Update From the Editor-in-Chief: EA has recently announced it’s freezing all in-game purchases while they reevaluate their micro-transaction plans moving forward. You can read more in the official statement, which is as follows:
“Our goal has always been to create the best possible game for all of you – devoted Star Wars fans and game players alike. We’ve also had an ongoing commitment to constantly listen, tune and evolve the experience as it grows. You’ve seen this with both the major adjustments, and polish, we have made over the past several weeks.
But as we approach the worldwide launch, it’s clear that many of you feel there are still challenges in the design. We’ve heard the concerns about potentially giving players unfair advantages. And we’ve heard that this is overshadowing an otherwise great game. This was never our intention. Sorry we didn’t get this right.
We hear you loud and clear, so we’re turning off all in-game purchases. We will now spend more time listening, adjusting, balancing and tuning. This means that the option to purchase crystals in the game is now offline, and all progression will be earned through gameplay. The ability to purchase crystals in-game will become available at a later date, only after we’ve made changes to the game. We’ll share more details as we work through this.”
The internet is a strange, scary, and powerful place. There is a certain mob mentality there. This can be a positive and negative force. When people find a cause worth rallying behind, charitable action can come forth to improve things as a whole for society. When some find they have been wronged, they can strike like vipers and ruin lives with threats and actual attacks on individuals. This means there always needs to be a sense of awareness and caution when talking about important things. Naturally, this is something companies don’t do. This has put EA in the crosshairs again.
Here’s what happened. Star Wars: Battlefront II is in the midst of a major loot box controversy. The really cool characters, like Darth Vader, are locked behind walls that require hours of gameplay or real money to surpass. When people took to Reddit to complain about this incredibly shady practice, EA’s representative responded in the worst possible way. Instead of immediately saying they would commit to change and act on feedback, they dismissed the comment, said the situation would be monitored, and tried to justify their money-grubbing decision. But the worst part is the opening line, which reads, “The intent is to provide players with a sense of pride and accomplishment for unlocking different heroes.”
Naturally, the fury of the internet came down upon EA. This EA response is now the most downvoted reply in Reddit history. As of November 14, 2017, it had over 666,000 downvotes. People called it for what it was, a cop-out. It was another insult upon people after Mat Everett, the Star Wars: Battlefront II community manager, put out a tweet saying, “The arm chair developers on this internet.” This was in response to people who were concerned about these very same microtransactions. There are even rumors that EA developers are receiving death threats based on recent events. Which is of course a horrible and terrible thing that should not be happening.
But the point is, EA has incited the ire of the internet with its thoughtless, empty remarks. It poked the bear. Instead of acknowledging the shitty thing it was doing was shitting, it doubled down on multiple fronts. And now, the internet is responding the only way it knows how, with vitriol. While there is the fact that the cost of unlocking in Star Wars: Battlefront II has gone down since the beta phase, it clearly hasn’t gone down enough. And EA refusing to budge on its stance regarding this at least $60 game only worsens the situation.
It is like no company ever learns from the past. Not properly addressing internet reactions only makes situations worse. You would think EA would have looked back to Activision’s Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare issue, where its trailer ended up being one of the most disliked videos of all time. It went on to be one of the worst performing entries in the series and receive poor reviews. Nothing Activision could do could save it, and it was not even trying to vehemently and cluelessly justify horrible actions in the way EA is. One can only wonder how much further the internet’s rage could go and the damage it could deal.
Companies need to better address their fans. They need to deal with situations in ways that show they are considering people’s intelligence. Most importantly, they need to realize having someone spend $60 on a game and spend even more money or tens of hours playing to unlock major characters you expect immediate access to is unreasonable. While extremism is never the answer, one can only wonder if all those downvotes and responses will cause more people to vote with their wallets and show EA exactly what people think of the company.