Just hours before the full launch of Battlefront II, Electronic Arts has announced that they’re removing in-game micro-transactions entirely from the title for the time being as they look to rethink their pricing strategy.
What drove EA to take micro-transactions out of one of the company’s biggest releases this year? A backlash that was rippling through the online gaming community on gaming platforms, social media and forums. Though EA emphasized the full removal of in-game purchases was temporary, it’s clear that the community is volatile and will react negatively to changes it doesn’t see as satisfactory.
Oskar Gabrielson from EA game developer DICE noted the drastic shift in strategy in a blog post published this evening, announcing the move:
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.
Micro-transactions have been one of the fundamental takeaways that the console/PC gaming community has picked up from the mobile gaming industry. What has been a bit tougher to swallow for users is that while the “freemium” model has fundamentally involved free-to-download titles, EA and other large-scale gaming giants have shaped it to a model that functions on full-price experiences retailing for $60-$100 to begin with.
That’s largely been fine though, gamers have adapted and the shelf life of these titles have extended greatly in the face of evolving online multiplayer modes, while players are able to buy fun new outfits or personalizations that showcase their dedication.
The reason so many gamers were pissed off by EA’s recent news is that there’s been a fairly significant red line where gamers believe that micro-transactions should not influence gameplay or lead to anything close to a “pay-to-win” environment. It was clear EA crossed that line and gamers were extremely loud in informing them about.
After an official EA account sought to explain the reasoning of the company, Redditors responded en masse down-voting the comment to the lowest rating of any before it. Gaming sites were filled with posts imploring gamers who had pre-ordered Battlefront II to cancel their reservations. Soon, EA responded by noting that they were lowering the amount of in-game credits (crystals) needed to unlock certain characters.
The band-aid solution didn’t manage to appease angry gamers, but with today’s full court press on halting micro-transactions entirely — for the time-being — it’s obvious that this is all a fairly pivotal moment for the company that will shape how it approaches pricing content moving forward. Turns out the bottomless well of in-game purchases may have a bottom after-all.