November 17, 2017. That was the day EA officially launched Star Wars Battlefront 2. Even before its launch, however, Battlefront was being criticized for its pay to win loot crates. The gaming community was rife with discussions on ethics and where loot boxes constituted gambling. The government even threatened to intervene, with Hawaii State Legislator Chris Lee calling Battlefront 2 a “Star Wars themed casino” aimed directly at children.
The loot crates where pulled before the game was officially launched but the damage was already done. The stink of pay to win and gambling was all over it and as a result, the game underperformed sales expectations. The shame of all this is that underneath all the mess there is a really fun first-person shooter.
This week EA has announced a full revamp of the progression systems in the game. While there is still in-game purchases, they consist of only cosmetic items such as skins. Any purchases you have made beforehand are still honored but now star codes, weapon/armor/skills buffs, but they are now only earned through gameplay progression.
That’s the backstory on where we began and where we are now. But the thing I really want to delve in here is about the sentiment surrounding the announcement. A common opinion I’ve heard is that it doesn’t matter if EA changes the progression system now, the game is old and it doesn’t matter anymore. I have to call BS on that one.
While Battlefront II story may be written in the court of public opinion, EA’s revamp is still important. A major publisher backed off on a business move, that is proven to make Noah’s Ark loads of money because gamers universally lambasted the move and said enough. This wasn’t just a case of big bad EA doing gamers wrong and sticking to there guns. They flinched it can change everything.
If you look at the marketing around games with loot crates today they aren’t talked about in the same brash manner that EA originally discussed loot boxes with. Companies now lay out what will and won’t be on loot crates and they tend to stray far away from pay to win practices.
The Game industries main purpose is to make money. Yes, video games are art, in my opinion, and I’m sure there are many developers out there working for their love of the craft and not the green. But at the end of the day, it’s a business and we as gamers need to understand that. Somethings they only way to learn what we can’t do is through cause and effect. The old adage, touch the fire and get burned applies heavily here.
EA wants to squeeze the gaming community for all the profits it can. They do it slowly but surely but eventually, the gaming community said ouch and they had to stop. This colossal misstep by EA will educate them and other developers on what we as a gaming community as a whole will take. As Colin Moriarty says “Vote with your wallet”.
The lesson to the gaming industry isn’t the only important take away from this shift either. I believe sometimes the internet as a whole takes on a whole ‘BURN IT DOWN’ mentality. People jump in to beat the drum of war and anarchy and they have no stake in the outcome. They riot and they leave and don’t care about what’s left behind in their wake. This matters because people took a stand and instituted change. Sometimes we need to take responsibility for the things we do on social media, both the good and the bad.
Thanks for reading, comment below with your thoughts or tweet me @bypartisangamer. Till next time I’m Chuck the Bypartisan Gamer signing off.