UPDATE: Since this article was written EA have reduced the amount of credits you need to unlock a Hero by 75%
A few months ago, I wrote an article about how hopeful I was for the upcoming Star Wars Battlefront 2 and how it would be a major consumer friendly shift for EA as a company. The vast amounts of DLC made the 2015 Battlefront a highly inaccessible game for most people and EA had faced a large amount of backlash over this, including from the star of Episode 7: John Boyega.
They delivered their June E3 conference with the pretence that they were listening. The pretence that they had took into account the wishes of the majority of fans. That they would create a game that would be fun, balanced and even have a single player campaign. This seems to have come at a loss however, as EA are now happy to screw over their customers all over again.
One of the major points of discussion in video games in the past year has been the issue of loot crates. Players hate them, but they make games companies a lot of money. Loot crates are randomized virtual crates full of in game items that you pay real world money for. They currently dominate the contemporary gaming landscape and have been slowly creeping into the mainstream since their most early incarnations in some of Valves games.
Name any recent AAA game and there is a good chance there will be some sort of loot crate mechanic in them. Overwatch, Shadow of War, Call of Duty: they all have them, and to fans dismay it was revealed – during last month’s open beta – that the new Star Wars game would have them too.
Over the last few days it seems fans have reached their limit with the game and, especially on Reddit, have been expressing their outrage in swathes. The biggest criticism was the fact that many of the major Star Wars characters were locked out of the game until you put in a ridiculous amount of time or payed more money on top of the already steep price of an AAA game.
One user – TheHotterPotato – worked out that to unlock all playable characters, without spending any extra money, you would have to be playing the online game for a whopping 170.67 hours. Just to play as Luke Skywalker – one of the Star Wars Saga’s most famous characters – you would need to invest over 60 hours of gameplay time alone. Or I guess you could just invest those savings that have been sitting around… I mean, what else would you be spending your money on anyway?
This led to an extremely stupid response from EA in a Reddit thread – breaking the record by a long mile of the most down-voted comment in the sites history. If this isn’t a major wakeup call to the company I really don’t know what will be. This is now the boiling point of acceptability for loot crates in games, if there ever was one.
So, what do we do? As video game players should we just accept these micro transactions as the normal and move on? Some part of me believes that games companies will change for the better after the debacle faced this year but most of me does not.
Star Wars Battlefront 2 will still likely be a giant success and will still make EA a lot of money. Despite this we have a choice to stop buying games which directly exploit us as consumers. A choice to show, in however small of a way it may be, that this kind of thing is not acceptable.