Disclosure: ISKMogul requested and received a review code for Marketing & Malpractice DLC prior to this review.
Big Pharma is a game for the Martin Shkreli in all of us. If you’ve ever wanted to be at the head of a pharmaceutical company, and deal with all the logistical and problem-solving headaches that entails, then boy have Twice Circled got you covered. ISKMogul covered the base game when it was first released, suffice to say, I loved it.
But today, the next step for would-be pharma tycoons is here, with the newly released Marketing & Malpractice DLC. A DLC that tackles many of the more contentious elements of the pharmaceutical industry. As one could guess from the name, the idea here is to use the money and influence gained from your manufacturing efforts to further improve your market share and the products themselves. This is accomplished through “rather ingenious” application of clinical trials, new production techniques and better market simulation control.
One of the bigger changes that’s immediately apparent is the inclusion of marketing itself. In the base game, a company could create a highly effective drug, and the product would sell well. Now, if you don’t market your new drug, it will have a lot harder time selling as much. Of course, the less scrupulous vendor could also use adverts to manipulate the more hypochondriacal consumers into buying a placebo. Again, something that real companies do, and Big Pharma is tackling it head-on. This sentiment of painting real problems in the industry in a way that allows players to make choices that better affect profit, sans morality, is present throughout the experience.
The game can be played in a variety of scenarios. A player can choose from premade starts that dictate starting map sizes and the monetary position of the company, all of which create a variety of circumstances the player has to overcome. There are also options for custom starts and a complete freebuild mode.
Once a player starts the scenario of their choice, the first step is creating a product. As in the base game, this involves setting up an initial production chain and creating your first product by refining raw ingredients. Once this first product is released, the first big addition for the DLC will become apparent. The inclusion of Executives that will directly impact the profit and market share of the released product. You can choose from a stable of Execs that will impact the result the drug has on the market.
Various factors such as Trials data, disease awareness and more can be harnessed to increase the effectiveness of your Execs. But most of these tactics must be unlocked with research so there isn’t too much min/maxing right at the start of a scenario. Once you release your product you can also set the premium on the drugs as well. Say you want to take advantage of an increased disease awareness campaign by increasing the market price of your drug, Marketing & Malpractice lets you do that. After all, you’re not in the business of curing people, but in the business of making money.
The research system is also heavily flushed out to support the multiple new mechanics. A player can research the following to increase their competitiveness and profit:
Disease Awareness Campaign
Suppress The Press
And More. . .
All of these new additions make for quite an interesting new set of challenges to be overcome. The biggest challenges from the base game remain in the DLC. Namely, planning production chains and reconfiguring them in response to market demand. With the price premium from the DLC, players can build up stock if their premium is too high for market demand. There are also new Stock Gates and Boosters that can affect the flow of product out of the factory door, and thus cash coming in. The challenge of the game is not for everyone, but it’s fun for anyone looking for a complex mix of puzzle-solving and simulation.
Marketing and Malpractice takes the already high bar of the original game and bumps it up a couple of notches. The build at the time of review had all the polish one would expect of the base game. A few minor bugs in menu navigation have been seen, but nothing that detracts from the actual gameplay in my experience. The overall experience is a pleasant one, well worth the $6 USD price even after only a few hours with the game.