Battlefront II comes out this Friday and already everyone is tearing it apart. I guess that’s one of the prices you pay for pre-releasing your game.
Here’s what’s happening. If you are subscribe to EA Access – EA’s Netflix-like game service – you get early access to EA games. As such, people have been able to play Battlefront II.
Now, I have been very, very excited about this game since I first heard that there would be a singleplayer campaign. I have always loved the Star Wars expanded universe and based on the trailers they’ve been releasing, I had really high hopes. To be fair, I still do.
But the internet drama du jour has nothing to do with the singleplayer campaign. In fact, I don’t think anyone is talking about it. The problem is with the one thing that has been plaguing the gaming industry for the past few years.
In a world where an average AAA title costs around $80, video game companies apparently need even more ways to get money out of players. We used to have expansion packs and then came DLCs. Then, mobile games discovered that you could add tiny little items that improved gameplay slightly and put them behind a paywall.
For just $.99 you could speed up the growth rate of your lettuce farm!
Eventually, big companies realized that they could get away with doing that with their big titles, with little to no repercussions. Sure, there was backlash, but people kept buying their games.
So now, microtransactions have become a norm in gaming. Overwatch has them, Battlefield I has them, the newest Call of Duty has them.
And, obviously, Battlefront II has them.
But since every game ever seems to have microtransactions nowadays, what’s the big deal?
I Need To Do What To Unlock Luke?!
Who comes to your mind when you think of Star Wars? Probably Luke Skywalker right? If not him, probably his dad. In all other Battlefront games, these two characters did not need to be unlocked. However, in Battlefront II you have to collect credits to be able to unlock them.
(Or you could just spend real money to open an unreasonable amount of crates. You can see why people are mad.)
Initially, it would’ve cost 60,000 credits to unlock Luke alone, which would require at least 40 hours of grinding. One particular user on Reddit was furious about this and made their opinion clear. Why on earth would EA do this?
In an example of admirable but ultimately unfortunate community management, here’s how EA responded:
The intent is to provide players with a sense of pride and accomplishment for unlocking different heroes.
As for cost, we selected initial values based upon data from the Open Beta and other adjustments made to milestone rewards before launch. Among other things, we’re looking at average per-player credit earn rates on a daily basis, and we’ll be making constant adjustments to ensure that players have challenges that are compelling, rewarding, and of course attainable via gameplay.
We appreciate the candid feedback, and the passion the community has put forth around the current topics here on Reddit, our forums and across numerous social media outlets.
Our team will continue to make changes and monitor community feedback and update everyone as soon and as often as we can.
The comment above is now officially the most downvoted comment in the history of Reddit, with over 400,000 downvotes.
In a strange turn of events, however, EA seems to have listened to community input. In a statement released today, DICE Executive Producer John Wasilczyk said that they’d be reducing “the amount of credits needed to unlock the top heroes by 75%.”
So maybe this will quell the Rebellion. Who knows?
Big Companies Listening to The Gamers?
The fact that the company responded to this massive backlash is impressive. But, it’s also worth remembering that Battlefront II is supposed to be everything that the first Battlefront wasn’t. It seems like the company is aware of this reputation that they have to uphold.
And maybe, EA knows that it cannot afford another disaster like Mass Effect: Andromeda. (Full disclosure, by the way, I loved Andromeda despite its many flaws. But I’m a Bioware fanboy, so my opinion is obviously biased.)
Nevertheless, it’s kind of nice imagining a world where big companies listen to consumers. We won’t ever see microtransactions go away (they’re too lucrative), but compromises like this make me think that maybe there’s still some hope.