Capping off the Great Star Wars Battlefront II Fiasco of November, Belgium’s Gambling Commission and the Dutch Gaming Authority both began investigating lootboxes/lockboxes to determine whether they constitute gambling and necessitate appropriate regulation. Now, the former has issued its ruling, and unlike the gaming-industry bodies ESRB and PEGI, it didn’t add to the BS smokescreen.
Indeed, the Belgian Kanspel Committee has indeed ruled that the practice is a serious problem. “The mixing of money and addiction is gambling,” it declares. Belgian Minister of Justice Koen Greens told VTM that he aims to have gambling mechanics stricken from games entirely, banned outright, throughout Europe. “But that takes time.”
The US state of Hawaii has joined in the fray too, as state representatives have lambasted EA’s “predatory behavior,” calling the game a “Star Wars-themed online casino, designed to lure kids into spending money.” Is it just one state? Maybe not.
To put it simply, it has not been the best of weeks for Electronic Arts, DICE, or Star Wars Battlefront II.
The publisher’s decision to push exploitative and pay-to-win lockboxes as part of the multiplayer shooter’s business model sparked a mainstream headlines-grabbing backlash from the community. After several PR stumbles, EA finally made the decision to reduce the cost of the lockboxes and pull microtransactions from the game (for now) prior to Battlefront II’s launch.
But the real decision for this move probably came from even higher up. The Wall Street Journal backs up last week’s rumors that “alarmed” Disney execs, in particular Disney Head of Consumer Products and Interactive Media Jimmy Pitaro, put direct pressure on EA to improve the situation. Considering that Star Wars: The Last Jedi is coming out in theaters next month, we suspect it definitely doesn’t help the franchise to have a high-profile video game racking up massive amounts of bad publicity.
Whenever you see a studio call fans “passionate,” it’s almost always shorthand for “rioting with pitchforks and torches.” Guess what Star Wars Battlefront 2’s execs are calling its players this week?
DICE GM Oskar Garbrielson apologized to the game’s “passionate” community about the missteps that EA made in locking its characters behind a prohibitive grind and aggressively pushing microtransactions. He said that the team is disabling all in-game purchases with crystals, at least until the company can figure out a better way to implement them:
“But as we approach the worldwide launch, it’s clear that many of you feel there are still challenges in the design. We’ve heard the concerns about potentially giving players unfair advantages. And we’ve heard that this is overshadowing an otherwise great game. This was never our intention. Sorry we didn’t get this right. We hear you loud and clear, so we’re turning off all in-game purchases. We will now spend more time listening, adjusting, balancing and tuning. This means that the option to purchase crystals in the game is now offline, and all progression will be earned through gameplay. The ability to purchase crystals in-game will become available at a later date, only after we’ve made changes to the game. We’ll share more details as we work through this.”
In case you ever wanted to sniff the distinct scent of internet dumpster fire, you probably should’ve gone to the Star Wars Battlefront II DICE developer AMA on Reddit yesterday and watched that EA world burn. Almost 30,000 comments later, EA’s handpicked community masseuses didn’t walk back any of the specific business model shenanigans or the “sense of pride and accomplishment” blither, and players are actually madder now than they were when they downvoted EA’s comments 677,000 times on Monday.
- Wall Street is freaking out over the potential stock hit to EA should the game launch poorly thanks to angry gamers.
- Belgian authorities are reportedly investigating SWBF2 (via GIbiz) to determine whether its design amounts to a money-fueled game of chance, in which case it would be subject to gambling laws and potentially be fined or censored.
- Players have assessed that it’d take over 4500 hours of play or $2100 to unlock everything in Star Wars: Battlefront 2 as the game’s monetization is currently set.
- Finally, that “EA dev” who claimed he’d received death threats? It’s no longer clear he’s an EA dev, let alone that he received death threats, and he disappeared from social media after Kotaku went digging. Astroturfer? Hmm.
. With thanks to Sorenthaz and Miol.
Don’t be too proud of the barrier to entry you’ve constructed; the ability to make in-game unlocks incredibly expensive is insignificant next to the power of angry consumers. An update after the latest furor over Star Wars: Battlefront II’s hero unlock prices sees the prices for these characters slashed by 75%, bringing Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader down to 15,000 credits, while Palpatine, Leia, and Chewbacca will run 10,000 credits and Iden will cost only 5,000 credits.
What EA doesn’t note in its blog post is that it also reduced reward payouts commensurately.
We’re sure the cost is one that’s still meant to provide a sense of pride and accomplishment, somehow. Whether or not this mollifies players who were rather justifiably miffed about the whole thing remains to be seen; what is already quite obvious is that this is not something that the target audience is taking lightly, so the next move is on Electronic Arts – and that move appears to be an AMA?
Some awards, you do not want to win. The Darwin award, for example. Or “worst business model of the year.” Or “most downvoted comment of all time on Reddit because you have the worst business model of the year,” which EA managed to score this past weekend.
In response to players continuing to riot over Star Wars Battlefront II’s obnoxious business model – specifically, the part where people are upset that key characters are locked behind an additional paywall in a game they already paid $80 for – EA trotted out the old “sense of pride and accomplishment” line. Seriously. They said that. Out loud.
“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.”
Electronic Arts’ pre-E3 event, EA Play, this past weekend afforded us not only the chance to scope out the details of what’s new with Star Wars: Battlefront 2 but the opportunity to play a demo of it. No, it’s not an MMORPG; it’s decidedly a multiplayer shooter, and this sequel is looking promising in key ways.
We covered the original Star Wars: Battlefront, and I’ve played it before for gaming outlets, but I was one of the people who did so and then closed their wallets. Despite the fact that the game was fun, many saw it primarily as an incomplete, multiplayer game. I bought and greatly enjoyed Titanfall, a similar game that emphasized multiplayer action, but that at least had a bit of a narrative and some really unique game design features. It also didn’t charge essentially twice the price of a regular game for DLC maps that split the game’s community. SW:BF1 was pretty and had a little immersion going for it when it stuck to locations in the original trilogy, but it didn’t feel worth the price of a finished AAA game, let alone two. It was Battlefield developer DICE doing Star Wars multiplayer lite.