Many people have heard the controversy surround Electronic Arts and their business practices about Star Wars Battlefront 2 which was released on 11/17/2017. The game itself initially left many people skeptical after the first game only contained a bare-bones Story and multiplayer. However, a great trailer, a bigger emphasis on a unique story and the ability to play more Star Wars characters gave everyone hype about the game. However, early access players noticed a huge issue with Star Wars Battlefront II that has snowballed into a horrible situation for EA. 

  • Players discovered that it would 4,528 hours or $2100 to unlock all content for Star Wars Battlefront II. Many characters are locked including Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker who are playable in the previous game. They must be unlocked by earning enough credits or obtaining them via a loot box by chance. Even purchasing the premium edition of the game didn’t unlock the main Star Wars characters.
  • Microtransactions can actually affect the actual gameplay. Rather than purely cosmetic items in loot boxes, players can potentially buy boost that can increase damage or armor for players. This creates an imbalance in the game and people willing to spend actual money earn competitive advantages.
  • Fan outcry led to a controversial statement from EA’s Community team. It has become the most downvoted comment on Reddit history. Players felt they were being ridiculed and that EA believes the high cost was reasonable.

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.

  • EA then lowers the cost of the characters but also lowers the amount players can earn to compensate. After players discovered it, EA then shuts off all in-game purchases temporary until future changes are made.
  • Many people began to return their purchases of the game but EA temporary disabled the feature until returning it. This led to low reviews from many users and has dropped the Metacritic score to 69 but 0.9 for users.
  • Shares for EA have dropped 10 percent and continuous fan and gamers outcry continue to trend over social media and news outlets. Many news organizations such as CNN are reporting Star Wars Battlefront II microtransaction loot boxes as “gambling.” European countries are potentially banning the loot box system as it is considered gambling.
  • KeyBanc Capital Markets analyst Evan Wingren stated that players anger are not justified. He compared the value of game time to monetary value and that games should be more expensive. Compared to how much time a game is played, Evan believes that microtransactions are ways for companies to earn money based on the “actual value.” It was revealed that he was an investor of EA and Comcast (EA’s parent company) which immediately discredit his statements as they are a potential bias.

Star Wars Battlefront II is an example of the game as a service model. You are making an initial investment in the game only to pay more to gain more features. Many players are angry at this model as it differs from the original “buy once and that’s it.” Games as a service have greatly increased the value of the industry but has distanced gamers and sowed in the Gaming companies. Star Wars Battlefront II is an extreme example and another example of EA‘s poor business practices to squeeze as much money from consumers as possible. Despite the backlash, EA is planning to bring back loot boxes to Star Wars and in their future games. EA is also aware of this backlash and actively strategized against it. By creating a Beta for players to learn about the initial flaws and show them to the world, EA can then market themselves as bringing changes into the game once it is released. When people learn that EA is changing the model, then people may actively begin purchasing Star Wars Battlefront II again. This creates a better view for consumers who don’t research too far into the changes which leave them to fall victim of similar business practices.

If you are against this system, don’t buy their games. Besides spreading the word about it, the biggest way you can affect them is not purchasing their games in the near future.

Sources:

Initial Reddit Post that created the current situation

EA’s Apology

Calculations to Unlock all Star Wars Content

EA Community Manager Response = most down voted comment in Reddit

Evan Wingren’s Analysis on Games Value

Evidence Against Evan Wingren’s Bias for EA

Marketing/PR Analysis of EA

Metacritic Score

 

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