With the recent outrage over the microtransactions in Battlefront II coming off its peak, I felt it necessary that I analyze what EA was attempting to do and what their plan is going forward.
And why this game will never be worth your money.
Multiplayer: A ‘Grind or Buy’/’Pay 2 Win’ Hybrid
Nobody who played the original Battlefront II (2005) were a stranger to the multiplayer aspects of the game. I have fond memories of picking up the game from Target at a young age, and sinking countless hours into it. Our other blogger, RFS, would play Galactic Conquest during breaks while writing his first screenplay. It blew my mind that I could set up a battle in any way I pleased, in any era, on any world, with any game mode I wanted. And I didn’t even need friends to play it! And that’s what made it so appealing and why it’s still playable today, it was immersive and made you really feel like you were a part of the battle you were currently fighting in.
When the first EA Battlefront in 2015 rolled around, it was revealed that the game would lack a campaign aspect. It was a reason to raise eyebrows, but as long as the multiplayer matched up to the original games, we were certainly in for a hell of a ride. But as the game was further revealed, it became more and more obvious that the game was simply rushed for a co-release with The Force Awakens. It only contained one era (The Galactic Civil War), few maps and planets at launch, and a culmination of one of the most barebones AAA releases I’ve seen in a while. The season pass content continued to add more to the game, but ultimately, the game never recovered its player base due to a simple lack of content.
This new release, however, was revealed with a marketing campaign that placed a lot of emphasis on new things with the game that curbed worries with the Battlefront release in 2015. A new campaign set shortly after Return of the Jedi was certainly reason to celebrate. We also got a game that spanned all three eras of Star Wars, with the reveal of Yoda and Darth Maul as playable heroes as well as a Clone Wars era battle set on Naboo. All the while, it was revealed that the game would have no season pass and all DLC would be free for all players. It seemed at every turn EA had listened to fans and were making sure the game was the Battlefront game we all wanted. But once again, Electronic Arts (voted the worst company in America in 2012 and 2013) managed to find a way to empty your pockets like a mugging in the streets of Mos Eisley. But this was something much worse and much more sinister than anything they’ve done in the past. It was no longer about shelling out money for extra content, or shelling out money for DLC that should’ve been in the base game. It became a pay-to-win scenario.
This pay-to-win system is built on top of an already existent system that was present in mobile gaming, and that’s what I like to call ‘buy or grind’. Mobile games use this method to extort cash from their players. When you first begin the game, it hooks you by quickly getting you certain items/characters unlocked through gameplay, thus bringing on a sense of accomplishment. However, as you play further, it becomes much more of a grind to progress past a certain level or unlock a certain character. This is one part of the system Battlefront II uses to get money out of you. As I kept playing the multiplayer, it became abundantly clear that unlocking new cards and heroes was slower than molasses. It certainly discourages you from playing any further. Nonetheless, if this was the only issue, it could be fixed rather easily with updates. However, the second half of the system requires the first half, and that’s a pay-to-win scenario. There are two types of players that will buy microtransactions in a game. The first type are already planning on buying microtransactions in the first place. The second type will do so to speed up their grind, and considering how grind-y Battlefront II is, EA was counting on this bringing in a lot of cash. So now, anyone who doesn’t wanna pay further than the $60 they have already paid is at risk of playing against someone who did drop extra money, putting them at a severe disadvantage. Not even mobile games sunk this far; usually those are much more single-player oriented. Sure, someone can still pay and progress much quicker, but you don’t have to face them one-on-one to progress yourself. But this system EA tried to put together made it almost mandatory that you pay up.
EA’s Plan Moving Forward
With the spark of outrage that made its way into mainstream media outlets, EA has removed the ability to buy crystals to unlock crates for now. There is no reason to celebrate just yet, for a couple of reasons. First of all, it is abundantly clear that this system was EA’s way of funding the game. They weren’t gonna get any profit (outside of game purchases) from DLC, so this loot box system was their way of providing more content for the game. The microtransactions are not going anywhere any time soon. Second of all, EA has already announced that the microtransactions will make a return, just in a reworked manner.
What this ‘reworked’ system is going to be, we are in the dark. It could very well follow the model that the Blizzard game Overwatch follows, which is a cosmetic-only loot box system. The trade-off here is, players will be less compelled to buy crates if they feel it doesn’t provide them an advantage in multiplayer. This is why I feel it’s possible that EA is pulling microtransactions for now, until the outrage can simmer over and they can reintroduce it with a slight reworking to simmer it even further. The general public has a shorter attention span than the game will last.
I cannot see any scenario where EA isn’t trying to get more money out of buyer’s pockets with this game.
Why You Still Shouldn’t Buy This Game
I can only speculate at this point what the reworked loot crate system will be. But I ultimately came to the conclusion that it’s still not worth your time to buy this game. The grind of the multiplayer is simply not fun after a day. The entire framework of the game is based around trying to get money out of you with the loot crates. As I continued playing the multiplayer, I noticed that my personal goals were unlocking cards and heroes. And with the long and tiring grind to get these, what exactly was I playing the multiplayer for? Sure, you can get enjoyment out of simply winning battles and immersing yourself in the Star Wars universe, but ultimately, the novelty wears off rather quickly. Younger children will probably find more enjoyment in it for longer, but I can see even older children becoming bored with the game rather quickly. Simply put, the assets of the game run shallow. And with the free content for the game becoming doubtful due to outrage over the microtransaction system, your guess is as good as mine as to where EA is taking this game.
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