Just a couple weeks ago I wrote about how loot boxes got a worse rap than they deserved, and that most major games balance the ways you can unlock content so that while you can pay to do things faster, it doesn’t feel like a necessity.
Well, I guess EA heard that and said “Hey, let’s make Tim look like an idiot.” As their new Star Wars game Battlefront II nears release, it has become very clear that they got drunk, took a shit on the scales, and tipped the balance way over to the “pay to play” side of things.
The currency system used in games is a bit convoluted in itself, and I don’t want to get into all that. The big takeaways though are just how much time you would need to spend in order to unlock abilities and characters. Based on that math, you would need to play for forty hours in order to earn enough in-game credits to unlock Darth Vader. That is more time than most people spend to complete entire games. Of course, you can speed that process up if you want to spend more money to outright buy credits.
And keep in mind, the whole selling point of the game is to play as your favorite Star Wars characters and recreate epic space battles. You can argue that this meant to give a sense of accomplishment at being able to use Luke Skywalker in multiplayer. EA sure has. But there is no way you can say that with a straight face when it would take a player that amount of time to complete three massive open-world games just to get all of the characters. And that’s not including the upgrades and Star Cards needed to make them competitive in online play. You are telling people to spend $60 for a game and then spend even more money on top of that if they want to be able to utilize key aspects of the game in anything that resembles a reasonable amount of time. This is as invasive as loot boxes and microtransactions get in a game. This is shitty mobile game territory.
After the initial outcry, EA said they would reduce the number of credits needed to unlock characters. Of course, there were also reports that they also reduced the number of credits you get for completing missions, so great job EA! You’ve managed to ruin Star Wars for fans even more than The Phantom Menace did!
It didn’t have to be this way. I pointed to Shadow of War as a recent game that managed to make loot boxes and microtransactions an option that was not really invasive to the game experience. And as I have spent more time with that game I stand by that assessment. Battlefront II has positioned itself as the mirror version of that ideal. The Dark Side. The Really Shitty Side. And deep down they know that. That’s why just yesterday they finally gave in and halted all microtransactions in the game. But just temporarily. Once people stop being mad and buy the game they’ll creep back in, because EA does not believe there should be any balance to the Force.
Eat a bag of shit, EA.