign on reddit even asked fans to boycott the game altogether, until EA could be convinced to make the weaponry available to all.
While the company isn't going that far, it has issued a statement which claims that gamers' fears of an unbalanced experience in multiplayer are unfounded. "The three exclusive items in the Physical Warfare Pack were specifically chosen not to be overpowered or imbalance or break the game in any way," the company's statement reads.
The company claims that it offers the pre-order bonus items "because we believe in rewarding our core fanbase with special offers," and has detailed an extra bonus for pre-orders of both the standard and special editions: an expansion pack titled Back to Karkand.
While the Back to Karkand expansion will be available to all - avoiding any further complaints of unfair treatment - those who pre-order Battlefield 3 from any retailer will get the add-on free of charge, while latecomers will be expected to pay.
So far, it's not clear whether EA's claims of a fully balanced experience will be enough to win fans of the series back on side for its October launch.