In the past week, major drama risen with the dawn of Star Wars Battlefront II. EA’s integration of micro-transactions and loot boxes has caught the attention of the world and been receiving major backlash from gamers and non-gamers alike.

It all began with a simple Reddit post by u/MBMMaverick questioning the locking of iconic heroes such as Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader behind an 80,000 credit grind or, if players are so inclined, a series micro-transactions which will help speed up the process. The developer response of “The intent is to provide players with a sense of pride and accomplishment for unlocking different heroes” would then become the most downvoted comment in Reddit’s history and start the flames for the Rebellion.

Reddit’s most downvoted comment

Another Redditor, u/TheHotterPotato sought out to calculate how long hero unlocks could take on average. It was then discovered that a 60,000 credit hero would take ~40 hours to unlock. Youtuber YongYea took these statistics a step further, discovering that a whopping 173 hours of gameplay would be needed before all heroes could be unlocked.

 

This rapid discovery launched outcries not only from gamers the media as well. Backlash was strong enough to force EA into cutting back the costs of heroes by 75%, lowering the required hours to obtain all to just over 43 hours. But all is not balanced in the force, as EA also lowered the campaign rewards by 75% dragging a 20,000 credit reward down to 5,000. Furthermore, a daily limit was also imposed on credits earned through the arcade mode leaving multiplayer and card duplicates from loot boxes as the only sources of credits.

Reduced hero costs

As the story gained more traction not only in gaming news outlets but also in mainstream media, EA was slowly being pushed back into the corner, forced to make a move. And they did. In an apology statement to their fans and customers EA has temporarily turned off microtransactions.

 

Thus, is the story so far. But does it truly end there?

 

Firstly let’s take a look at EA’s decision to turn off micro-transactions. While it is a triumph for us consumers, it is only in the short term as EA does aim to bring them back in the future. EA states that an updated micro-transactions system will account for two types of players: those that want traditional progression and those who want an “accelerated experience”. Though we don’t know in what exact form they will return, we can only hope that they won’t make or break the game

Other game developers have decided to comment on the situation. CD Projekt RED, creator of the Wtcher trilogy, have promised that no micro-transactions of any form will be present in their upcoming game Cyberpunk 2077. Blizzard decided to take to Twitter to share their views, going so far as to roast EA as part of their free-to-play announcement for StarCraft 2.

The most critical outcome howver, is the result of the Belgian Gaming Commission’s inquiry into whether loot boxes. The Commission has come to a conclusion that the “mixing of money and addiction is gambling”. Belgium’s Minister of Justice Koen Geens adds to this in saying “Mixing gambling and gaming, especially at a young age, is dangerous for the mental health of the child”. Geens aims to have loot boxes banned not only in Belgium but in other countries across Europe as well.

This new ruling can be a game changer not only for Belgium but for greater Europe and thereby the world. A law like this could be the wake up call that developers and publishers need in order to change their habits and business practices.

Video game and film enthusiast. Studying a Bachelor of Communications in Media Arts and Production along with International Studies at UTS. I play games in any genre, but mainly focus on CSGO and Tekken. I’m a fighting game aficionado and have met top players from both the Street Fighter and Tekken scenes. My other hobbies include reading, anime and learning the occasional song on guitar.