EA just wrapped their open beta for Star Wars Battlefront II and the studio has released a statement in response to player feedback - namely, the uproar over loot crates and how they're tied to gameplay and progression. Battlefront II is only one of many games that have begun including rewards as random loot drops (Overwatch, Destiny 2, and Forza Motorsport 7 are other examples) but in the case of this game, these loot crates offer big, game-changing rewards as microtransactions and that is leaving a lot of players frustrated.
Typically, microtransactions - which are additional purchases made after buying a game at full price - are made for cosmetic items (emotes, skins, shaders, etc.) as well as a means to progress through a game more quickly. Your character can look as cool and advance as fast as you want if you're willing to fork over the extra money. Sometimes this can be achieved through a currency earned in the game, but more often than not this means paying with actual currency or real-world money. A lot of free-to-play games will go this route in order to keep themselves funded, but Battlefront II and other AAA-games are far from free-to-play and decisions like these have players worried they'll become pay-to-win.
In response to the outrage over Battlefront II's loot crates, EA had this to say:
We know you have a lot of questions about Crates and progression, so we want to clarify a few things, as the complete system was not in the Beta and will continue to be tuned over time:
There are many things you can earn in the game, including weapons, attachments, credits, Star Cards, Emotes, Outfits and Victory Poses.
As a balance goal, we’re working towards having the most powerful items in the game only earnable via in-game achievements.
Crates will include a mix of of Star Cards, Outfits, Emotes or Victory Poses.
Players earn crates by completing challenges and other gameplay milestones, or by purchasing them with in-game credits or Crystals, our premium currency.
If you get a duplicate Star Card in a crate, you will get crafting parts which you can then use to help upgrade the Star Card of your choice.
And lastly, you have to earn the right to be able to upgrade Star Cards and unlock most Weapons. You can only upgrade or unlock them if you have reached a high enough rank, which is determined by playing the game.
Reading over these loot crate-specific points from their address, it doesn't appear that EA has any intention of altering how loot crates are acquired or what it is they'll offer. Instead, they're assuring players that the loot crate system in the Beta wasn't indicative of how it'll operate when the game releases. For example, they only mention that Star Cards, Outfits, Emotes, Victory Poses will come as these random rewards, not weapons or upgrades. That Star Cards would come in these loot crates was the biggest grievance since they can give players huge advantages, but EA seems to be suggesting they'll be tweaking those bonuses, with "the most powerful items in the game only earnable via in-game achievements."
Still, the specter of microtransactions remains as this statement refers to loot crates being available for purchase with credits or "Crystals, our premium currency." Surely, Crystals are what can be purchased with real money and then exchanged for loot crates, giving those players willing to pay more the chance to reap more rewards. EA seems confident this doesn't give those players a major advantage, insisting that upgrading Star Cards and unlocking weapons is only achieved through leveling a character's rank - something that's only done through playing the game. Again, that didn't seem apparent in the Beta so only when the full game releases will we have a real understanding of just what the difference a few loot crates can make.
EA also addressed other concerns from the Beta, like the idea of making Strike Assault a 'best of three' game mode and nerfing the Specialist’s Infiltration ability. You can read EA's full response here, but have they eased your concerns over loot crates in Star Wars Battlefront II? Does it seem to you they're interested in making the necessary changes to stop the game from becoming pay-to-win? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!
- Star Wars: Battlefront II (2017) release date: Nov 17, 2017