Can Dragon Age Legends Hook Core Gamers With Console Tie-Ins?

BioWare and Electronic Arts have launched Dragon Age II today for core consoles and PC. To go along with the release of the epic role-playing game, purchasers of the title can gain access to the closed beta version of Dragon Age Legends, on Facebook, from EA2D. Once in, users that play far enough into the game will be able to unlock items accessible through the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, or PC versions.

While we’ll have a full review of the game coming later, this is one of the key points of interest to the game as it has been dubbed a “Facebook game for people who hate Facebook games.”

Using their EA account information, users that log into Dragon Age Legends will have their accomplishments on Facebook linked to that of Dragon Age II. As they progress through the Facebook app, they will unlock up to five (at least only five are displayed initially) powerful items, that look to be equipable rings, charms, and other such items, for use in the core counterpart, as pictured below. Moreover, each item is unlocked by completing specific quests deeper within Legends. A tooltip noting the quest requirements is available for all but the last item: Dura’s Blue Flame.

It’s an interesting incentive, but not one that hasn’t been done before. Fall of last year, Ubisoft did a number of tie-ins for some of its major franchises, such as Assassin’s Creed with Project Legacy, but the level of implementation was limited. Moreover, this title, and others, have often been more of a marketing catalyst for the primary console game. At best, they weren’t very social (like Project Legacy, which in turn, led to low user numbers), and others were simply laughable.

However, the key difference now is that Legends is both highly social, and a decent game in its own right. The idea, it seems, is to utilize the implementation of unlockable items in the main game to attract core gamers to the Facebook app, and use the app’s quality of it to hook them.

It’s a good idea, but still a tall order. Many core gamers, especially players of BioWare games, are extrodinarily enthralled by deep role-playing game play and epic storylines. Even as a good social game, these appetites may not be sated within Legends.

This raises the concern as to whether or not this hook will be measurably effective. With BioWare games being highly replayable, quality items that can be reused time and time again is a huge plus, but how they compare to other items in the console game will be the big question. Moreover, once a Facebook player has unlocked these, will they continue to play? As noted, Legends is a much bigger effort that previous core franchisetie-ins, and hosts a convenient HTML5 mobile companion for minor game play elements, so this is also very possible.

Despite the questions hovering about, Dragon Age Legends, in its closed beta state, still earns over 106,000 monthly active users and has continually grown over the past month. Now, with purchasers of Dragon Age II able to access it, that will likely grow further. As it seems, the plan is to attract core gamers with the promise of quality items, and hook them with quality social game play. In theory, this has potential, but only time will say for sure.