People have been stirring up an unholy shitstorm for the past few days, after it was discovered just extensive microtransactions had been woven into the fabric of EA's new Star Wars game Battlefront II. Last night, just before launch, EA confirmed that microtransactions had been switched off. For now anyway.
Today, we turned off in-game purchases for #StarWarsBattlefrontII. The game is built on your input, and it will continue to evolve and grow. Read the full update: https://t.co/asGASaYXVppic.twitter.com/vQSOmsWRgk
— EAStarWars (@EAStarWars) November 17, 2017
Backstory time. After playing the Battlefront II beta people started complaining about the loot box system built into the multiplayer modes. Not only were there accusations that the system offered an advantage to people who payed more money (Kotaku has a good rundown of how that works), players realised that grinding for the credits needed to unlock everything was going to take a very, very long time.
The prime example mentioned was that to unlock Darth Vader or Luke Skywalker, the game's two most expensive heroes, people would have to play for 40 hours. After the resulting shitstorm EA reduced the price of the hero characters by 75 per cent, but then got into more trouble after it was discovered that there were cooldowns in the multiplayer arcade mode that limited the number of credits you could earn each day. People also weren't that happy that the credit reward for completing the campaign had also been reduced by 75 per cent.
It's not clear what this announcement means for those cooldown times right now, but it's worth pointing out that the microtransactions are not gone forever. While it's a good thing that EA has listened to feedback among the overwhelming negative publicity it's been subject to the past few days, that's not going to go very far if the system doesn't change.
For the record I don't mind microtransactions existing, and I can understand locking certain multiplayer components away for people to unlock as they play. What isn't good is when those two things mingle, and people with large wallets and little patience get to pay for a noticeable advantage. Even more so when the game seems to be designed to ensure it's basically impossible to unlock things without paying.
Let's keep the loot boxes to cosmetic items, shall we? Skins, fancy hats, and other things that make no difference to gameplay but still let people personalise heir game.