SW Battlefront II drama llama, stage 2

The story so far.

Star Wars Battlefront came out a few years ago and got pretty mediocre reviews. Complaints were mostly that it lacked a single player campaign and in general there wasn’t enough content to justify a price. The developers released additional content over the next year or so, but you had to either buy a Season Pass or buy the DLC as it came out. Few consumers seemed to do so.

As someone who did buy the Season Pass, I regretted it. By the time the new content came out the player base had shrunk to the point where it was hard to get a game together if you wanted to play in the new content, since so few people purchased.

In the meantime, EA put THREE development teams on Star Wars Battlefront 2. DICE was handling the ground based stuff and was the ‘main’ dev, Criterion was working on space combat, and newly formed Motive was working on the single player campaign. In spite of the fact that so many resources were being devoted to the game, it would of course launch at $60, same as it would have 15 years ago.

At some point EA announced that there would be no Season Pass, but they would be continuing to support the game with new maps and modes well past launch. In lieu of a Season Pass they would generate revenue via micro-transactions. At the time, this decision was APPLAUDED since no one likes Season Passes.

Then the Great Loot Crate Riots of 2017 began. Really it started with Middle Earth: Shadow of War. “OMG loot crates in a single player game, the world is ending.” That was a big deal right up until launch when folks starting playing, having fun, and found that buying loot crates with real money was truly optional. (Curiously Assassin’s Creed has had stuff you could buy with real money in its games for the past few iterations but no one really cared. Not sure what Shadow of War did to draw all this ire.) Today, a few weeks after launch, no one seems to be too fussed about Shadow of War having loot crates. It’s a great game. Great enough that I bought it on both PS4 and Xbox One X.

In the meantime the horde had turned on Star Wars Battlefront 2 with its “pay to win” system (which really is a “pay to slightly up/side-grade your character but if you suck you’re still going to lose” system). There was a lot of drama, gamers were livid and again, the world was going to end.

Someone came up with a system that determined it would take thousands of dollars or thousands of hours to “unlock everything.” Of course every gaming blog jumped on that to create more hysteria and ad-revenue. I don’t really believe those numbers, but what I found really fascinating is that people were acting as if the game wouldn’t be fun until everything was unlocked. It’s a ridiculous concept. Think about a game like World of Warcraft. Imagine if there were complaints about how long it would take to collect every piece of gear in that game. Pretty much the same thing here.

People also act as if the gear in SW BF2 is like the gear in Destiny. As if you spawn with a rifle that does 20 damage but you can pay to get a rifle that does 50 damage. But that’s not really how it works. It’s more like you have a rifle that does a lot of damage but has a low rate of fire and you can pay to get a rifle that does less damage but has a higher rate of fire. For the most part weapons are balanced (or intended to be). There are definitely cards and mods that will give you a slight advantage, but it’s not as egregious as the horde would have you believe.

Meanwhile, the game launched early for some players. It was hard to hear but if you could make your way through the loot crate anger you’d find people saying they were having fun playing. You had to be quick because anything you say positive about the game gets quickly downvoted into oblivion on Reddit or comment threads. In today’s toxic online world, you need to be on message with the horde or your opinion doesn’t count.

EA held an AMA on Reddit and tried to respond calmly to the horde but even then, their answers got downvoted to the point you had to really hunt for them. Gamers didn’t want a dialog, they wanted to be pissed.

Thursday night, on the evening of official launch, EA caved. They announced that at launch they would be turning off the ability to buy crystals, the currency you use for making real money transactions. The horde hated pay to win, and so EA shut that system down. At launch no one can say the game is pay-to-win. The voice of the horde was heard and acted on. They won.

The response? Did you think the horde would be happy? You don’t know gamers. Rather than acknowledge that EA is trying to make things right, gamers immediately started pointing at this line: “The ability to purchase crystals in-game will become available at a later date, only after we’ve made changes to the game.” The on-message horde response to the EA announcement is that this is a BS move that they are making for launch and that they’re just going to turn it all back on again once the anger subsides. The hardcore tin-foil hat sect thinks this was all orchestrated from the start. That EA wanted to make gamers pissed so they could make this change at the last minute and seem like good guys. Yeah, right.

This is why we can’t have nice things. We gamers just have so much hate in our hearts that we’re never willing to give a big publisher the benefit of the doubt. We scream at them for doing things wrong but when they try to make things right, we just scream more. There is no winning once the horde has turned against you.

Maybe 2 weeks from now EA will just re-enable things as they are and you can all tell me what a jerk I am and how wrong I was. I don’t think they will. Prior to launch they’d already drastically reduced the cost of heroes based on feedback from the beta. That indicates to me they’re willing to make real changes. I’m not saying EA is an altruistic company. I’m saying they’re a company that wants customers to stick around and wants ‘long tail’ sales. If they just turn the same system back on, they’ll just have angry customers again and people will walk away from the game.

I think they’ll do exactly what they’ve said they would do. That they “… will now spend more time listening, adjusting, balancing and tuning.” before turning real money transactions back on. And of COURSE they’re going to turn them back on at some point. They’re not going to develop and give away additional content for free without any kind of revenue stream.

I just think its sad that the gamer horde seems determined to stay mad even when they ‘win’. I’m not sure what a company can do to disperse the horde, honestly. I’m glad I’m not in the game development business, that’s for sure.

13 thoughts on “SW Battlefront II drama llama, stage 2

  1. I am glad that EA listened, but I am also horrified that The Mob got shown that behaving like assholes works. You said that they are “determined to stay mad even when they β€˜win’”, which I think is the key: they like winning, and now that they know that being an abominable human being equates to winning, they’ll keep being abominable.

    1. Yup, I was thinking the same thing. EA is teaching gamers that being awful is the best way to communicate.

      1. In a way that feels like the Most EA Maneuver: do something correct at EXACTLY the wrong time, so even people who agree with them are going “NO, NOT LIKE THAT, DON’T SHOW THEM IT -WORKS-…”

  2. The only true thing I know is that EA has earned its reputation. I was a HUGE EA fan for many years, and they didn’t do anything contrary to what I thought was unfair – and I was often the “voice of reason” for EA (like you are being here). But year after year they made me doubt my stance, and a series of little things, announcements, decisions, etc. finally ground me down enough that I stopped supporting EA. And it seems, when I decide to give them another chance they disappoint me.

    I am not disagreeing with what you are saying – but if it was Valve, or Blizzard, saying they were making this change many (including myself) might give them the benefit of the doubt – definitely moreso than EA. They 100% deserve the reputation they have created for themselves. They spent years doing it.

    Add that to all the internet rage and there is no way to make anyone happy here. Players, Shareholders, Developers – everyone is going to lose on this one.

    1. I get that EA is the big bad in gamer circles. Well, EA and Ubisoft. Activision except if it’s Blizzard somehow they get a pass, even though Blizzard runs one of the most toxic communities (Overwatch) out there. And Bobby Kotick? What a slimeball. Oh and everyone hates WB too. I didn’t think WB had done enough to have so many people hating them but during the Shadow of War debacle I learned that they too are much-hated. Me, I don’t trust Valve, so nothing is universal.

      But what’s the point, then? If angry gamers are going to stay angry no matter what EA does because it is EA doing it… then what’s the point of any of it? What’s the point of getting angry if you’re just going to stay angry when the company makes the changes you’re demanding, and from the point of view of the company, what’s the point of listening to what your customers want if giving them what they want just seems to make them even angrier?

      To me, it’s a huge ball of toxicity. If someone hates a company to that level, why would that person support the company by buying ANYTHING from them?

      1. I’ve reached a point in my gaming life where I don’t care who made the game. And I kind-of don’t care how they charge me for it (unless it’s to excess or full of pay walls, but that’s another topic). What I care about these days is finding a game I actually want to play! All these new releases, and not one is even mildly tempting. There are a few on the horizon I wouldn’t mind watching Jack play, but they will give me a heart attack if I try to play (Last of Us 2, the trailer alone made my heart race, for example). I guess I’m just getting too old for this shit? Which makes me kinda sad, but I just want an old school Champions of Norrath type hack-n-slash I can play with my sister. That just doesn’t seem like too much to ask. All of which I’ve said before… /rant. πŸ™‚

        1. I go in phases of being really excited about gaming, then kind of finding myself playing out of habit rather than because I really want to. Get Jack to play Assassin’s Creed Origins. I think you’d like that. Or Horizon Zero Dawn. Great sci-fi in that game…the story is the best part of it.

          Did you and Glo ever try Neverwinter? It’s an MMO, free, kind of hack and slashy I guess. It’s funny that the whole 3d hack-and-slash genre seems to have died though. Funny in a sad way, I mean.

          1. We played ESO, Neverwinter, FFIV… most of the MMOGs we’ve tried to get into and I hate people, LOL. Multi-player Witcher or Skyrim, that would be my nirvana. I tried Horizon Zero Dawn and it just got to repetitive for me – go to this zone, do the trials, unlock the whatever, free the this, find the that. Move to next zone and repeat. Glo liked it a lot better, but she also loves Lara Croft and I find them tedious, so there’s the difference between us in a nutshell. πŸ™‚

            (And I can’t easily watch Jack play anymore, the stinker actually moved out! He’s starting to really love school and moved to be closer to campus.)

          2. Apparently we’ve reached the depths that commenting can go so I’m replying to myself but aiming it at @Gwyn

            I can’t believe you let Jack move out. He can’t be older than 8 or 9. TELL ME HE ISN’T OLDER THAN THAT because I feel old enough already without thinking about Jack being old enough to move out!!!

            I hate people too and don’t have a Glo to play with, so I’m kind of drawing a blank on good online co-op games for 2 people. Final Fantasy XV just got a MP add-on, I think. I have no idea if it is any good (or if you’d have to play through the whole single player campaign to get to it). The only games I can think of are probably too ‘realistic military’ and too “shooter” for your tastes; stuff like Ghost Recon Wildlands. If I think of anything I’ll let you know!

  3. The key takeaway for me from this entire debacle is that it makes absolutely no difference how good your game is. Without exception, every account I’ve read of the actual gameplay in SWBF2 has been highly positive. The people who just got on and played it seemed to love it. EA must be wondering why they didn’t just spend a tenth of the money making a crappy game with the same name, because clearly whether it’s any good or not isn’t of interest to anyone.

    As for the whole downvote record thing, that is clearly just another of those reddit games, like pressing the button. Once that ball got rolling they could have been downvoting a thread titled “Kittens are cute”.

    The whole “time to unlock” issue seems absolutely bizarre to me anyway, coming from an MMO background. Of course it takes hundreds, even thousand of hours to “unlock” everything. Why wouldn’t it? That’s what we call “the game”. Perhaps they’d like to calculate the time and cost of unlocking every Legendary item in GW2? You know, the thing half the playerbase there does *because* it’s so expensive and takes so long.

    1. Y’know, now you’ve got me thinking. I wonder if the reason none of this bothers me as much as it does some, is my MMO background. To me, putting in time to unlock new things is just a natural part of gaming, as is dealing with RNG to see if you get what you want. In a lot of ways what drops from a boss battle and a “loot crate” are pretty similar in that you don’t know if you’re going to get something you want/need or something you’re going to crush for components. I mean clearly HOW you get them is different. To kill a boss you have to win the battle with the boss. To earn a loot crate you just have to play the game, win or lose.

      And yeah you are spot on about the ‘downvote game.’ Someone in a Eurogamer thread claimed it would take 40 hours to unlock ONE hero in SWBF2. That is factually incorrect and pointed out that it was incorrect and of course got downvoted for it!

      1. It helps when you’ve anubderstanding of just how much work and cost goes into some titles but mostly we remember paying per hour the same amount that is often considered outrageous for full blown DLC these days πŸ˜€

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