After fan outcry, EA kicks real-money purchases out of Battlefront II
Just hours before Star Wars Battlefront II‘s retail launch Friday, Electronic Arts and developer DICE announced that they are “turning off all in-game purchases… and all progression will be earned through gameplay.” The surprise announcement promises the ability to purchase in-game crystals (used to purchase randomized loot boxes filled with in-game items) will return “at a later date,” but “only after we’ve made changes to the game.”
“As we approach the worldwide launch, it’s clear that many of you feel there are still challenges in the design,” DICE General Manager Oskar Gabrielson writes. “We’ve heard the concerns about potentially giving players unfair advantages. And we’ve heard that this is overshadowing an otherwise great game. This was never our intention. Sorry we didn’t get this right.”
Venturebeat cites “sources familiar with the situation” in reporting that the major change comes after Electronic Arts CEO Andrew Wilson conducted a phone call with Disney CEO Bob Iger about the game. EA acquired the lucrative exclusive rights to publish Star Wars-based games in 2013, a year after Disney purchased Lucasfilm for $4 billion.
The late gameplay change comes after a week of increasing furor over the Battlefront II‘s in-game economy, which included microtransactions that many felt created a “pay to win” problem for the online multiplayer competition. Many players also bristled at the sheer amount of gameplay time required to unlock many of BFII’s most coveted characters and features, a state of affairs that’s unaffected by the removal of real-money purchases in the game. While EA lowered the cost of all in-game items by 75 percent earlier this week, a simultaneous reduction in the amount of in-game currency that can be earned through single-player gameplay somewhat blunted the impact of those lower costs.
In a Reddit AMA session last night, three DICE developers promised they would be “looking at data continually and make adjustments to make things as balanced as possible” and that “there’s not much in the game that we wouldn’t revisit to improve the game for as many players as possible.” Apparently, the entire concept of in-game purchases was subject to that revisitation, even before EA and DICE had any data from the game’s actual release to look at.
A limited trial version of Battlefront II has been available through EA Access since last week, and those who purchased the Special Edition have had full access for a few days. EA didn’t directly address the fate of items earned through real-money crystal purchases by those players, who would seemingly continue to have a leg up on the competition for the time being.
We’ll have much more to say about Battlefront II as a game (and not just a place to purchase digital Star Wars items) in our review tomorrow.
Author Kyle Orland