‘Star Wars: Battlefront 2’ fans stood up to Electronic Arts and won — but will it last?

‘Star Wars: Battlefront 2’ fans stood up to Electronic Arts and won — but will it last?
Luke Skywalker in ‘Star Wars: Battlefront 2’ EA Star Wars/YouTube
Luke Skywalker in ‘Star Wars: Battlefront 2’ EA Star Wars/YouTube

In the face of immense fan backlash, Electronic Arts has temporarily suspended all in-game transactions in Star Wars: Battlefront 2 until it can figure out a more crowd-pleasing solution. Well, at least a solution that won’t break its own record for the most downvoted Reddit comment of all time.

“As we approach the worldwide launch, it’s clear that many of you feel there are still challenges in the design,” EA said in a statement posted Thursday evening in anticipation of Battlefront 2’s release Friday. “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.”

This development comes a few days after fans discovered that unlocking iconic Star Wars characters like Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader would require dozens of hours of gameplay apiece. The alternative to this in-game grinding was to purchase randomized grab bags of items, which would’ve expedited the process a bit. The rub, of course, was that this required gamers to fork over even more money on top of the $60 or $80 they would already be paying for the game itself.

In response to these concerns, EA said on Reddit that the in-game unlock system was intended to “provide players with a sense of pride and accomplishment for unlocking different heroes.” The comment was downvoted more than 675,000 times. EA then apologetically lowered the cost to unlock characters by 75%, but fans were still none too pleased with an in-game economy that felt too close to a “pay-to-win” structure.

So now, EA is going back to the drawing board entirely, but it’s unclear what kind of in-game economy is going to take its place. It’s unlikely EA will abandon a loot box-style economy entirely, since these have become moneymaking staples of online games like Overwatch and Destiny 2. However, Overwatch’s loot boxes only provide cosmetic items and do not affect the actual gameplay whatsoever. Even still, they seem to be generating quite a lot of cash for Overwatch’s developer, Blizzard Entertainment. It’s possible EA may take this less intrusive approach.

One thing’s for sure: Whatever EA comes up with next, its fans will be watching very closely.