Update: New reporting suggests BiggSean66 may have lied about being an EA employee. Take the following story with a major grain of salt.
EA’s developers have received death threats for their part in the controversial Loot boxes from Star Wars Battlefront II. After the first few months of 2017, it looked like it would be a great year, at least in gaming. Horizon Zero Dawn, Yakuza 0, and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild are only three of the best games released in within the first three months of 2017. The year continued getting better and better – right until the latest gaming phenomenon gained steam.
Loot boxes, the practice of gambling your real-world money on in-game prizes, have firmly taken hold in the latter half of the year. After Middle-Earth: Shadow of War, Call of Duty: WWII, and Star Wars Battlefront II, all the hope and optimism at the start of 2017 has largely evaporated, giving way to a heavy backlash from gamers against these Loot boxes.
Yet, as terrible as loot boxes are in their predatory nature, things could always be worse, as (an unconfirmed) EA developer Sean has made clear. Going under the handle BiggSean66 on Twitter, he claims he’s received seven death threats so far due to “an unpopular feature in a game”.
So I'm up to 7 death threats, and over 1600 individual personal attacks now (and yes, for legal reasons I'm keeping track). And why, you might ask? Because of an unpopular feature in a game.— Sean (@BiggSean66) November 13, 2017
Presumably, he’s referring to loot boxes in Star Wars Battlefront II, which have caught heat since it was discovered they would be in the game. A week ago, EA claimed they would change how progression worked in the online progression of the game, due to player feedback regarding loot boxes. However, recent reviews of the open beta have alleged the time requirement of the game is unfair, allowing you to pay real-world money for clear advantages in multiplayer games. Reddit user TheHotter Potato, who’s played the open beta, claims it takes over 2,300 minutes of online play just to unlock one hero. EA’s response to the controversy has become the most downvoted post on Reddit.
That a developer of such a game would get death threats over such a feature isn’t surprising. On the internet, where everyone can hide behind their preferred website’s version of the Twitter egg, death threats have become commonplace. What is surprising is who has been the target of these threats. Sean only lists his first name on Twitter, has less than 5,000 followers, and isn’t well-known in the gaming scene. If he has seven death threats, imagine how many threats and harassing emails a more public face of the company, like former IGN Editor and current Battlefield II writer Mitch Dyer, must have sitting in their inbox.
How many more times are we going to write this story before someone acts on one of those threats? How many more times do we have to keep saying this kind of behavior isn’t okay before it stops? Loot boxes are a plague on the industry. They prey on those with addiction problems, and mangle games that use them to the point where they’re virtually unplayable if you don’t pony up more cash. However, if our response to that is to send death threats to developers – who likely had nothing to do with them to begin with – then maybe we deserve loot boxes.
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