In less than a week after the release of developer Electronic Arts much anticipated follow up to its massively successful, yet universally panned, Star Wars Battlefront, it's sequel Star Wars Battlefront 2 is seeing even more trouble. For those of you not caught up with recent events, gamers worldwide were outraged by the time it would take to unlock a single character in game on top of the massive amount of "pay to win" and microtransaction schemes that seemed more appropriate for a free to play game rather than a $60-$80 product. Developer Electronic Arts addressed concerns and publicly announced that they will be removing any and all microtransactions from the game temporarily after earning the most downvoted comment in Reddit history among other things shareholders never want to hear. Temporary being the big concern for many consumers as its unknown when or what EA plans on doing with the game moving forward.
Now that Star Wars Battlefront 2 has been out for a little under a week and players are finally getting to experience their concerns first hand, things are looking bleak for what was arguably the years biggest video game release and even more so for one of the industries biggest publishers. For the sake of this article, I will address the 3 biggest stories happening at the time of this writing.
LucasArts Speaks About Star Wars Battlefront 2
While there have been reports of Disney getting on the line with Electronic Arts regarding the situation of Star Wars Battlefront 2, recently the first public remarks have come from the Disney owned LucasArts regarding the situation in a statement to the Washington Post from a spokesman:
“Star Wars has always been about the fans — and whether it’s ‘Battlefront’ or any other Star Wars experience, they come first. That’s why we support EA’s decision to temporarily remove in-game payments to address fan concerns.”
This would seem to coincide with Disney's concerns over the situation, especially as pressure from other organizations and major media coverage (CNN has also covered it) have not put the game, and hence the Star Wars IP, in the best light.
Government Authorities Are Looking Into If Loot Boxes Are Gambling Or Not
Recently European government authorities have expressed interest in investigating if loot boxes are considered a game of chance or gambling. While this is still in the early stages of government intervention, it shows how big of a deal loot boxes have become if gambling and gaming commissions have to look into them like this. This is still in the early phases of investigation and the Netherlands gaming authority has said that "We are still in a research phase." and that they will not name any specific titles, it can be assumed that games such as Star Wars Battlefront 2, Call of Duty WW2, and Overwatch are definitely on their radar.
The Dutch are far from the only government to be looking into it in Europe either. Recently, the Belgian gambling authority began looking at them citing Star Wars Battlefront 2 as a major topic, as well as Activision-Blizzard's Overwatch. Additionally, a French Senator has presented a letter to the French Gambling Authority inquiring about it (English translation of the letter is available here thanks to Reddit user ArtFunkel).
In a recent statement to Eurogamer, publisher EA claimed, "The crate mechanics of Star Wars Battlefront 2 are not gambling". Gambling commissions or not, it's a big deal when a government feels the need to intervene on a business model for digital goods and only time will tell where this leads.
EA Claims Battlefront 2's Microtransaction Change Will Not Affect Earnings
In one of the more unexpected headlines to come out of recent Star Wars Battlefront 2 news, publisher Electronic Arts claims that even after stripping all microtransactions temporarily from the game, its expected to still reach sales and earnings projections and that amid concerns from investors, microtransactions are not a major part of the games earning potential. In an official statement from EA to investors,
"This change is not expected to have a material impact on EA’s fiscal year 2018 financial guidance."
This statement raises concern about when the loot boxes and the game's hard currency are due to return (and in what form), but until anything official happens this is all speculation.
What may impact earnings is what appears to be a drop in sales. In the UK, reports have come out that sales of the physical release of Star Wars Battlefront 2 are 60% down from the first Battlefront and 50% down compared to last years Battlefield 1. While there has been a growing trend towards less physical sales as discussed more in that article, this decrease massively outpaces that decline of degree.
It Currently Takes Around 24 Hours of Gameplay to Unlock Every Character
According to this reddit thread posted by a user named holyang31, it takes about 24 hours of gameplay to unlock every character in the game if they spend all their in-game rewards on that. This is surprisingly welcome when compared to previous reports of the game taking almost 4600 hours (roughly 200 days) worth of game time to unlock everything and up to 40 hours to unlock a single character, which of course could be evaded if one was willing to spend around $2100 in loot boxes. This is an improvement on the games progression system and hopefully remains consistent when EA re-enables their hard currency in the future, as well as expanding to other segments of the game. It is however, the only segment of gameplay that has thus been decreased - meaning much of the game grind is still implemented there for things like Star Cards.
Things aren't looking too good for the game this video editor was most excited about in a year full of incredible games, and while I'm still certain that EA is going to bring back the microtransactions and hard currency sooner than later, I'm happy to see a developer try to right their wrongs and fix an otherwise awesome game. Alex Parker and I get more in-depth on this topic and many more in this weeks inaugural TechRaptor weekly News Update video, check it out below!
After all the "fixes" in Battlefront 2 do you still see yourself getting the game? Are you playing it now? If so, is it enjoyable? Do you plan on picking up the game at a later date? Let us know in the comments below!