If you are not angry about how greedy triple-A game developers have recently become, you probably have been living under a rock. The last two weeks or even more gaming community turned into a tornado, smashing everything on its way. As it usually goes, the uproar started in modern-day couloirs – on thematic forums. As the backlash grew, bloggers and writers joined in, and finally, big publishers and services with reviews began posting their opinions. The wherewithal is centered around new Star Wars Battlefront II, issued by EA, and the microtransactions policy.
For the record, the official EA response explaining the choice of such a strategy was the most downvoted comment in the history of the platform. As for the articles about the matter, some of them were in a somewhat neutral tone; some praised the graphics, game dynamics, and impressive plot details, but still accused EA in an unforgivable terrible sin – microtransactions. It seems that everyone has already got used to buying and selling in games, so why gamers are so enraged?
Give Me Your Money in Micro Quantities
Some may say that this is a conspiracy theory created by evil businessmen, and I should admit the idea to offer gamers “buy three extra lives for 5$” after you have been trying to pass that monstrously tricky level in a standard match-three game for five days in a row sound appealing. People are pretty open about this mechanics in mobile games. If you don’t want to pay, wait for the lives to restore and farm your coins or diamonds the hard way. So, what is the problem when this same mechanics is transferred to the computer?
The fact that caused significant uproar is that a full-priced game adopted a freemium payment mechanics, basically blocking your way to the top if you are unwilling to give money. The problem was that players were nearly forced to pay to progress in a game they already paid $60 for.
Oops, We Did It Wrong
The amazing part is, hours before I settled on the topic for this article, EA released an official statement pointing out their shortcomings and apologizing. The acceptance of the failure, in this case, is an illustration of the classic psychological scenario with denial, anger, bargaining, and depression. I am not sure about the second and third stages, but the first one is depicted in this infamous Reddit comment left by the representatives of the company.
In short, the game won’t allow you to play as favorite main characters (Darth Vader, Yoda, Princess Leia and others) unless you pay a certain amount of in-game currency, which gamers all over the world found to be unethically high. Credits can be earned through campaign milestones, but you need to wait until you are allowed to play again, like in match-three mobile games. Some players report that they were asked to wait for more than 24 hours instead of usual three.
The bargaining stage happened shortly after, with developers reducing the price to 25% of the initial cost, and then removing the system altogether. Though the official statement issued on the website points out that this is temporary, considering the significant upheaval it caused, returning to the previous system is a sure path to marketing failure. Probably the company wanted to leave some sense of control of their product, and not make it seem that users of some Internet forum can overthrow their decisions and promote their demands.
Alternative Point of View
You couldn’t just scroll through your feed without several memes and mentions of EA if you have at least one gaming-related page. And while struggling through my feed, and feeling righteous annoyance, I stumbled upon a short twit that made me reconsider my opinion. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the comment that has provoked a meditation-like state for me, but I believe the message was that it became popular to hate EA.
The Twitter user pointed out that dozens of trash games with lousy plot, terrible graphics, bag-ridden gameplay and ridiculous pricing policies are launched every day, and gamers say nothing about them. But an overall excellent game with a single failure in its pricing policy gets all the wrath and hate immediately. Official representatives of the company commented on the tweet, trying to defend themselves to further public dismay. For example, they were accused of an inability to accept criticism and consider the gamers’ needs.
There’s hardly any chance you can be objective in the world with billions of opinions and the fantastic ability to see them all just by tapping a couple of words on your keyboard, so this view is also a subjective one. Plus, I am guilty of not diving deep enough into the topic to make educated assumptions (or accusations).
While I believe that EA was too eager in their desire to make the game profitable, the argument got quickly overheated as it usually happens on the Internet. It is clear that the developers have put an impressive amount in every aspect of the game since most of the independent writers praise the gameplay, graphics, plot, and characters. As the microtransactions mechanics have been dismissed, the peace has settled once again. I believe that after the dust settles no one will remember about this nuisance, as the game promises to be astonishing in every possible aspect.