News HOW THE STAR WARS BATTLEFRONT 2 LOOT CRATE DISASTER GOT THIS BAD

Jonny Weston Nov 17, 2017

  1. Jonny Weston

    Jonny Weston
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    A look back at the past six months of baffling decisions.

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    This should be an exciting time for Electronic Arts. Star Wars Battlefront 2 — one of the company's most highly-anticipated games of the year is finally available. But so much of the excitement has been buried under an avalanche of fan outrage surrounding the game’s loot crates and unlockables. How did things get this bad? Let’s track EA’s many missteps as they developed.

    We first got wind of a Star Wars Battlefront sequel in a way that seems fitting in hindsight: it came during an investor call in May 2016, as EA was discussing its financial outlook. Money — specifically, microtransactions — would play a key role in the Battlefront 2 disaster to come.

    Our first close look at the game came during Star Wars Celebration in April 2017. Judging by the comments on our coverage at the time, most readers were optimistic, especially after EA promised the game would have no season pass.

    When EA announced at E3 that all Star Wars Battlefront 2 DLC would be free, some commenters cheered while others started to grow suspicious. The inevitable news arrived the following day: Battlefront 2 was going to have microtransactions.

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    In an interview, Battlefront 2 design director Niklas Fegraeus told GameSpot, "The important thing is everything can be earned [through gameplay]. If you're someone who spends time on the game, we love you, do your thing, do what you want to do. If you don't have the time, you can spend money and we love you as well. It's your choice.”

    While that sounded suspiciously like a pay-to-win scheme, Fegraeus dismissed the idea. “No, it's not about buying the winning item. No one can say, 'I'm going to spend my zillion dollars and then I'm going to dominate.' That's not how it works."

    Once the Battlefront 2 beta went live in October, it became blindingly obvious that the loot crate system had strong pay-to-win elements. In an opinion piece, we wrote:

    So if I spend $200 on crates, open or craft all the best cards I can, then face an equally skilled opponent at the same level as me who didn’t spend money, I will likely win because I have better tools available. That’s indisputable, which means Battlefront 2 at least has pay-to-win elements. Frankly, that sucks, and would potentially be the kiss of death for any competitive shooter that wasn’t wielding the Star Wars license.

    Turns out even the Star Wars license wasn’t enough to protect Battlefront 2 from the ire of disgruntled fans. Once the pay-to-win system came to light, player outrage grew so loud EA had no choice but to respond.

    In a statement to players, EA promised the most powerful weapons would only be unlockable through in-game achievements — not in loot crates. The company also detailed other changes it hoped would help stamp out pay-to-win fears.

    It’s possible that would have been enough to win back angry fans. Unfortunately for EA, a new outrage arose once Battlefront 2’s Play First Trial began earlier this month. Now that players had their hands on the game, they did the math and discovered it could take upwards of 40 hours of online play to unlock hero characters like Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker. To unlock everything in the game, one player estimated it could take 4,528 hours.

    For some reason EA hopped on Reddit to explain itself, only to have gamers make the post the single most down-voted comment in the site's history. EA eventually caved and lowered the cost of the heroes by 75 percent.

    In an effort to smooth out the relationship with fans, some of Battlefront 2’s developers participated in a Reddit AMA. That might have helped the situation, but many of their answers were overly vague and reeked of PR-speak. As a result, readers down-voted the answers into oblivion.

    Despite all this, Battlefront 2 developer DICE has promised to address the problems in future updates. "We've made a really cool, fun and beautiful game but it was overshadowed by issues with the progression system. We will fix this,” one developer said during the AMA.

    Hours before Star Wars Battlefront 2 went into wide release, EA took the game’s microtransactions offline entirely. In a statement, DICE GM Oskar Gabrielson wrote, “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."

    Surely this isn't how EA had hoped to launch Star Wars Battlefront 2. How they address these issues — and whether their solutions make fans happy — remains to be seen. But maybe this debacle will finally be enough to make EA realize that microtransactions can hurt them too.

    Source: IGN.com
     
  2. lj

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