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Microtransactions: Has EA gone too far this time?

Every time a new game comes with significant microtransactions, many gamers are disappointed. But EA may have taken it too far this time, judging by the backlash.

Every time a new game is launched with a significant number of microtransactions, gamers decry the emphasis on profit over quality that has taken over much of the games industry.

This is especially prevalent in the AAA game sphere, which has seen an increase in both base game prices and microtransactions.

EA is one of the most notorious profit-focused publishers. They were one of the first publishers accused of removing base game content to save for DLC, they are known for shoe-horning in multiplayer modes to increase microtransactions and profit over quality has been a long-established mantra in many of their titles over the past five years.

But with Star Wars Battlefront II, has EA gone too far?

Star Wars: Battlefront II and Microtransactions

There are a number of factors combined that have made Battlefront II’s microtransactions particularly infuriating for the fan base.

Firstly, Battlefront II is a AAA with the price tag of $80. So anything players have to pay above-and-beyond this is already a big ask.

Secondly, Battlefront’s entire appeal is based on the Star Wars franchise. Naturally, players would want to play their favourite character from the movies. So when gamers found out that DARTH VADER was locked behind a paywall, they were naturally outraged.

Darth Vader can be unlocked through playtime. But there is a huge caveat — Darth Vader required 48 hours of game time to unlock. No, not logging in a bit for a few hours for two days. Rather, 48 full hours spent playing the game.

This is a ridiculous ask for a multiplayer game. Furthermore, this isn’t some cosmetic item with a rare Darth Vader. This is the regular Darth Vader — a mainstay of the franchise.  Therefore many players would choose to simply buy the character.

Add to this loot boxes in Battlefront II which require players to essentially gamble to get items.

All-in-all, these multiple ways in which players are being extorted in the game has added up to fury I haven’t seen since Mass Effect 3’s ending.

However, what further stoked the flames was EA’s response.

EA Response Becomes Most Downvoted Reddit Comment Ever

EA responded to the criticism on a Reddit thread which questioned the Darth Vader paywall.

Seriously? I paid 80$ to have Vader locked?” is the title of the thread. But it’s the developer response that has made this thread go viral.

According to Motherboard, EA’s response is the most downvoted comment in Reddit history. This record was reached yesterday already, at 280 000 downvotes. The dislike expressed for their response has more than doubled since. At the time of writing, the response has a karma score of over -641 000. The dislike grows by the second.

So what did EA have to say that caused such distaste? You can see their response below:

ea-battlefront-ii-response-reddit

There was no hesitation of commenters jumping in to point out the many flaws in EA’s argument, especially regarding the sense of achievement and attainability through gameplay.

There is no sense of achievement when you can immediately unlock a character through microtransactions. This isn’t an exclusive achievement for people who put in a serious amount of playtime. It’s either for people who grind or people who pay. There is no way to discern who is who.

ea-backlash-gif

Secondly, the amount of time it takes to unlock a character like Darth Vader is an extreme grind. This doesn’t make it a very “attainable” goal.With all the outrage and the subsequent viral spread of the post, however, EA quickly changed their tune.

EA Changes Character Unlock System

In a statement released by DICE Executive Producer John Wasilczyk announced a huge reduction to the credit requirements for characters was announced.

“We’re reducing the amount of credits needed to unlock the top heroes by 75%,” Wasilczyk said.

“Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader will now be available for 15 000 credits; Emperor Palpatine, Chewbacca, and Leia Organa for 10 000 credits; and Iden at 5 000 credits. Based on what we’ve seen in the trial, this amount will make earning these heroes an achievement, but one that will be accessible for all players.”

star-wars-battlefront-ii-screenshot
While it’s a welcome change, players have encouraged others to not let EA off the hook. The publisher has changed one aspect of its microtransactions, but hasn’t addressed the underlying problem.

There is also the likelihood that EA will also attempt to push more microtransaction boundaries in other titles. One change will hardly address the profit-focused culture that has taken over the publisher’s games.

There has apparently been a torrent of pre-order refunds requested by fans. As a result, EA has allegedly removed the refund option on their customer portal and you will now have to phone in to get your money back.

Does this prove that nothing has really changed for EA?

Do you think that EA has gone too far this time? Are these changes too little too late? Let me know in the comments below…

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