As promised last week while Adeki battled (and continues to battle) pneumonia, this week’s editorial will be about the recent actions taken by and against Electronic Arts largely in regards to the game Star Wars Battlefront II which released just a few days before the publication of this editorial. The goal of this editorial is to chronicle more of what led up to the disaster of a launch the game faced and the potential future of the title not speculate wildly and batter EA any more than everyone else already has (not that they do not deserve it). That being said, there may be a few facts repeated in this editorial that one can also find in SiliconNoob’s recent news post for context.
For a bit of background information on Electronic Arts, the company has won the title of being the “Worst Company in America” in an annual poll multiple times. In all seriousness, EA has an established reputation of buying up developers like PopCap and then ruining their franchises. An example of this can be found in Plants vs. Zombies 2: It’s About Time which had perfectly fine gameplay that was unfortunately marred by an excess of microtransactions and the inability to just purchase the game standalone the way players were able to with the original Plants vs. Zombies. This has translated to the ruination of franchises such as “Need for Speed”, “The Sims”, “Mass Effect” and possibly even “Titanfall” thanks to the recent aqcuisition of Respawn Entertainment. All because Electronic Arts really does not care about producing entertaining video games, they care about what makes them money. It just so happens to coincide that games that are reviewed favorably often sell better. Star Wars Battlefront II as a whole could very well be a very entertaining and solidly-built game, but the problem is that EA took a product which could have been seen as favorable and destroyed its public image. Which brings us to today, where with each passing day there seems to be a new headline about how screwed EA appears to be at the moment.
One of the main sparks that lit this online fire of rage was a post on Reddit where the user MBMMaverick complained about paying $80 to own the Elite Trooper Deluxe Edition of Star Wars Battlefront II only to have Darth Vader be locked as a playable character. The post read as follows: “This is a joke. I’ll be contacting EA support for a refund… I can’t even playing fucking Darth Vader?!?!? Disgusting. This age of “micro-transactions” has gone WAY too far. Leave it to EA though to stretch the boundaries.” Many other members of the Star Wars Battlefront II subreddit joined in on voicing their concerns about the fact that it would take an estimated 40 hours of gameplay to unlock each additional character to the point where EA decided to make a response. The main takeaway from EA’s response was, “The intent is to provide players with a sense of pride and accomplishment for unlocking different heroes.” This was more than enough to greatly upset the site of Reddit as a whole as the reply now has over 670,000 downvotes which was unprecedented at the time as the previously most downvoted comment only had about 20,000 downvotes and the user asked for said downvotes. The controversy grew and grew to the point where EA, in their infinite kindness, decided to reduce the costs of each additional character by 75%. There was one issue with this though, they also reduced the reward for completing the game’s campaign by 75% as well. Needless to say this only generated more outrage to the point where EA announced they would be removing all microtransactions from the game until further notice.
So where does this put EA now? Well, there already appears to be a hefty amount of damage done as Star Wars Battlefront II has not been recieving very good reviews and an extremely large amount of customers have either cancelled their pre-orders or campaigned heavily to make sure others do not purchase the game. When compared to the previous entry in the series Star Wars Battlefront physical sales are down a whopping 60% according to Eurogamer. While a small percentage under 10% could be here or there, the signs point towards the fact that the online campaigning done by disgruntled fans and customers is manifesting itself on the physical marketplace in a very real and serious way. Bob Iger, the CEO of Disney himself, had to call EA because of how large this controversy has gotten! Not to forget that just a few days ago Representative Chris Lee of Hawaii made an official statement denouncing EA’s business practices when it came to Star Wars Battlefront II along with some other comments towards the loot box system as a whole and how predatory in can be when enacted unreasonably. While it is still unclear to see how far this controversy will take itself and what actions EA will do in order to blanket this roaring fire, it should be interesting to see if Square Enix even thinks about trying to pull any fast ones on customers when it comes to the upcoming Kingdom Hearts III given their push towards games as a service. When it comes to money the House of Mouse does not play around.
So that is it for this week’s editorial all about EA and its attempt to screw over the consumer gone terribly awry. Where do you see yourself in terms of purchasing EA titles in the future, if you even were at all? What is your take on the recent and much more outspoken greed on behalf of the video game industry? Whatever the case may be, make sure to leave a comment below and let us know what you think!