Despite growing concerns, that we ourselves share, microtransactions are becoming the norm. And right now, there cannot be a discussion about microtransactions without mentioning EA, perhaps one of its biggest peddlers. EA has been the center of the gaming community’s frustration over microtransactions with their inclusion in Star Wars Battlefront II.
Well, just last night, EA decided to “turn off” in-game transactions for Battlefront II. EA announced its decision via twitter:
While this is certainly good news for those of us that have already purchased Battlefront II, this announcement does not come without concerns. Notice that EA has highlighted in big bold text, right in the center of its announcement, that “This was never our intention. Sorry we didn’t get this right.” We get it, EA listens to its customers and wants to give them the experience they deserve. In this case, it meant taking a hit to their bottom line. EA’s humbleness is noted. But this statement’s placement and big bold font has a far more deceiving purpose. It’s meant to detract from the reprehensible statement towards the end of the announcement. “The ability to purchase crystals in-game will become available at a later date, only after we’ve made changes to the game.”
With this statement, EA has left the door open for microtransactions in Battlefront II. EA fully intends to bring back micro transactions “at a later date.” While EA’s fanbase may be willing to believe that “at a later date” is far away, the sane among us know that date will occur the second the gaming community moves onto its next outrage.
When EA does decide to bring back microtransactions, it will certainly be in the same form that EA intended to include with the release of Battlefront II. After all, the loot boxes still exist, requiring players to grind out hours of play time to collect items needed to upgrade units. EA’s decision has only taken away the “pay to win” model which attracts so-called “whales.” For those of you with no idea what a whale is, allow me to explain.
A whale is a player who is willing to spend an enormous amount of real world cash to collect items needed to upgrade units and progress. Whales will quickly move to the top of the leaderboards because they have better units than the average players. EA could then start releasing new units for players to collect and upgrade as it has done with its free to play mobile game, Star Wars Galaxy of Heroes. This would keep the Whales spending and the rest of us frustrated to no end.
EA’s decision to delay microtransactions in Battlefront II is not a win, it’s a trojan horse. Every copy of Battlefront II carries the ability to conduct microtransactions, EA has merely deactivated players’ ability to do so. But with a metaphorical flip of the switch, Battlefront II’s microtransaction system can be back online any day. When this day occurs, Battlefront II will become “pay to win” again and all of the hours put in to grinding out gear will be meaningless.
We should all celebrate this minor victory. Battlefront II is an amazing game with a stellar campaign. Right now, everyone is on an even playing field with time being the only resource needed for loot boxes. But do not believe for a second that this is the last we have heard of microtransactions in Battlefront II. EA may say it cares about its customers, but it cares more about its profits. Microtransactions are a way to keep profits rolling in long after the initial sale into perpetuity. Without a doubt, EA is waiting patiently for the day when it can further corrupt the Star Wars universe with its “pay to win” model of business.