Today I have big news. Since the beginning of the year I’ve been working on an expansion for Big Pharma and today is the day I give you all the details about what it includes, when it comes out and how much it will cost.
First up here is our glorious trailer to give you a little idea.
You can get an overview of the expansion on the official Big Pharma website, but this blog post is going to go into a lot more detail so that long-time players of Big Pharma can really get a feel for what’s included.
So what’s the expansion about?
When planning this expansion I went through lots of the feedback that the game received both in its beta and full release stages and tried to design a cohesive set of new systems that would add some of the things people felt were missing.
One of the broad suggestions that I received on a number of occasions was the ability to manually set the prices of your drugs and for a more in-depth market economy to be included. This was the starting point of my design.
I decided to add the ability to manually set prices but to make this interesting and not just a tedious process of tweaking prices until your sales match production, additional systems had to be added.
Most of the new features in Marketing and Malpractice are somehow connected to the central theme of influencing sales. It’s no longer just about producing the drugs, now you have to sell them too!
Redesigned Market Simulation
At the core of the expansion is a new system for modelling the marketplace. When drugs are exported, they don’t instantly sell, instead they enter your stockpile.
Then each day the market calculates how much of your product sells based on its price and its sales rating (more on that later). Better products (or ones that are marketed better) will sell more than worse ones.
In the last section I touched on a new rating for your products called the sales rating. This is equal to your products cure rating (from the base game) but can be influenced in several different ways. The most direct way is by using Executives.
Executives are a new type of staff. They can’t be hired, only gained via research, and they have no salary cost. They can be assigned to various tasks on specific products to increase sales.
The simplest task is to send them out as a Sales Rep to push your product onto doctors. This will give you a basic boost to the product’s Sales Rating which determines how well it sells compared to competing products.
However, your executives have much more interesting abilities: some offer bonuses to sales across multiple products so you can combine your executives’ power into big bonuses on a specific set of products (e.g. Pills or Sexual Health products). The most powerful abilities allow you to shape the marketplace itself, increasing the raw demand for cures via Disease Awareness Campaigns or lowering the sales rating of your opponents’ products via Corporate Slander.
Disqualifying certain results can make a big difference to your drug’s score but watch out, if anybody realises you’ve done it, you’re in for some bad publicity and the potential banning of your product!
So far everything I’ve mentioned has been based off of the company tab but I also wanted to include new production line design considerations in the expansion. One of the new additions here are Booster effects.
These are a new type of effect (different to cures and side-effects) which directly increase the sales rating of the product if a certain condition is activated. For example, the Hypoallergenic booster effect increases the sales rating of Creams while the Fast Acting booster increases the sales rating of cures in the Pain family.
You can get these into your drug using the good old Multimixer but there is also the specific Booster Mixer which is a new machine with a process time of 1 and a small footprint. The only limitation is that it can only add boosters to a drug and not catalysts or cures.
Production line tools
The expansion includes two new production line tools. First-up is a feature that has been requested countless times by players of Big Pharma – the ability to transfer drugs between buildings. You will now be able to export any work-in-progress drug out of one socket and directly into another.
This will make even larger, more complicated lines possible and interesting new design paradigms may emerge in terms of how you structure your production lines. E.g. you may want all your Makers (Pill Maker, Creamer etc.) in one building and then use sockets to connect them to your production lines. This way you can switch production over between different lines in response to demand.
The other addition is the Stock Gate. This allows you to regulate the flow of drugs down a belt based on the current stock of a particular product.
With the new manual pricing system, just trying to match your production with the current demand for a product can be challenge in itself. The stockgate allows you to automate certain processes to help with this.
For example, you could have a production line which creates level 3 cures, but if the current stockpile of the product reaches 20 (e.g. it’s not selling quick enough to match production) then a stock gate could allow you to automatically switch the flow of drugs into an alternate line which leaves the cure at level 2. This allows you to maximise your production capacity without lowering the price of your level 3 product.
Finally, Marketing and Malpractice will include unlockable perks. These are fixed bonuses that you pick before each game which will define your strategy to a large degree.
For example, the “Trust me I’m a Doctor” perk gives you a 10% sales bonus for any products with no active side-effects. You’re hardly going to want to produce drugs ridden with side-effects while using this perk as it would nullify its bonus.
On the other side of the spectrum you have the “Briber” perk which allows you to disqualify clinical trial results without incurring bad publicity – however it costs you money for every result you disqualify.
Perks are unlocked by achieving certain tasks via gameplay. You’ll unlock them naturally via play but you can also make a concerted effort to play in a certain way to speed up the process of unlocking a particular perk.
So that’s it for the content. Here are the key facts:
Release date: 26th April 2016
Price: $5.99 / £4.79/ €5.99
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
Languages supported: English, French, German, Spanish
The Steam store page is already up so if you’re interested in picking up the expansion, why not add it to your wishlist today:
I’ll be doing weekly video blogs between now and release where I’ll be demonstrating all the new additions first hand. The first will be out on Tuesday 5th April.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post below.