UPDATE: DICE’s Executive Producer John Wasilczyk has posted a statement on ea.com after today’s outcry: “Change will be a constant in Battlefront 2”. A Reddit AMA is scheduled for this Wednesday to address concerns with a few of the lead developers. One of the immediate changes that has been implemented is the length of time/number of credits it takes to unlock heroes. Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader (previously unlockable at 60k credits) are now unlocked at 15k, emperor palpatine, chewbacca and leia at 10k, and Iden at 5k. Based on the sheer volume of attention this story has garnered today it’s not surprising that a reply was given, but it is positive to see the developers paying attention to the gamers. We’ll be here with updates on the AMA on Wednesday. CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL STATEMENT ~WR. (update posted: 5:08pm, 11/13/17)
Have you heard the tragedy of Darth Plagueis the wise? It’s not a story the EA Devs would have told you. No, You’ll need 60k Imperial credits to learn about it.
The anticipated sequel to Star Wars Battlefront is nearing release. Scheduled just days from now to drop on November 17th, the community has been up in arms surrounding questionable RNG (random number generation) loot box system and a clear lean towards micro-transaction mechanics. Despite our fascination and obsession with all things Star Wars, we’re a little hesitant to jump on this one. Let’s talk about why:
A recap of the issues so far:
Star Wars Battlefront 2 is featuring a fully fledged single player campaign, as well as an expanded universe of Star Wars battle arenas and events for a huge multiplayer campaign. The game appears to have learned from prior mistakes in SWBF1, and promises a huge amount of content in the sequel. However, with EA at the helm, a number of decisions focused around expanding profit margins have killed a huge amount of the momentum this game has pre-launch. Multiplayer, which is arguably the biggest mode and likely to be the most popular aspect of the Game – centers around loot crate drops that provide players with bonuses, weapons, skins and credits to be used in-game. The root of the issue gamers are having with the system is that each of these star-cards has some not-insignificant impact on the game. Depending on rarity and power level (checked by your player level to be able to craft them) the cards can be as small as a rocket launcher during a crucial moment, to an air strike or massive area of attack damage play. This in and of itself isn’t a new game mechanic, Halo and call of duty have both utilized this system in previous titles. However, being able to acquire these cards through lootcrates is a relatively new twist. Players can recieve power up bonuses one of two ways: 1. get lucky with a loot crate drop, 2. craft the card they want based on player level (higher level you are unlocks ability to craft better cards). When this system was first announced, every star card was available to be found in a loot crate, regardless of level. After an initial outcry, the developers have adapted to allowing all but the most rare/epic cards to be found in loot crates, with the high levels ones only being able to be crafted with drops and pickups from in game. Players can still find powerful cards of course, and being a level 1 player won’t stop you from equipping and using a level 50 card.
The other factor: beloved characters must be unlocked in game. Darth Vader costs about 60k credits to unlock. This ammount of credit can be earned by 1. playing the game for a significant number of hours while leveling up, or 2. you guessed it, purchasing loot crates and collecting the credits from each drop. (or buying the character outright by converting your actual cash into Crystals (Battlefront 2’s virtual currency). As you may have also guessed, Crystals have a much higher buying power than credits.
The trouble of course is that players with low skill and a big wallet can pour money into purchasing these loot crates (and therefore star cards/cool characters/unlockables) and gaining a huge tactical advantage over enemy players. This in turn may inspire others to pay to keep up, if they are interested in continuing to play the game on even footing. This naturally has made a lot of people very angry. It’s not that you shouldn’t be allowed to pay for the things you want, it’s just that players shouldn’t be forced to continue to shell out in order to experience the full game. One player’s estimate is that it can take up to 40 hours of standard gameplay to unlock a hero.
This morning it came to light that in order to unlock a favored character in the Star Wars Universe (Darth Vader), over 60k credits will need to be earned and paid towards an unlock per player. The idea being that after a requisite number of hours put into the multiplayer/campaign, you’d be rewarded with an iconic figure to play as. The trouble is that I could (we’re I so inclined), drop 50$ into the games Micro economy and buy him immediately with the credits earned from crate drops or directly use the crystals (the digital currency converted) to buy him outright. It’s worth noting also, that the deluxe edition of the game (80$ USD) does not include any player content bonuses or unlocks. Darth vader, for the sake of the argument, is still locked in the deluxe edition, and players will still need to grind (or pay) to unlock him as a playable character.
The Developer Disconnect
In response to an outcry in a Reddit thread about this exact problem, a developer posted the most downvoted comment in the history of Reddit, before the thread was locked. See below:
Obviously this didn’t exactly go over well. Most users seemed to be under the impression that they should be able to get what they pay for, and shouldn’t feel like they are being hung out to dry for their wallets in what seems to some like a cash grab.
Later, an EA dev called users on the net “armchair developers”; apparently miffed about the backlash against the company and the design considerations. (The quote has since been pulled down. Archive link above).
Gamers have gotten so fired up about this that there’s even a petition on change.org about this sort of business practice.
The thing about loot boxes isn’t that the community isn’t interested in them or that they are by definition evil. It’s that players want to compete with each other’s skill level, not their wallet. Sure, one may argue it’s a small subset of people who will go in and buy 100$ worth of gear, and shouldn’t they be allowed to? Yes, people can buy what they wish, and that’s fine. It’s when other gamers are blocked from experiencing the same game that others get to based on wallet size, that many (including this editor), have issue with. In a game centered around superiority on the battlefront, I’d rather not get wiped out by epic tier cards that change the course of a battle if for me they take 40 hours to earn, and for you the click of a terms of service agreement button. But as with anything we vote harder with wallets than with words. Maybe I’ll go back to elite dangerous.
We’d love to get your opinons on this. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below and whether you see an issue with the Battlefront 2 loot box system or not. Most importantly, will you be picking this game up on November 17th?