“We will now spend more time listening, adjusting, balancing & tuning.”
November 17, 2017 5:16 PM   Subscribe

Star Wars Battlefront 2 players took on EA, and won (for now). [Polygon] “The microtransactions are gone from Star Wars Battlefront 2, at least for the moment. The fans, with their days, if not weeks, of outrage over the paid content, have won their fight against Electronic Arts. Just like that, the day before it was set to be officially released, the for-pay currency has been removed from the game. Good.”

• Star Wars Battlefront 2 Microtransactions Will Return With Progression Boosts [Game Rant]
“EA has temporarily removed microtransactions from Star Wars Battlefront 2 following huge backlash, saying that it would make changes before bringing them back. Now, an EA representative has shed a little more light on exactly how the new system might work. In a phone call with US Gamer regarding the matter, a representative for EA reportedly said that the Star Wars Battlefront 2 team is going “back to the drawing board” and will focus on balance. The team is specifically looking to balance the game regarding those who want an “accelerated experience.” The implication is that when Star Wars Battlefront 2‘s microtransactions return, players will be able to spend money on “accelerators” which will likely affect gameplay in some way. On Twitter, US Gamer‘s Kat Bailey elaborated on the report, saying that the “main takeaway” from the conversation with EA is that microtransactions will still be tied to progression when they are eventually added back into the game.”
• EA's Star Wars Battlefront II backtrack shows the limitations of loot boxes [The Verge]
“Since the game went live for EA Access and Origin Access subscribers late last week, players have taken umbrage with the various currency systems and how those affect unlockable upgrades, known as Star Cards. Battlefront II also puts a time limit on how often you're able to earn currency in some modes, earning unflattering comparisons with free-to-play mobile games. The biggest issue, however, has been how Battlefront II gates access to the "hero" characters. For those unfamiliar with the franchise, players spend most of their time in Battlefront taking the role of a regular grunt on the ground — say, a stormtrooper or battle droid. But over the course of a multiplayer match, players can earn points to call in powerful hero units, letting them play as characters like Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader. This time around, though, there's a big catch. While some of Battlefront II's heroes are available immediately, if you want to play as Luke, Vader, Chewbacca, Emperor Palpatine, Leia, or campaign protagonist Iden Versio, you have to unlock them first using "credits", one of Battlefront II's three in-game currencies. ”
• Star Wars: Battlefront 2 Reddit Post Receives Over 680,000 Downvotes [Gamespot]
“EA took to Reddit recently to respond to player concern about Star Wars: Battlefront II's loot boxes, and the post has apparently received the most downvotes ever--by a huge margin. Some fans began expressing frustration and anger toward the game when it came to light that you could only gain access to certain heroes through loot boxes. Further, rough calculations estimated that it would take upwards of 40 hours to earn enough in-game currency to purchase the boxes--meaning that you were either in for a long grind, or you could pay real money to get more loot boxes to get in-game currency more quickly. EA decided to enter the fray on Reddit to explain its reasoning for pricing and reward structure, and it was not received well.”
The intent is to provide players with a sense of pride and accomplishment for unlocking different heroes. As for cost, we selected initial values based upon data from the Open Beta and other adjustments made to milestone rewards before launch. Among other things, we're looking at average per-player credit earn rates on a daily basis, and we'll be making constant adjustments to ensure that players have challenges that are compelling, rewarding, and of course attainable via gameplay. We appreciate the candid feedback, and the passion the community has put forth around the current topics here on Reddit, our forums and across numerous social media outlets. Our team will continue to make changes and monitor community feedback and update everyone as soon and as often as we can.
• Suspension Of Star Wars Battlefront 2’s Microtransactions Isn’t A ‘Victory’ [Attack of the Fanboy]
“Demonetizing progression is definitely a step in the right direction. In a previous piece where I argued that the only way for EA to get the message about microtransactions was for Battlefront 2 to fail, I openly acknowledged that EA (for whatever motives it had) is capable of adjusting when needed and had shown evidence of that already. Once again, we saw that in action last night as this was the second time EA made a major adjustment to Battlefront 2 before launch. And while that’s great, the fact still remains that though crystals have been removed, loot boxes ares still very much in play. As mentioned in my previous discussion, players would need to spend on average 4,528 hours in order to unlock and max out every Star Card or spend $2,100 to achieve the same end. As of now, all that’s changed is that players no longer have a shortcut to be able to unlock everything. Players still need to spend an outrageous amount of time to unlock everything and your success in the “short term” remains heavily influenced by RNG. Star Cards which offer enhancements to features and stats such as movement speed, damage and aim assist (really?) still exist and take time to unlock — you just can’t buy your way to them anymore.”
• The tragedy of the Star Wars: Battlefront II loot crates [Venture Beat]
“We don’t what the consequences are yet, but gamers should know that nothing comes for free. If you take away monetization of DLC, and monetization of loot crates, you also take away the things that those make possible, like more and better game content. EA has taken a lot of abuse online. Many fans called it greedy and the most-hated company in video games. Those words come after EA bought Titanfall maker Respawn Entertainment for $455 million last week. And after EA shut down Visceral Games because its Star Wars game wasn’t resonating with fans. Both the Respawn and Visceral moves prompted a lot of cynicism from fans. I thought the criticism was unfair and I gave EA the benefit of the doubt in those cases. But in my opinion, EA’s handling of the loot crates has been worse. The company has staged a long retreat, when a simple and short one would have been better, in hindsight.”
posted by Fizz (52 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
Fuck EA. They ate some shit this week because the social/media backlash was overwhelming. They didn't actually do the right thing here, they just backed off...for the time being.

They're going to sucker in a bunch of people to buy Battlefront 2 opening weekend and sure, the microtransactions aren't present at this time, but they'll reintroduce them further down the road, and by then, welp, they already have your fucking money, so what are you going to do, nothing. If you want to play the game, you'll pay the game.

I didn't buy the first Battlefront and I don't plan on buying this one. Despite how great the game looks and how long I've dreamt of being able to take control of Vader and fly around and destroy shit. I refuse to support these assholes. Fuck em.
posted by Fizz at 5:54 PM on November 17, 2017 [16 favorites]


If you take away monetization of DLC, and monetization of loot crates, you also take away the things that those make possible, like more and better game content

Yes, but it also seems unfair to expect people to pay $80 US for a product that then hides its most exciting content behind a system that incentivizes getting more money out of their pockets.

I get that making and supporting AAA titles is expensive, particularly given the need to maintain servers for them, since we're apparently only supposed to play games online now, but they've got to figure out a better model.
posted by nubs at 6:02 PM on November 17, 2017 [4 favorites]


And, despite my own and my kids intense interest in this title, I'm not getting it. This crap has completely turned me off.
posted by nubs at 6:03 PM on November 17, 2017 [3 favorites]


I don't think it'll happen but there's hope that EA may some day lose the licensing rights to Star Wars and it might go to a better game developer.

Star Wars Petition Wants The License Pulled From EA [Cinema Blend]
“If you've missed all of the headlines these past few days, folks aren't too happy with EA's handling of Star Wars Battlefront II. They've made their frustrations known on forums, through review sites and, most recently, through a petition to pull the Star Wars license from the publisher. If you head on over to Change.org, you'll discover a petition is circulating called "Lucasfilm: Revoke EA's Star Wars License." As of this writing, the petition has gained 4,345 virtual signatures. According to the petition summary, those were gained over the course of about three days. While not the most eloquently worded argument, the petition hits on several key points as being cause for concern when it comes to EA's handling of the Star Wars license.”
posted by Fizz at 6:15 PM on November 17, 2017 [3 favorites]


microtransactions suck, EA sucks, the plan for microtransactions in this game was incredibly sleazy, i think i agree with nearly everyone on metafilter about that. however.

gamers are the most disgustingly entitled subculture on Earth and it makes them feel alive to harass people. they accidentally did something good this time, but for many, many of the people angry about this, especially at reddit where it started, it's the same thing motivating this and gamergate, it's just about pure id and rage.
posted by vogon_poet at 6:16 PM on November 17, 2017 [35 favorites]


You're spot on vogon_poet. I mean death threats over a video-game! Ugh, what is wrong with people.

The sad thing is that there is another way to show EA that this is not acceptable and it's pretty easy. Don't buy their game. Just boycott them. When sales tank, they'll either adapt, learn, or move on. But the thing is, we all know there's a large majority of people who are complaining about these games and feel entitled to complain in the most ugly and disgusting of ways (death threats, misogyny, assault, abuse, etc).

And yet they keep on buying games from the same company that have proven time and time again that they do not care about their base, that their only concern is $$. I admit I've been burned by EA in the past and I've learned. I stopped buying their games. Not only because I've been burned, but also because I see how they treat their employees, game designers, staff. I don't want to be a part of a system that props up that kind of behaviour. Sadly, I don't see it changing any time soon.
posted by Fizz at 6:32 PM on November 17, 2017 [4 favorites]


If the only way to be economically successful with your game is to use behavioral economics to incentivize the dopamine hits that come with microtransactions, creating titles that cost anywhere from $1,000 (LoL) to $6,000 (Skylanders) to fully unlock, you might be the evil ones.

And gamers just perpetuate the problem by buying into Kickstarters for trash games, purchasing alpha access for Steam titles that are generally never finished to any level of polish, and buying $50 worth of lives for freaking Candy Crush. I don't fully blame the gamers, because devs have these people twisted around their little fingers, but the industry won't change until gamers do.
posted by xyzzy at 6:34 PM on November 17, 2017 [3 favorites]


The worst part about this BF2 saga is that I've had to read a million comments all over the place that start with "As a gamer,..."

And if you read the "[...]Isn’t A ‘Victory’" article up above, you'll see that the real problem the "As a gamer,..." crowd has with the loot boxes is that they allowed people with day jobs to pay their way to an even playing field with the dudes who can spend 10+ hours a day on the game. Now the group that can put 4k+ hours into the game gets all the content, and the people who cannot have no way to get it.

This whole thing was never about having to pay more money, it's about the "casuals" getting a handout (a handout they pay for, of course).

It's actually pretty similar to the "welfare" discussion, to be honest.
posted by sideshow at 7:10 PM on November 17, 2017 [3 favorites]


Yep. Having loved playing the original Battlefront games a couple of consoles ago, I was really happy to hear they were redoing the game. Count me down as another who flat out refused to buy the rehash for obvious reasons and now won't be buying this one either.

Such a shame, because while I want to punish EA's poor choices, I want to encourage them to continue making Star Wars games like the original Battlefronts. Keep the micro-transactions to cosmetics or solo campaign progression only. I hate buying a game only to find that a large part of it is only accessible after dropping more cash in.
posted by Start with Dessert at 7:16 PM on November 17, 2017


Jimquisition has a well though out review of Battlefront...I mean Gamblefront II. It is riddled with bugs.
posted by Fizz at 7:19 PM on November 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


One argument against cutting back on poker machines here in Australia is that a lot of pubs will have to close down without that revenue and that'll harm the communities where that's the only social venue. Because as we all know, there were no pubs in Australia before poker machines.

As far as I know, no one had any problem flogging Star Wars merch, or computer games in general, before the kiddie-gambling revenue model existed. If your Star Wars game or Aussie pub lost money it was because they were crap, not because you weren't evil enough.
posted by adept256 at 7:26 PM on November 17, 2017 [13 favorites]


The "BIG" AAA publishers (EA and Activision) increasingly make products where the "game" aspect of it seems like an afterthought to both the publisher and, strangely, the players as well. There's maybe a tiny core of bland gameplay surrounded by layers of fatty tissue, microtransactions and RNG and grinding for "levels" divorced of any meaning.

It's completely fucked but also kind of... interesting? Like, who the fuck buys these things and why are they torturing themselves? It seems like the synthetic leveling mechanics draw in players who are interested in extended low-intensity distraction where the numbers just keep going up. And then there's something compelling about being part of this never-ending toxic "community" for the purchaser. I mean, there must be right?

I dunno, I can't wrap my head around it. When I was a kid games were an escape from the complicated unsatisfaction of reality, and now I feel like all the bullshit of reality is being injected into games purposefully, and it seems to be something that people WANT.
posted by selfnoise at 8:00 PM on November 17, 2017 [8 favorites]


And if you read the "[...]Isn’t A ‘Victory’" article up above, you'll see that the real problem the "As a gamer,..." crowd has with the loot boxes is that they allowed people with day jobs to pay their way to an even playing field with the dudes who can spend 10+ hours a day on the game. Now the group that can put 4k+ hours into the game gets all the content, and the people who cannot have no way to get it.

I strongly endorse No Cartridge, who had an interview about difficulty in games, heavily focused around Dark Souls. They started from the idea that there's a certain expectation that games will have an easy mode, that not having one is somewhat hostile, but they disagree and argue that difficulty and variation in difficulty is part of game design and it's reasonable for the developer to control it.

I think when you get into hardcore gamers the attitude is the opposite. There are people who have no sense of identity except being good at video games. To them even just having an easy mode available for other people to play is an attack on their self-worth.

I guess like, people who are into hiking might have contempt for people who drive for part or all of a trek. Surely if some guy drives a car up a mountain you're naturally going to feel smug and superior, it seems like the same phenomenon, just not so deranged. When gamers experience the same emotions they just mix it up with violent masculinity, fear, and rage.
posted by vogon_poet at 8:02 PM on November 17, 2017 [3 favorites]


The first Star Wars Battlefront game was pretty shit. No reason to think "#2, with more shakedown" is gonna be better.
posted by Nelson at 8:34 PM on November 17, 2017 [2 favorites]


Watching this play out in near real time on reddit was fucking amazing, but I'm with vogon_poet that it's also a bunch of ostensible adults throwing an internet tantrum.

It's "amazing" in the same way as maybe watching a terrifying mob dispensing some much needed justice for once, and if there's any 800 pound gorilla bully in the gaming room that needs a bloody nose it's probably EA, and it's been that way for decades now. (Anyone who knows anyone who has worked there has probably heard how much of a grind and gristmill it is to work there, and they've been in trouble with labor crap a few times now.)

I don't know where the milquetoast comments involved from EA in the disastrous AMA are standing at now but they were well on their way to becoming the most downvoted anything in the history of reddit. Like on the day of the AMA and the fallout they were already like number 2 or 3 for most downvoted comments for multiple comments and weak corporate replies.

The whole "we think it will give the player a sense of achievement" line in the face of questions about transactional gaming was kind of a historically epic flub at least as far as gaming PR fiascos go.
posted by loquacious at 8:49 PM on November 17, 2017 [3 favorites]


I'm so not a multiplayer gamer, so this might be a dumb question, but: couldn't they somehow distinguish (even invisibly) between people who leveled up by paying and those who "earned" it the hard way? Then the gamer bros could have their own hardcore "cheaters not allowed" - what do you call them, forums? servers? but casual gamers could still play the whole game?
posted by ctmf at 9:09 PM on November 17, 2017


Okay, but a bigger issue is, by rights this is Star Wars: Battlefront IV. The first two Star Wars: Battlefronts were great, and I'm annoyed that they started counting at one again.
posted by RobotHero at 10:10 PM on November 17, 2017 [4 favorites]


And if you read the "[...]Isn’t A ‘Victory’" article up above, you'll see that the real problem the "As a gamer,..." crowd has with the loot boxes is that they allowed people with day jobs to pay their way to an even playing field with the dudes who can spend 10+ hours a day on the game. Now the group that can put 4k+ hours into the game gets all the content, and the people who cannot have no way to get it.

I don't get that impression at all (although I'm sure that somewhere there really are people who are saying that). It seems to reflect the most common complaint about gameplay-affecting transaction mechanics like this, which is the effect that they have on the way the game is designed for people who don't want to or can't pay. They tend to mean that the game will be deliberately made to become increasingly annoying and frustrating to play without paying to "unlock" stuff, and having to play for 4,000 hours to get the whole game is a pretty extreme case of that.

I've been playing Destiny 2, and although its "loot box" mechanic is mostly cosmetic, you can see how it's lead to parts of the game being limited to encourage people to pay (mostly by changing the equipment "shaders" from unlimited, like they were in the first game, to consumable). It sounds like the Battlefront transaction mechanics were much worse than that.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 10:29 PM on November 17, 2017 [3 favorites]


The game industry could do dozens and dozens of things to make games more accessible to people who don't have a ton of time to grind levels that AREN'T "charge people thousands of dollars to unlock everything."

The worst thing about monetizing a game with microtransactions is that it gives developers an incentive to make gameplay a boring slog that you're willing to pay a lot of money to skip past - while making it just compelling enough that you don't give up on it entirely. That ultimately results in a game that's not good for hardcore gamers or casual gamers or even gamers who are willing to spend thousands of dollars. A game that's good on its own merits, if it's not extremely difficult, can be enjoyed by someone who doesn't have more than a few hours now and then to put in.
posted by Jeanne at 10:51 PM on November 17, 2017 [12 favorites]


If you take away monetization of DLC, and monetization of loot crates, you also take away the things that those make possible, like more and better game content

Sure, the industry is going to say that, but where's the proof?
posted by Beholder at 10:55 PM on November 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


And if you read the "[...]Isn’t A ‘Victory’" article up above, you'll see that the real problem the "As a gamer,..." crowd has with the loot boxes is that they allowed people with day jobs to pay their way to an even playing field with the dudes who can spend 10+ hours a day on the game.

I'm fine with there being multiple paths to content - and I think Blizzard has managed to hit a good balance on their titles, so it is possible to to implement a pay to play scheme that isn't super onerous. EA is a shit company run by shit people. It's been that way since I was an EA employee (for a short time - the studio I worked for got bought and then closed by the EA chucklefucks) and it will be that way for my grandchildren.

Point is - FUCK EA. They can die in a fire that is itself on fire with fires of fire.

Second, the "loot box" mechanic had more in common with a slot machine than anything else and honestly, I wouldn't have been surprised if an enterprising DA looked at that and saw grist for a reelection campaign written all over it.

This debacle is delicious. There may yet be an opportunity for EA - Company of BroNards to finally collapse under it's own coke-addled weight. I can just imagine the calls from Disney, disciplined as they are about not killing gooses of gold, berating the EA marketing morons for their imbecilic moronity.

Also, Ars rated the game "avoid". That's a rare rating.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:56 PM on November 17, 2017 [8 favorites]


Having both played games with microtransactions like Battlefront 2 and helped develop them, there's a few things that lead to this blowing up. I used to work with one of the producers on Battlefront, I want to ask him how this all developed internally.

First, the way the star cards work is pretty random, you either have to get lucky and randomly get the ability you want or slowly grind for it with crafting. This is a really risky design because it can easily frustrate players who don't randomly get the thing they want. Also, the Star Wars theme doesn't fit at all with gambling-style loot crates, Madden and FIFA have been using systems like this for years and it doesn't bother players as much because trading cards and gambling are already associated with sports. Unlike the cards the heroes are actually not random, you just spend flat credits to unlock them like in many other games. On it's own the hero unlock system would not be controversial, and the community generally has no problem with systems where you can pay a flat fee to unlock things early.

By itself the design is troublesome but not exceptional. But what's going on here is that as more and more games come out with randomized loot boxes that drive progression, irritation has been building up in the community. This has played out in smaller scales in many games over the last few months, and generally there is a fear of "mobile games mechanics" taking over the console/pc space. Finally, many players and the gaming press hate EA for a variety of reasons already explained in this thread.

Combine the design and those two trends and this was basically guaranteed to be a big problem, and EA did nothing to defuse it when they had the opportunity. I was surprised that the hero unlock times ended up being what the community/press seized on to, probably because it's simple to explain unlike the star cards. Either way I'm glad this is happening because I'm not comfortable making or playing games that are this close to gambling, and I don't think it's healthy for the players or the industry in the long term.
posted by JZig at 11:45 PM on November 17, 2017 [8 favorites]


I'm starting to come around to micro-payments when done in the style of TF2: cosmetic items, and gameplay items that can be earned through playing, but most importantly, which don't effect balance (in TF2 there are new weapons, but they make an effort to balance those, so if you are new to the game and don't have any of the additional weapons you can still compete just fine). Meanwhile the continued income means that ten years after release TF2 is still getting new content.

The big killer for this game from what I've seen, is that whether you earn them through playing or buy them, the items drastically change the balance of the game, and I hate games that do that.

I can't help but feel you could make a Star Wars shooter with purely cosmetic items for purchase and make an absolute shit-ton of money while not pissing off all and sundry.
posted by markr at 12:14 AM on November 18, 2017 [2 favorites]


It's an odd thread when some people on Mefi hate on a (rather large and growing) group of people who are tired of being abused by a media conglomerate, and are labeled as 'throwing a tantrum' and 'entitled'.

Uhh, I paid for one game, I'd like one game please. I get that you want to make lots more money for 'skins' and such, but I'd just like a working game.

Pay to win already exists as real life, I don't need it in my escapist games, and, believe me, I've seen my fair share of tantrums on this site as well.
posted by efalk at 12:23 AM on November 18, 2017 [15 favorites]


It's kind of massively unfair to label this as "well, they just don't want casuals sneaking in." Really? I'm a casual gamer if there ever was one, and I'm as grossed out by these practices as anyone else. So because I'm busy, I should pay extra to experience the game like everyone else? Like, hundreds of dollars extra? As a "casual" who is, yes, pretty busy, I don't want my choices to be "pay through the nose" or "spend a long time slogging through content that is a dreary slog by design."
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 2:14 AM on November 18, 2017 [16 favorites]


If you take away monetization of DLC, and monetization of loot crates, you also take away the things that those make possible, like more and better game content.

This is a really naive statement. The amount of content you actually get in the base version of games has been plummeting for years, even prior to loot crates. Loot crates aren't funding more content, they're extra "free" money that studios are picking up by adding real-money gambling to their games.

If games need more money to have more content, studios should charge more money, not add systems that will lead to some players (a small percentage, but non-trivial) to dump incredible amounts of money into the game because it's been designed as a skinner box that extracts cash.
posted by tocts at 5:04 AM on November 18, 2017 [7 favorites]


As someone who would like to buy a cheap copy to play the single player campaign only, I encourage you all to remain as outraged as possible about this forever.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:05 AM on November 18, 2017 [5 favorites]


It's an odd thread when some people on Mefi hate on a (rather large and growing) group of people who are tired of being abused by a media conglomerate, and are labeled as 'throwing a tantrum' and 'entitled'.

I'm sorry I wasn't clear enough about EA deserving its reputation, or that people have a right to be pissed off, or a right to ask for the games that they pay for. That's not what I'm talking about.

But I'm talking about a very specific event in which a bunch of grown adults essentially had a mob internet tantrum over on reddit a few days ago, and tantrum really is the right word. I'm not talking about the general backlash and justified criticisms of EA, nor am I talking about people deciding not to buy the game.

Because the mature response definitely isn't that mob tantrum over on reddit. The mature response would be not to buy the game at all, or to boycott EA entirely. Which, frankly, people have had plenty of reasons to boycott EA over the last 25 years, including an abusive workplace. (But, nah, people don't care about that. No, they really care about having to pay to play Vader.)

The comment upthread from vogon_poet is spot on with "many of the people angry about this, especially at reddit where it started, it's the same thing motivating this and gamergate, it's just about pure id and rage".

This isn't some kind of normal fan criticism. It was a tantrum. And I'm struggling to think of any other industry (entertainment or otherwise) that has such an incredibly vocal and entitled fanbase where this kind of behavior is a regular thing. I think even pro wrestling fans and juggalos as a whole might be better behaved than modern hard core video game fans.

And it's super toxic, and for whatever reason it is accepted as the status quo and part of gaming culture. From the outside it's like watching people claim that chronic alcohol abuse and domestic violence are just part of being a fan of American football.
posted by loquacious at 5:20 AM on November 18, 2017 [3 favorites]


I just, I also somewhat get the mild ick about describing people who play video games as "a group" who have "been abused" above - immediately suggesting parallels to minority groups suffering abuse, which seem a) not apt, given that the "group" is "an extremely wide ranging set of consumers" and the "abuse" is "being offered a shitty video game", and further b) in view of gamergate and etc, actively queasy.
posted by ominous_paws at 5:28 AM on November 18, 2017


The mature response would be not to buy the game at all, or to boycott EA entirely. Which, frankly, people have had plenty of reasons to boycott EA over the last 25 years, including an abusive workplace. (But, nah, people don't care about that. No, they really care about having to pay to play Vader

while i get the criticisms which say 'this is all coming from the entitled toxic headspace of Teh Gamer Community' -- and trust me oh golly do i ever -- i'm actually thankful for the focus on 'but we can't play as luke or leia or vader,' here. because while there have been many reasons to boycott EA for a very long time, large swaths of the consumer market are unlikely to ever have heard of them. and while capital-G-Gamers are loud, there are a lot more casual players than Gamers, particularly for titles like Battlefront II, and they're not necessarily invested in these issues.

parents buying Battlefront for their kids, or more casual fans buying Battlefront for themselves, are unlikely to be conversant with EA's many instances of terribleness. they may not feel much concern over the wellbeing of game company employees, or questions of pay-to-play, or the future of game development. loot boxes and star cards and credits and crystals... it all seems pretty abstract. i would wager many purchasers of games don't even think about who published what, let along what their labour practices and design philosophies are like. (hell, a lot of parents feel like they're doing well if they buy the right version for their console.) but these buyers ARE likely to care if they can't play as luke or leia or vader, or if their kids can't. they're going to be mad. it's going to literally RUIN CHRISTMAS. if they know this going in, they're less likely to buy the game, or to buy it for their kids. that's the only way to hurt sales enough to have a boycott-level impact.
posted by halation at 5:34 AM on November 18, 2017 [4 favorites]


First, the way the star cards work is pretty random, you either have to get lucky and randomly get the ability you want or slowly grind for it with crafting. This is a really risky design because it can easily frustrate players who don't randomly get the thing they want
One of the gross things is the Kill-cam mechanic that Battlefront II has implemented. When you die, you see the other player's cards and what they have loaded up or charged up their character with. So not only did you just die, you get to see all the loot and play to pay win cards that your opponent just used to beat you with.

As an adult you're going to be angry because this is like a little shit turd icing on the crap cake, and as a young child or a teen, you're probably going to just think, "Oooh, I didn't have the golden crystal candy card. I have to get that golden crystal candy card, it's shiny and it lets you be Boba Fett. Mom? Moooooooooommmmmmmmmm!!? Where's your credit card?"

My first comment was pretty angsty and I like to think people here know me for not being that kind of gamergate bro. I post about video games a lot because I'm passionate about the community and wanting to share the joy I receive when I play a game with others.
But what's going on here is that as more and more games come out with randomized loot boxes that drive progression, irritation has been building up in the community.
But its just like JZig posted up above. We're reaching a point where the entire gaming community/culture is getting quite sick of being treated only like a walking $. And I get that I'm not entitled to the entire world, simply because I paid $70 for a video-game. But I do think it's fair to have a reasonable expectation that I'm getting a service or a product that isn't just a gateway into a larger pyramid scheme of money making. And that's what EA and many other companies are doing. They're pulling you in just enough so that they can pull you in further for more money.

And the kicker is, most of us here are adults and we understand this and we either choose to play/pay these companies knowing that we're going into something like this. But young children and teenagers lack that larger perspective, they're still maturing and their minds are still growing and they're going to see all the glitz and glamour and just want to buy in, because their friends have or because they saw something cool online and they want that too.

Ugh. It's a really gross industry in a lot of ways. I feel for people who have just walked away from it all. Either because of big companies like EA exploiting their employees and consumers. And then when you throw in the Gamergate/Bros who made up the majority of that Reddit thread who engage in dangerous/bullying tactics (abuse, assault, misogyny, etc). It's no wonder that people look at "Gamers" in such a horrid way.
posted by Fizz at 6:10 AM on November 18, 2017 [5 favorites]


If games need more money to have more content, studios should charge more money, not add systems that will lead to some players (a small percentage, but non-trivial) to dump incredible amounts of money into the game because it's been designed as a skinner box that extracts cash.

Producers know different consumers have different wants and spending thresholds, for example, the range of iPhones available, from the SE at A$549 to the X at A$1579. Apple couldn't price all their phones at A$549, nor at A$1579. Same for airlines - the huge gap in price between economy and business - yet both passengers end up in the same place. They couldn't run a plane with all business class customers, nor would they want to run a plane with only economy travelers.

A game that sells cosmetics only is probably closer to an airline (both passengers end up at the same destination). A game where you can buy functional items is probably like Apple - you are paying more for greater specs. In both cases a level of cross-subsidy is going on.

Actually I wonder how the market would receive it if EA had released it in tiered boxes - say a free to play account where you could very slowly unlock stuff and buy boxes, and a paid account which unlocked things significantly faster, and a premium account that instantly unlocks everything. People with the premium account still need to grind out cosmetics, which gives them a form of progression.
posted by xdvesper at 6:15 AM on November 18, 2017


Producers know different consumers have different wants and spending thresholds

This is kinda meaningless in the context of loot boxes. Producers aren't selling three different versions of a game at differing price points (well, they are also doing that, but it's not relevant to loot boxes). They're selling in-game gambling opportunities that allow people to pay real-world money for a chance at virtual loot. They're banking on people with addiction problems dropping a thousand bucks on virtual scratch tickets chasing a virtual hat, knowing they could never actually sell the game with a face value of a thousand bucks in a bundle with the same virtual hat.
posted by tocts at 6:25 AM on November 18, 2017 [11 favorites]


incentive to make gameplay a boring slog that you're willing to pay a lot of money to skip past

Shadow of War (a Monolith / Warner Bros game) is infected with this in what's otherwise a charming and fun game. The main quest is totally reasonable in the regular offline game progression without buying poweprups. Although even then you're being shunted into the online gambling hall from time to time to get some free rewards. You know, just a taste.

But after the main quest there's an extended play where you rank up to higher and higher fortress conquests, including competing online (non-interactively) against other players. And there, there the grind starts. Everything is gated by your character's level. And your level proceeds glacially slowly past level 40. Except if you buy a 2x XP boost, that is, just $1 an hour. It's transparently a game system designed to compel people to pay for it.

At this point complaining about games looking for an ongoing revenue stream is pissing in the wind. The AAA business has simply moved past the single-sale-and-done thing, every big company is now pursuing recurring revenue and a way to capture loose dollars from whales. I'm glad to see some serious pushback on Battlefront 2 but I fear it won't cause any real changes in the long term, not even with Battlefront 2.
posted by Nelson at 7:22 AM on November 18, 2017 [4 favorites]


Okay, but a bigger issue is, by rights this is Star Wars: Battlefront IV. The first two Star Wars: Battlefronts were great, and I'm annoyed that they started counting at one again.

Right, can someone explain that to me? Wikipedia only told me that there's some Fast and Furious nonsense going on here with the 2005 game having a colon ("Star Wars: Battlefront") and this one without ("Star Wars Battlefront"), but didn't explain what knucklehead came up with that idea.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 8:13 AM on November 18, 2017


. But I do think it's fair to have a reasonable expectation that I'm getting a service or a product that isn't just a gateway into a larger pyramid scheme of money making

For me, it's that plus the fact that I have to play online, with the generally abusive, shitty dudebro gaming culture. I don't want to be exposed to that culture; I don't want my kids exposed to it.
posted by nubs at 8:18 AM on November 18, 2017 [1 favorite]


It's an odd thread when some people on Mefi hate on a (rather large and growing) group of people who are tired of being abused by a media conglomerate, and are labeled as 'throwing a tantrum' and 'entitled'

You know it’s possible to play games and not identify as a gamer. That label is completely vountary, and at this point a pretty clear statement of your values.

Gamers ARE entitled. Moreso than any group I can think of, on a ratio of rage (incredibly, farcically high) to stakes (the lowest imaginable). Do you know what every other consumer does when a company comes out with a shitty product? They don’t buy it. There are no demands to change the product to suit their whims, there are no death threats.

Your feelings of persecution is an excellent example of this. I have several hundred console games in arms reach right now and yet my reaction to this isn’t that I belong to an oppressed group...
posted by danny the boy at 9:42 AM on November 18, 2017 [4 favorites]


As for this game I think the ArsTechnica coverage really hit the nail on the head—this isn’t really about micro transactions. Other games have lots of that and work fine. But other games start you at close to the mathematical maximum, and unlockables only change play style or cosmetics. The experience of a new BF2 player is that you get destroyed by high level players who have a mathematical advantage over you. You see other people playing the game you wanted to play, and can only have it through lots of grinding or paying more.
posted by danny the boy at 9:47 AM on November 18, 2017 [1 favorite]


I'm especially pissed at EA for doing this while releasing Mass Effect: Andromeda as a half-finished game and then bailing on the series, or cancelling a Star Wars title with a sophisticated single-player narrative and then shuttering the studio.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:34 PM on November 18, 2017 [1 favorite]


I can see how it must be tempting as a big game publisher, to want to milk your customers for everything you can. They must be so pissed off that MMOs never seem to stick anymore, beyond World of Warcraft. You look at that, as a financial person in gaming, and you see that some of that game's loyal players have, individually, probably sunk over $1000 into it by now. Then you look at another online multiplayer game like Star Wars Battlefront 2, which they expect players to sink hours and hours into? Of course they're going to try and get more than $60 from them, using whatever methods necessary. It must make them absolutely crazy that they can see that under certain conditions, gamers will keep dumping money into one game over years and that they can't replicate that. The people at Blizzard have to be shaking their heads that players are still paying around $14 a month for a 13 year old game (and paying for expansions when they come out).

And yes, gamers will scream and moan when they are presented with a shit sandwich they are expected to eat, but they will eat that sandwich every time. Why would EA change their ways if they're still selling their product? Maybe this commotion combined with the Mass Effect Andromeda debacle will shake things up, but it's easy to see how it might not.

I myself took at least a bite of that Andromeda shit sandwich, but at least I waited until it was half price. I should have avoided it entirely after reading all the terrible reviews.
posted by picea at 2:48 PM on November 18, 2017


"You can only call someone a Real Gamer if they come from the Gamer region of France. Anything else is just sparkling whine." - @NormalMode
posted by straight at 6:42 PM on November 18, 2017 [8 favorites]


Games, for a lot of people, are the only systems they interact with that actually want them to win. Yeah, they're challenges, but they're challenges meant to be triumphed over. Not always, sure, but not never.

That's not universal. That's not even common. "Life ain't fair" is true but imagine you could spend time in a universe where, if life wasn't fair, that was a bug and somebody would change the way the universe worked to fix it.

The real world is sort of a place where you can pay to win. A lot of people are trying to get away from that. If people seem entitled, I think it's more that they're afraid. With some reason, frankly.
posted by effugas at 7:27 PM on November 18, 2017 [5 favorites]


And yes, gamers will scream and moan when they are presented with a shit sandwich they are expected to eat, but they will eat that sandwich every time.

WHY! This is the part I don't get. EA is not a utility where your life will be at extreme inconvenience without it. It's not a monopoly where you have no alternative products.There are a lot of other games out there too.

Gamers, listen to Lord Humungous: Just walk away.
posted by FJT at 8:23 AM on November 19, 2017


They are a monopoly for Star Wars shooter games though.
posted by Nelson at 8:33 AM on November 19, 2017 [2 favorites]


And I think for a lot of Gamers, buying a video game (and I realize this may sound odd to some) is a type of prestige signifier. To display to others in their community, “Look, see I'm playing the HOT NEW GAME and I'm relevant and it's fun and I'm having fun and you're not because you don't have it.”

Also, so much of gaming is on-line these days and the community will shift from one game to another. Try going back to play an online shooter from 2 years ago and see how big the multiplayer community is. Again, I think a lot of this is about "cool kid" syndrome and having to be on the inside of whatever new trendy thing is happening in the community.

Maybe I'm off but that's my take and read on it.
posted by Fizz at 2:08 PM on November 19, 2017


type of prestige signifier

and in-game unlockables are just an extension of this, which is why people will pay to unlock things despite loudly complaining about hating the system. and people will purchase a game right when it comes out even when they know it will have the hated mechanics, and will immediately pay for the unlockables, because cracking into the higher tiers of players gets harder the longer you wait. if you take the time to grind, rather than pay, you'll never catch up, and the rest of your time in that game community will be full of 'git gud scrub' taunts, because of the advantages early-adopting pay-to-play competitors will have over you. you'll lose whatever social capital you have in the community, and for a fair number of people, that is their community -- there's not much offline to compensate for that loss.

so much of gaming is on-line these days and the community will shift from one game to another.

this is also important, i think, and runs along the same lines as the 'but i can't quit twitter/facebook/instagram, all my friends are there and they'd never talk to me again' arguments people make when they decide to stay on a social media platform even though they don't trust it or don't like it, way after it's stopped being fun or even pleasant. if you primarily or only talk to your friends in-game, or in forums about a given game, you will lose them if you don't follow them, and that means buying the game.
posted by halation at 3:32 PM on November 19, 2017 [2 favorites]


Fizz I think the correlation is the other way around, people want to be part of a community, and a community is only sustainable in the long run if the game can capture their attention in the long run. Good games can do it, poor games can't.

"Try going back to play an online shooter from 2 years ago" - well there is Counter-Strike... I was playing that in 1999 starting in beta 4.0 and it still easily draws over half a million concurrent players today, assuming players play an hour a day, that's still 12 million people who play each day.

Star Wars Battlefront is a very different sort of game, it's more akin to a cinematic movie experience, you have fun for a few months then the community moves onto the next game, and you know how short lived the community is, so you have to get in early... pretty much exactly like watching the premier of a big movie release, rather than waiting for the DVD release...
posted by xdvesper at 3:45 PM on November 19, 2017


Fizz I think the correlation is the other way around, people want to be part of a community, and a community is only sustainable in the long run if the game can capture their attention in the long run. Good games can do it, poor games can't.

"Try going back to play an online shooter from 2 years ago" - well there is Counter-Strike...


You're right. There are a handful of these games that survive and manage to retain their community: Counter-Strike, League of Legends, World of Warcraft, to name a few.

But I think there's also an entire community of gamers that will just move from one gimicky FPS to the next: Titanfall 2 > Battlefield 1 > Destiny 2 > Call of Duty WWII > ... ...

There will be some other NEW HOTNESS that people feel "compelled" to be a part of because their friends are a part of it. And some of these games (not all) have such a short life span. Which just goes back to your comment about how good games can hold on to their audience/crowd.

I think though that's also a different subset of gamers. I know some gamers who only play one or two games and those one or two games, they play hard. I have a buddy who ONLY plays Overwatch and Rocket League and that's it.

I think there are a certain segment of gamers who just wander from one big thing to the next, and these are the ones that are shelling out money time and time again and who feel as if they have a right to bitch and complain about things not meeting their expectations. Not realizing that they're voting with their dollars and if they were a bit more cautious, a bit more careful in their purchasing, they might not find themselves so poor and so frustrated.
posted by Fizz at 5:39 PM on November 19, 2017


Rock Paper Shotgun has their thoughtful multiplayer review. The progression system indeed sucks, even in this interim period of no microtransactions. Because instead you're hoping for random useful drops. Also there's still pay-to-win infecting the game.
It makes the removal of paid-for loot crates seem rather insignificant – I’m still being killed by people who are using items that I don’t have access to. It is, in fact, even worse: buying the deluxe edition guarantees that you will get some useful max-level Star Cards. Whenever I get killed by a level four thermal detonator, I know my murderer has either gotten a lucky loot crate drop or has – as is more likely – paid for the privilege.
posted by Nelson at 9:37 AM on November 21, 2017 [2 favorites]


Battlefront 2 loot crates draw lawmakers’ attention in US, Belgium [Polygon]
“Lawmakers in Hawaii’s state legislature and the Belgian government have both indicated a desire to investigate and regulate loot crates and in-game transactions in video gaming, if not ban the practice outright as illegal gambling. In Hawaii yesterday, Reps. Chris Lee and Sean Quinlan held a news conference that assailed loot crates as preying on children, naming Star Wars Battlefront 2 specifically. The game launched on Friday, and a day before publisher Electronic Arts suspended in-game transactions in light of the controversy surrounding loot crate systems.”

Highlights of the EA predatory behavior announcement [YouTube]
I'm glad that legislators are paying attention. Maybe some regulation will be set in place to prevent this from getting worse and more abusive than it already is.
posted by Fizz at 8:48 AM on November 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


Battlefront 2 players are using rubber bands on their controls so that the game registers them as being present so that credits are given.
posted by nubs at 6:33 PM on November 26, 2017


From that article on legislation:

Update: The Entertainment Software Association says loot boxes are not gambling, per a statement the ESA provided to Polygon this afternoon. The ESA noted the dual functions of loot boxes in the games cited above: that some are earned for free and some are purchased; and that loot boxes can either aid with player progression or provide optional content, or both.

Ha. Haha. Hahaha.

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

Ahem.

That is all.
posted by tocts at 6:08 PM on November 27, 2017


« Older I'm so sorry. He forced me to make this post.   |   "The interior is a world of aesthetic chaos" Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments