As many of you probably know, Electronic Arts’ sequel to 2015’s Star Wars Battlefront has proven to be a rather heated topic in recent days. Similar to its prequel, Battlefront II’s launch has been met with middling reviews from critics and fans alike alongside controversial business practices from the likes of its publisher.
The difference this time, however, is that it seems EA’s reach has finally exceeded their grasp and they’ve tipped over a pot that’s been boiling for years. In case you’ve been missing out or would just like to know the latest and greatest in this controversy, here’s a chain of events chronicling the mess that is Star Wars Battlefront II.
October 6th – Disturbance in the Force
Starting from the 6th of October until the 11th, EA launched the first playable public demo of Battlefront II. At this stage it was merely a multiplayer beta demo but the public was eager to have a taste of the game in hopes that EA would’ve learned from their mistakes during the first Battlefront.
While general consensus was rather warm regarding gameplay, uneasiness began to spread amongst the community as it was discovered that player progression within the game was tied to purchasable loot crates.
These crates essentially could contain weapons and what’s known as Star Cards, which could buff player stats in various beneficial ways; this obviously would be detrimental to the final product’s metagame as it meant players with more money could outclass other players regardless of skill.
Concerns were voiced and EA would eventually publish a blog post addressing these points in which they stated that players could earn everything in-game and player skill would be rewarded accordingly. They didn’t exactly directly touch upon the pay-to-win fears players had but many in the community did give them the benefit of the doubt for now. After all, this was just a beta.
November 10th – Plans of the Dark Side
A month would pass before the next peek into the game surfaced from EA’s developmental depths. On November 10th a trial version of Battlefront II was released on Xbox One and PC for members of EA/Origin Access. For the first time ever, players could dive into the full, completed multiplayer experience alongside a brief segment of the game’s single player campaign.
Players could access the trial for 10 hours and all progress made here would carry over into the final game if players bought it. Much like the Empire’s modus operandi in Star Wars’ fictional universe, things were quiet at the beginning and all seemed fine for a time.
The clear and calm waters however, masked an insidious evil underneath that waited to rear its ugly head. Again much like Star Wars, it only takes one dedicated whistle-blower to ignite the fires of a rebellion; and ignite it did.
November 11th – Birth of the Rebellion
A day after the trial version was released, a post on Reddit by user TheHotterPotato kicked off the events that would set the gaming interwebs ablaze with fury. In the post, TheHotterPotato provides a spreadsheet detailing calculations and estimates regarding how long it would take a person to grind for in order to earn a loot crate. Basically, it was a by-numbers indicator of how high EA’s paywall was going to be for the final game; and it was very, VERY high.
Disregarding the fact that paywalls should never be in a full-priced game such as Battlefront II, the expected playtime initially for a player to earn a CHANCE to roll for a character they wanted was a whopping 40 hours.
So say you wanted to play as Darth Vader (coz he’s not unlocked from the start, go figure), you’d have to play at your best for approximately 40 hours before earning enough to buy a loot crate that only has a chance to unlock him for your account. If you don’t roll him, well that’s another 40 hours you gotta commit to try again.
Needless to say, this infuriated the community. While there honestly was no solid evidence proving TheHotterPotato’s stats, many believed the claim as EA had years upon years of greedy practices under their belt already. The post continued to gain traction and notoriety before eventually gaining the attention of EA’s very own community team.
They responded with blatantly obvious marketing speak, stating how the system was there to give players a ‘sense of pride and accomplishment’ and just being all around rather tone deaf and ignorant of the situation as a whole.
This did not go well.
While the initial post likely would’ve stopped gaining attention within the week, EA’s response kicked the hornet’s nest into hyperdrive and all PR hell broke loose. The comment made by EA’s community team ended up becoming the most disliked post on Reddit at over 675,000 downvotes (seen as a mere 20,900 downvotes now due to Reddit’s weird system).
That achievement became a talking point in itself, with other subreddits and news outlets spreading the good word to even more people. Thus began the violent downfall of Star Wars Battlefront II.
November 15th & Beyond– The Fight Continues
At this point, it can be safely said that EA has well and truly messed themselves up. Not only is the damage irreversible, it’s actually still growing at the time of writing this article; to the point where it has actually affected microtransaction practices as a whole.
Aside from the numerous articles from various outlets, governments themselves are looking into what EA has done with its loot crates as many have begun talks on whether it constitutes as gambling. Belgium’s Gambling Authority opened an investigation into loot crates and similar transactions in gaming, the State of Hawaii put out a video from a news conference stating they plan to address the predatory practices by EA and other companies, a French senator joins the fight by bringing the issue up with France’s own gambling authority and finally, the Australian state of Victoria has also very recently begun conversations on the subject as well.
To top this off, word has been going around that Disney themselves have confronted EA on this matter as it has understandably tarnished the brand of Star Wars as a whole (this is just a rumour at best though and should be taken with a grain of salt).
At this moment, Star Wars Battlefront II has been released and is in a playable state. The loot crates have actually been removed from the game with EA stating that this is only temporary, thereby missing the point of the controversy entirely. Some players are reporting glitches and bugs here and there with recent patches, and many more are commenting on how progression is now broken as it is now more apparent than ever that the loot crates were in fact, heavily integrated into the overall progression system.
- There’s no doubt about it; the persistent and increasingly ravenous money-grabbing plans of these large corporations have finally overstepped their boundaries. The consequence now is almost like its own revolution, with government bodies stepping in and seeking to regulate this once unchecked behaviour. While it remains to be seen whether this will be a good thing or not in the long run, there’s some genuine schadenfreude to be gained here. The greedy are being punished for being greedy, and that just makes for great viewing.