EA responds to Star Wars Battlefront II micropayment systems, again (updated)

Update November 14, 2017: EA has responded to this controversy by slicing the cost of heroes by 75%. Original article below.

I've written about my displeasure with Star Wars Battlefront II's egregious progression systems before, which incentivize and encourage spending on randomly-generated loot crates in order to progress, but since the game's beta, a couple of things have changed.

First of all, regardless of how much cash you spend on loot crates in Battlefront II, you will be gated by a global level in order to level up your cards, and thus, your power, putting a limiting factor on the "pay to win" nature the game seemed to present in its previous beta. Read all about that over here.

However, now that Battlefront II is in a trial period via EA Access, we've gotten a glimpse at the full breadth of its systems. Oh boy.

It turns out that you can circumvent the global ranking gates through sheer luck, getting higher-level cards out of packs you pay for, without earning them through play. Some of the higher-level abilities cut cool down speeds by half, grant extra defensive skills, and even provide faster access to more powerful hero classes in battle, granting non-trivial advantages. Essentially, you will always have an advantage in Battlefront II if you pony up extra cash. That's just one reason why people are currently angry, though.

Eventually, people realized that to gain access to certain heroes, such as Darth Vader, you'd have to spend tens of thousands of in-game credits for the privilege. A loot crate for character progression generally costs up to 4000 credits, and in each multiplayer battle, you generally earn around 200-400 credits, boosted by the odd challenge completion. Generally speaking, though, the progression system essentially asks you to choose between advancing your base classes, or saving up to gain access to some of the franchise's most iconic heroes. Or well, you know, spending money on the game's loot crates for additional credits.

"Take your loot crate! Strike me down with all your pay to win abilities, and your journey towards the dark side will be complete."

"Take your loot crate! Strike me down with all your pay to win abilities, and your journey towards the dark side will be complete."

Redditors have worked out that you actually get less credits for playing objectives and winning, than you do for purposefully dragging out the length of a battle, which just makes it sound as though these systems were shovelled in with reckless abandon rather than consideration for how they might affect regular play. Another redditor worked out that it takes around 40 hours of playing multiplayer to unlock a single hero. EA is effectively punishing those with limited free for not buying loot crates in this instance, which don't even guarantee credit accrual.

EA has responded to the various criticisms, although the community doesn't seem particularly placated, given that this comment has hundreds of downvotes.

Update, November 13, 2017: EA's response now has hundreds of thousands of downvotes, making it the most downvoted comment in reddit history. Impressive.

Our goal involves creating a compelling progression path for all of our players. There's a lot of content at launch with even more coming via live service, and we'll continuously adjust our progression mechanics to give players a sense of accomplishment as they explore all of Battlefront 2.Heroes earned through Credits: The intent is to provide players with a sense of pride and accomplishment for unlocking different heroes. 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.Credits Earned: We're looking at the results daily and will be continuing to tune this to ensure that players feel a meaningful sense of reward for the time they spend with Battlefront 2.We appreciate the conversation here, and our team is working to make the best choices possible for the game and the players. We will provide more details and updates as we can.

I appreciate that Battlefront II will have a live service, delivering additional content that won't split the player base in the same way a season pass or map pack system would, but these systems are far too exploitative and aggressive. Overwatch has very firmly proven that you can have a purely cosmetic system that doesn't punish players through gameplay disadvantages, locking content behind incentives to pony up additional cash.

We're not part of the review program for Star Wars Battlefront II, so I'm quite happy to say from our time with the trial that the game is amazing. It's stunningly gorgeous, the gameplay is tight and satisfying, and the creators at DICE have truly elevated the idea of what a Star Wars game can be. For EA to squander it all by punishing regular gamers to chase high rollers is just... depressing.

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

  • Sucks. It would probably take me 2 months to put in 40 hours. So after two months! I can finally unlock another hero. Smh. I can't afford to be nickel and dimed with these stupid transactions either. I liked when we used to buy a full game without any strings attached.
  • Those games were mostly single player and fire-and-forget software.
    It is only natural, that developers and publishers look into post release monetizing nowadays, where running a studio has become much more expensive and offsetting the earnings of a release to have the next one secured, is no longer guaranteed
  • we can all blame mobile games for ruining these games. "hey candy crush is making a killing selling items to help you beat the levels that are always 1-2 moves from completion", "( $ . $) publisher eyes lighting up with money", "arite guys, implement that into the multiplayer of X game. p2w ftw!"
  • Okay. Unlocking the heroes is now a lot more manageable. At least they are listening to the community.
  • Fine, fine. If people want, they get it and deserve it. I have no problems with ignoring such titles, it is a free-to-play title with better graphics in my eyes. Overwatch and Marvel Heroes are two nice games and after playing many hours with them I like their system of micropayment the most.
  • There is no good microtransactions/lootbox in a full price game.  This is NOT good for gaming. It is not "fine". Majortiy of people probably DON'T want this. 
  • Guess I'm never buying this game. Ill also be taking EA into consideration when buying anything else they may publish.
  • I hear you, and I was REALLY looking forward to this game. With Andromeda, that's two disappointments this year, as if I already didn't hate EA enough already.
  • The real question is though when are all these negativity and bad press actually going to translate into something that actually hurts the company. EA have been voted the worst company twice in a row in the past, yet they are still do financially extremely well. I suspect it will be all the same with this loot box issue, they will just ignore all the criticism and go ahead with it. And gamers will still buy their game anyway regardless. 
  • I think they and other companies are looking at this. If there is enough negativity I think things will eventually change...
  • don't buy it, just use MS search rewards to get it free.
  • haha, someone down voted getting games completely free with search rewards points
  • That's it I'm not buying this game ever. They should have just made the game free 2 play.
  • This is disgusting and predatory. I can't believe EA would go to such lengths to destroy what looks like a phenomenal looking and playing game.
  • Fudge off EA
  • I hope anthem don't have any of this BS when released
  • I am with you on this, Holding out for Anthem now as there is no way I will be getting this game for my son with all these micro transactions. Such a shame as the game looks glorious.
  • If you want Anthem to not have any of this then seriously people really need to boycott Battlefront II so it flops. Because if Battlefront II becomes a success, there is without a doubt EA will go loot box crazy in Anthem.
  • the one difference is i'm hoping the single player in Star Wars will be a great game; great story.  and that couch co-op will be really fun.  Don't care about the online multi.   Anthem won't have that.
  • I didn't buy the first battlefront because of the complete lack of content. Now it looks like I won't buy the second because of this. Thanks EA...
  • I won't buy the second because of this. Wont buy because pay to unlock the content. Smh such a polished game but paying to get small items even as cosmetics, emotes, and is just damn pathetic all in the glory to "give sense of pride and accomplishment."  This feels more and more like the disatrious case of "For Honor" and look where that game went to.
  • Eff off EA!
  • The loot crates are awful in Forza 7, so I'm really disappointed that a Star Wars game is going to rely so heavily on them.
  • Loot boxes and no bonus by changing difficulty and assists made me cancel my ultimate edition pre-order. But we won, they reversed the VIP scam.
  • Winning would be removing all microtransactions and loot boxes in full price games. It was a small victory in a battle, but the war is far from won...
  • Another game I won't buy this year, yeah!!! By the look of it, I can even cancel my EA Access subscription now that all their games make no sense to even play. They are managing to make a 25$ a year not even a good deal anymore. Well done!
  • EA sucks
  • No AAA £50 game should have micropayments. EVER.
  • Rubbish article. I made 26,000 credits without even trying. EA is adding weekly challenges with decent credit payouts. I played the early access and when you actually do the challenges it is super easy to earn bonus credits, just like in the first game. The gameplay in this game is far more impressive and 6 of the characters, including Rey, Yoda, Kylo Ren and Darth Maul are already unlocked to begin with. Microtransactions only allow the purchase of loot crates (which nobody opens for the credits), and rare star cards are very unlikely drops from loot crates, meaning that pro players can still easily overtake people who spend money on the game. In fact, EA addressed this yesterday and said they're improving the credit payouts at the end of each match for those who get more kills and do the most work for the team.
  • Agreed. Sometimes I feel the community overreacts a little bit to less than 'perfect' games (Mass Effect Andromeda uncomfortably comes to mind here). BF2 is a great game guys, yes there are loot crates or whatever, but you'll still have a blast with the base game and a lot of fun. It'll be sad to see such enormous backlash sink the battlefront franchise or put it on indefinite hiatus. Just skip whatever microtransactions offered if you're not interested and have a great time, there's a lot to explore without getting unduly worked up over this stuff.
  • Andromeda is far from an overreaction. They have literally already stopped supporting the game. I will try this game eventually, and hopefully I will enjoy it. I do hate the direction the industry is turning, but this is what the people want.
  • @Avatar of Apathy "but this is what the people want." I really doubt this is what people want. I really doubt most people want microtransactions/lootbox/pay2win...  In most forums, discussion board, polls, people are either against it or "don't mind it". Very few people actually support and want it. Even here the 2 people who defend the game and EA didn't say they wanted microtransactions/loot box... Neither told us why and how this is great for gaming.  I'm not saying no one wants it. There are some who will want it but I believe (just like free2play games) the percentage of people supporting it is very small. Not more than 5-10%. Right now it's mostly these companies who are forcing it and trying to make it an industry standard... It's really up to us to fight. This type of article is brilliant....
  • "Rubbish article" you obviously didn't read. I addressed pretty much every point you made. Nice try though?
  • I get the rear of being exploited but you have to remember there are gamers like me who look forward to the team play mechanics and skill progression in games like this. I particularly don't care about cosmetics or getting easy kills (heroes). So this doesn't affect me and many others one bit. I fear the exaggerated bad press will sway some weaker minds however who have difficulty thinking for themselves
  • @Jf.Vigor Again Jf.Vigor, you said the famous "I don't mind it". Now tell us why is it good for us gamers? How is this ANY good for gaming? There is NOTHING exaggerated here. If anything there should be MUCH more. More articles, more criticism. I think review scores should get an automatic -20% (no matter how good the game is) if they are full priced game and have microtransactions/loot boxes a further -10% depending how bad it is. This is getting out of control and is changing gaming as we know it. And you guys want us to do and say nothing?
  • @Jez I really got to thank you for the article. I think the gaming media should really deal with this problem and help gaming...
  • @aaa5f and Kaymd
    The funny part is even with all your damage control for a company you and Kaymd didn't say anything positive about microtransactions and loot box... You didn't say ANYTHING about how it is a good thing for gaming. Rubbish article? I bet you didn't even read it. lol
  • "EA has responded to the various criticisms, although the community doesn't seem particularly placated, given that this comment has hundreds of downvotes." Heh, another comment has well over 80k downvotes as of the writing of this: https://www.reddit.com/r/StarWarsBattlefront/comments/7cff0b/seriously_i... I wouldn't be surprised if it hit 100k soon. Either way, it's the most downvoted comment in Reddit history by a large margin. Just EA being EA...
  • Haha wow
  • Thanks. I just registered to downvote. :) Edit: It's now -467k. 
  • Yeah, it's almost at -640k now. I amend my previous statement: now I wouldn't be surprised if it hit 1M downvotes eventually. A bunch of other recent comments from the same account are also heavily downvoted, and by my calculations it's now responsible for 7 of the top 10 most downvoted comments in Reddit history (cf. this table). Yes, obviously it's being brigaded to some extent, people are downvoting just to be a part of it, but the level of ire EA have managed to draw upon themselves is still beyond impressive.
  • The way to keep both systems is to give significantly more credits as a reward to those who actually play the game. They could then charge extortionate real world prices for a minimal amount of credits for those willing to pay to win. Better yet, remove microtransactions altogether and force people to play the game instead of cheating by using pay to win tactics.
  • I agree with you!
  • Guess i will not be buying the game. I feel a premium game worth 60 dollars should not require me to spend cash or penalise me for not playing every free moment I have.
  • I will probably get it when it's on EA Access but ONLY for the Campaign mode, multiplayer can go f!$% itself and take the microtransactions with it!!!!
  • I'm waiting for all of these games companies to get hammered for gambling, since that's essentially what this is. You're paying money for a randomized chance of "winning" something. Will be interesting to see what happens.
  • Stopped buying EA games years ago. I'm not surprised they haven't changed.
  • look, you work hard at your real life job, you just want to sit down and buy a star wars hero.  that's a great sense of accomplishment after a long days' work
  • You updated this article to say their comment had hundreds of thousands of downvotes, but it's only at -13.4k ...
  • It's -467k Right now.
  • EA can jump in a lake, and DICE can get tied to their ankle and a very large rock.
  • This is very important for gaming.  It goes way beyond any silly console war. It goes above preference and how much you like certain companies. It is NOT just a EA thing. It also includes Activision, MS, Ubisoft, Warner Bros... For those who have been gaming for a long time we have seen how DLC have come and become a industry standard. 
    We have seen how now we are expected to pay money to play online on console. 
    We have seen how slowly microtransactions in full price game has become common thing.
    We have seen how "paying for demos", "getting a game late if you don't pay money", "vaious silver/gold version of game", "season pass" that doesn't give all content,... So how do we fight this?
    1) Criticise, trash ALL companies doing it no matter which company or game. I like naughty dog and last of us but I'll totally trash them if they implement microtransactions and loot boxes in their story based game.
    Go to the company forums, complain on twitter. Make other aware of the problem.
    2) Do not damage control. That's the worst thing that can be done. I've seen so many company "fans" defending it by sayinng "I don't mind it" or "Just don't buy it". Unless you actually support microtransactions and want them. You can post your reasons. If you're only going to damage control because you're a company "fan", stfu. 
    3) Boycott the game if possible. This will hit these big company financially. They will think twice implementing the bs in their next game. If you really must buy the game, trying buying it used but please NEVER buy this microtransactions. Whenever they frustrate you and are tempted to take a short cut by paying, think that they have won and that all future games will be made to frustrate you in a same way. I really wish we had more articles like this. Also it would be great if review scores should get an automatic -20% (no matter how good the game is) if a full priced game has microtransactions/loot boxes a further -10% depending how bad it is. Here is a nice video about loot box and how much things as changed this year:
    https://youtu.be/NLDid1UNyg8?t=78 The year of the loot box
    It's quite interesting that between 2007 to overwatch last year
    there were 14 games. Between Overwatch to now there are 24 games having loot box bs. If anyone like microtransactions or loot box and support it, please reply me. I want to have a mature conversation...