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#1 Edited by Sweep (10563 posts) -

The idiom "the straw that broke the camel's back", alluding to the proverb "it is the last straw that breaks the camel's back", describes the seemingly minor or routine action which causes an unpredictably large and sudden reaction, because of the cumulative effect of small actions.

For those that aren't up to date, this happened recently:

Which was in response to what is apparently the most downvoted comment on reddit ever, after developers attempted to defend the decision to stick half their game's unlockables and progression behind paywalls.

The response to the change has been mixed. Some praise the decision, but just as many are vocal about the way the game has been designed around this payment model and, without it, the structure is still broken.

It's clear that people are aggressively angry, but this is hardly the first time that microtransactions have been implemented in a way that is both manipulative and greedy. It's not the first time a developer has listened to criticism either, for example Gears Of War 4 dramatically reducing the cost of its loot crates after being actively disparaged by the playerbase. However this is clearly the most widespread and pro-active form of outrage we've seen in response to microtransactions, ever. It feels like there's been a lot of building resentment spread across numerous games and, for a lot of people, this is the final straw. For every person that's forgiving EA for its mistakes, there's just as many angry at the smallprint: "The ability to purchase crystals will become available at a later date" which means this solution is only temporary.

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So how do we feel about it? On the one hand you've got people threatening to boycott a game because of it's aggressive payment structure, but on the other hand you've got Ubisoft reporting that microtransactions are making them more money than digital sales of their games. Do we think this Battlefront backlash is a sign that people are fed up with microtransactions in general, or just with this game in particular? Do we think other publishers are taking note?

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Personally, after recently realising just how much money I've been spending on hearthstone cards every 3 months (with each expansion) I have decided to stop paying for packs. The following realisation was that not buying packs meant I could never hope to construct any of the decks that would allow me to compete on ranked ladder, effectively locking me out of the game. Which, in hindsight, seems insane. But it's not just about hearthstone - every game I play has some version of this bullshit baked into its progression, for content that is available on the day of release and in some cases has a huge impact on the way the game is played.

Have we reached our limit? Or are we fine with microtransactions as long as they're "reasonable", or for cosmetic items only? Has this changed the way anyone feels about microtransactions in general?

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#2 Posted by ajamafalous (13812 posts) -

I think the Hearthstone example is an interesting one, because that same paywall (buy the next expansion's cards every few months/years) is built into physical card games as well.

That being said, I think most people will continue to evaluate microtransactions on a case-by-case basis. Everybody will draw their own line somewhere, but I think the last few years have shown that enough people are okay with spending money on cosmetics that microtransactions will never go away.

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#3 Posted by takayamasama (1538 posts) -

@ajamafalous: I think the biggest (and most important) difference between Hearthstone and other TCGs like Magic is that with physical card games, you actually own the card and some cards hold value. It's uncommon that they hold any real value, a majority of Magic rare cards hold a value below 2-3 dollars, but the chance is there and you never know if the future will make a cheaper card rise in value.

With Hearthstone you own nothing. You own the license to some code that Blizz can change and take away at any time, and once Hearthstone eventually shuts down, it'll be 100% gone. Hearthstone is definetly a Video Game first, Card Game second, and they treat it like such with their microtransactions.

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#4 Posted by Teddie (2110 posts) -

Nah, this isn't gonna change anything. Someone will try this again, it'll get less pushback because people will give less of a shit the next time it happens, and eventually it'll be normalized again so they can move on to harder microtransactioning.

But in regards to my own limit, yeah that's peaked this year. Playing Mario Odyssey you can see so many opportunities for them to "monetize" shit and they didn't do any of it (even putting the costumes you unlock with amiibos in the game for everyone anyway), just makes all the other garbage stuff in other AAA games these past few months look even more egregious.

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#5 Posted by Marokai (3711 posts) -

I think what has mobilized people about this so much is how shameless EA has been with it. It's by far the most egregious big example of how hard microtransactions can completely alter the way games as we knew them are designed, and how much the game demands of you to get the rewards without coughing up real money to get them. The cherry on top though is that all of the excuses surrounding microtransactions - how they're this "unfortunate necessity" in how games are made now because "games are just so expensive, how else will games continue to exist at their present price point?" - fall totally flat because this is a fucking Star Wars game. If you can't make your big Star Wars shooter of the year profitable without reaching for the skeeziest monetization practices, you should not be in business, full stop.

I'd like to believe this is the straw that broke the camel's back, but I'm way too pessimistic for that. EA will try with all their might to keep these kinds of practices in their games and most people are willing to accept them as long as it's done "reasonably" which already shows you how much ground has been ceded. I'm personally of the opinion that these things shouldn't exist at all, because the entire rationale ("things are so expensive!") never pass the smell test for me. It isn't predominantly small game devs relying on these practices to stay above water - it's huge companies selling products that would be successful regardless of their being included or not. Maybe at least in Ubisoft's case you could make the argument that it helps subsidize smaller projects that wouldn't be so profitable, but certainly not in EA or Activision's cases.

Honestly I think EA just reacted because they're getting scared about potential government involvement and very little to do with people being upset about it on their own. The uproar over Battlefront II is becoming so big and widespread that, if it weren't for the fact that politics in the West is so messy right now for so many other reasons, it probably would've caught several politician's eyes by now. If they keep reaching further and further, eventually some government agency is going to get involved and it's in their best interest to manage the public outcry just enough to keep that from happening.

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#6 Edited by csl316 (14946 posts) -

I think this whole year kind of broke the camel's back. Seemed like a decent idea that went too far. I don't expect loot boxes to entirely go away, like online passes did after the internet rebellion. But I do expect companies to take a more critical approach to how this stuff is implemented.

He's right about it overshadowing the game. Just like it did with Shadow of War, too. They'll still make cash off these, but they have to balance it out where the more vocal internet audience doesn't wind up ruining their PR campaigns for these games. Or bringing down user scores on certain sites and platforms.

Personally, I'm not bothered by this stuff since it can mostly be ignored. I've even had some positive experiences with these systems (Halo 5 and Mass Effect 3, for example). It can be done right.

And as for microtransactions outside of loot boxes... microtransactions will be here forever in some capacity.

Also.

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#7 Edited by Zeik (5185 posts) -

There's no reason to believe this will cause microtransactions to go away forever. That would be absurdly naive. This is only proves that there is a limit on what people will accept, but companies like EA will continue to push those limits.

There are people that will scream until their lungs give out over any form of microtransactions, but they are in the minority and are easily ignored. Everyone else will put up with it until it crosses their breaking point. People who can't accept that are going to be pretty miserable going forward.

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#8 Posted by Brackstone (857 posts) -

I think Battlefront 2 is less the straw that broke the camels back, and more the perfect storm of everything terrible about microtransactions. They were both pay to win and grindy in a way that breaks the game at it's core, the perfect example of a decent full priced game crippled at it's core by it's choice to include chance based microtransactions. Unlike other cases, it has a very tangible, negative effect on everyone who doesn't pay extra. This video is fucking insane:

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I honestly can't think of a worse implementation of microtransactions in a full price game, it's the worst case scenario come to life. It's even more jarring given the numerous ways they could have included more reasonable microtransactions.

Also, the fact that this is a game partially targeted towards kids, and one that uses an IP with a ton of cultural importance outside of just videogames means that this example penetrates the mainstream media in a way no other game can.

Again, it's partly the straw that broke the camels back, but mostly it's the perfect storm of shitty microtransactions.

The most shocking thing about it is that EA didn't see this coming. This is Xbox One DRM levels of being blinded by money.

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#9 Edited by ArbitraryWater (15667 posts) -

The thing is, I have zero idea how much this lootbox stuff upsets people outside of our little corner (i.e. people invested enough to post on internet forums.) Does Bill Mainstream, who buys a handful of games a year and is excited for Battlefront II because Star Wars care about this Loot Crate disaster? Obviously people are pretty upset on "the internet" and it seems like this year is the one that "hardcore enthusiasts" have started pushing back hard against aggressive F2P-style microtransactions in their $60 games, but that first EA Battlefront sold roughly a bajillion copies. How much of that audience really cares?

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#10 Posted by Sweep (10563 posts) -

@arbitrarywater: Well, the online backlash was enough to make EA remove the microtransactions completely (at least temporarily) so it's not nothing.

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#11 Edited by sparky_buzzsaw (8818 posts) -

They’ll hold off on on the in-game microtransactions exactly as long as a) Disney keeps getting a black eye and b) up until the point when a million people will buy this regardless because it’s Star Wars and of course they will. If you think this solves anything, it won’t, because they’ll always be looking for the next best way to skin the naive out of their money. Maybe it won’t be called “loot boxes” in four years, but nothing, absolutely nothing, will force EA to really change until their stocks plummet.

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#12 Edited by Atlas (2738 posts) -

There's such a simple solution to this problem that big publishers are going to have to bite the bullet and accept; make your games free to play. Nobody would be complaining as vociferously about the microtransactions in Battlefront II if not for the fact that this bullshit nickel-and-dime system is part of a game that they're charging an upfront fee of $60-70/£50/whatever for. If people like your game and want to play it and support it by purchasing additional content or buying keys for your gambling boxes, then you can make big money as a F2P game. We've seen numerous examples of games that failed as full-price games going F2P after the fact anyway - two notable recent examples being Evolve and Battleborn - so maybe the sooner that AAA games embrace the full-on F2P model, the better.

But publishers are too terrified of not charging the upfront cost, because they lose the immediate launch cash-in and it creates an opportunity for failure if your game doesn't hit a chord with players. Oh, and of course publishers also can't sell their fancy special editions if the game is F2P, and I imagine one of the perks of working with a franchise as big as Star Wars is that you can convince people to buy dumb shit like art books and figures and all the other bollocks that comes in collectors editions.

I can definitely see a scenario where, if Battlefront II is still a big success, other AAA publishers will continue to double-down on microtransactions in full-cost games. Then, and only then, will they realise that they don't have the resonance and visibility of a high-profile franchise like Star Wars backing up their game, or they don't have the pedigree of a major developer backing them up like with Overwatch, and they die a painful death. And that's when we'll start to see this stuff go away or at least become less brazen and less predatory. Maybe that's wishful thinking, but we've all seen so many examples of new trends in gaming that people thought were going to kill the industry and were the worst thing ever, and they've either gone away or been toned down - I'm thinking of stuff like DRM, always-online games, and the recent kerfuffle over paid mods. That stuff is still around, but it's not killing the industry, and I can definitely see a scenario where the same thing happens with loot boxes and microtransactions.

I hold a special contempt for loot boxes because they are gambling and prey on people's weaknesses and baser instincts, but the whole system is totally rotten and is proof of the rampant greed and avarice of AAA publishers. This shit needs to die, and as soon as possible.

Also, in this case, I feel super bad for friend of the site Janina Gavankar, who is a public face for the game and a huge role for her and yet the whole game is just becoming associated with this total garbage fire that is the game's business model. She deserves better.

@arbitrarywater said:

The thing is, I have zero idea how much this lootbox stuff upsets people outside of our little corner (i.e. people invested enough to post on internet forums.) Does Bill Mainstream, who buys a handful of games a year and is excited for Battlefront II because Star Wars care about this Loot Crate disaster? Obviously people are pretty upset on "the internet" and it seems like this year is the one that "hardcore enthusiasts" have started pushing back hard against aggressive F2P-style microtransactions in their $60 games, but that first EA Battlefront sold roughly a bajillion copies. How much of that audience really cares?

Maybe I'm wrong, but I like to think that modern consumers are more plugged-in than we often give them credit for, and there's more way for information to trickle down to them than ever before. Type "Star Wars Battlefront II" into YouTube's search bar and roughly half the videos on the front page are about the negative reaction to the loot crate horseshit. They were all over the front page of Reddit, and the most downvoted post ever. Metacritic, Facebook, Twitter - all of these are avenues for less-informed people to pick up on the fact that a lot of the word of mouth buzz related to the game is hugely negative. Yes, these are all "the internet" things, but everyone is on the internet now, and this shit is much more mainstream than we might think after like two decades of the internet being this weird bubble where enthusiast crazy people like us lived.

To be honest, Bill Mainstream is exactly who these systems are designed for, which is one of the reasons why more dedicated gamers hate them so much; it's also a business model that they're increasingly accustomed to if they're also the kind of person to play mobile games.

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#13 Posted by dgtlty (1216 posts) -

And the Hottest Mess Award for 2017 goes to...

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#14 Posted by Ares42 (4266 posts) -

@theoriginalatlas: F2p games with microtrans is like 5+ years old at this point though. They've already had a bunch of success with f2p titles, so now they're exploring how to make even more money. Making the games f2p isn't a solution in any way for them, it's just status quo.

As for this being the big shift ? No, it's not. The machine will keep going faster and faster until it breaks, and resisting will only cause a temporary set back. We already saw it before with day one and on-disc DLC. They cut it back for a while, then it slowly but surely returned. We are most definitely heading towards a second crash though, but it's probably a good few years away still. It's just very clear that they're pushing beyond the lines of sustainable business, and they're showing no real interest in reigning it back. It's been about 10 years now of publishers constantly pushing the line and setting new standards for normal monetization.

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#15 Posted by Captain_Insano (3477 posts) -

Once Battlefront II has sold a bunch of copies (because it's Star Wars) and this initial microtransaction stuff has calmed down, watch microtransactions come right back in with an 'update'. Probably not quite as egregiously as they started, but they'll be right there.

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#16 Posted by Mike (17982 posts) -

Once Battlefront II has sold a bunch of copies (because it's Star Wars) and this initial microtransaction stuff has calmed down, watch microtransactions come right back in with an 'update'. Probably not quite as egregiously as they started, but they'll be right there.

Well EA's statement did say that they would be bringing them back.

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#17 Posted by soulcake (2639 posts) -

I think i own every DICE game out there ( yeah even the rally one) and i think there a great studio. But holly shit did EA create a PR nightmare, EA really needs to straight there shit out, or else there stock is gonna drop like flies.

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#18 Edited by Efesell (4325 posts) -

This is an important step in determining what the current line is that people will quietly put up with and now they can work on normalizing all of that so that next time when they push hard again it doesn't blow up so bad.

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#19 Posted by viking_funeral (2881 posts) -

I think people are overlooking potential government investigations, starting with the one in Belgium, as a significant reason for the change. The ESRB is voluntary and setup by the gaming compamies themselves. Actual government regulation would be disasterous for the industry, and would paint a target on EA's back.

It only takes one western government amd some press coverage for the ball to start rolling.

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#20 Posted by Sweep (10563 posts) -

@efesell said:

now they can work on normalizing all of that so that next time when they push hard again it doesn't blow up so bad.

I think, unfortunately, this is the most likely outcome. Publishers will input this data into whatever social algorithm they're using to calculate this shit and find a balance between what their players need and what their players want, and then charge them an "acceptable" amount of money for it.

I was hoping that more people would be outraged enough to reject any such conclusion, although i'm not naive enough to believe that would ever actually happen.

Sigh.

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#21 Posted by SpaceInsomniac (6354 posts) -

The crazy thing is this is fucking Star Wars. They could profit SO much from just cosmetic content in loot boxes, but they felt that they should tie in-game power progression to a system that would feel exploitative in a free to play mobile game, much less a 60 dollar retail product with the arguably the biggest IP on the planet.

Cosmetic only and they'll be fine. They'll also make a ton of money. If pay to win comes back, they're making a mistake. There's a reason why "cosmetic only" has become a go-to defense of this sort of thing. Because it actually makes some amount of sense, and has become generally acceptable over time.

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#22 Posted by Goboard (290 posts) -

It's crazy that in a year filled with so many great games and still we find ourselves doubting the future of the industry. I can't recall a time in the entirety that I've played games and followed the industry that I've felt so down on it's prospects. Were it not for the independent development scene and the rare AAA games willing to be bold and take a risk, I'd have almost no hope that games could do or be anything meaningful for me anymore going forward. Maybe a bit hyperbolic in the moment, but it's how I've been feeling for a while now.

This is the apotheosis of a lot of changes that have been happening over the last decade in games, and several people in this thread have already mentioned what some of those changes are. It wasn't that long ago that many were happy to see the audience for games grow because it meant more people to share games with and this lead to an audience that is less knowledgeable of the history and expectations of games. The increase in the use of data driven changes to design and the live-service model meant a game could live in the public consciousness longer, in turn making it harder to discern what the game was or would be. The hesitation on the part of developers to be open about their game, leading to a lot of empty jargon or uncertainty. The broader realization that a lot of what goes into game development involves subtle tricks to amplify situations and an emerging distrust of for the authenticity of an experience. That EA is the one to epitomize these changes is more of history repeating itself in a different way. Had Call of Duty: WWII not had massive server issues it might have had a bigger role in the current discussion of loot boxes and microtransactions. Even Ubisoft is flying under the radar with AC: Origins and it's DRM not having much, if any, effect on it's user ratings on Steam. In years past these would have been the types of topics that inflamed public discussion in games.

I've also become increasingly worried that the larger role out of games as a service and the focus on maintaining player attention longer will have an increasingly negative effect on the health of the industry workforce. If the goal is to have more people focused on fewer games then there will likely be fewer games that can succeed, especially when many of these games also encourage spending more money on them than a traditional fixed price. With more people buying fewer games there will be fewer games that can succeed. We've seen the opposite of that with too many games leading to lower overall sales for smaller developers and some having to close shop and go back to working at a larger studio. There is an upper limit of people those larger studios will need to run these games and an upper limit to the number of games that can succeed in a market predicated on maintaining a players attention, so I see the potential for a brewing employment bubble in games over the next decade. Those who might normally go to the indie space won't find it as realistic an option, and those who might look to another big studio might find the number of opportunities shrinking. In and industry that already sees a large amount of churn, this outcome would be a devastating change. Maybe I'm being overly pessimistic and I almost certainly lack enough of the necessary information to see the situation with adequate clarity, however my gut is telling me that the problems we face now aren't going to get better and will bring bigger and more difficult ones along with it.

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#23 Edited by doctordonkey (1800 posts) -

The shitty thing is that this is a big AAA Star Wars game during a Star Wars craze. It doesn't matter how horrific the microtransactions are or how terribly EA treats consumers, this thing is going to sell like gangbusters and make a ton of profit with raw sales of the game alone, microtransactions aside. EA is well aware of this, this is just some lip service until things die down and people move on to the next outrage, then it's right back to business as usual. Microtransactions will be reimplemented, but the outrage will be over by then and they will continue to make huge profits on the game.

Maybe if this wasn't a ridiculously huge IP like Star Wars backlash like this could make a dent. But unfortunately Star Wars is just way too huge, average Joe and Jane aren't going to give a shit about how horrid the business model is, they just want to "play that new Star Wars game".

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#24 Posted by Jesus_Phish (3766 posts) -

@sweep: It's crazy to see the cycle this has taken with Battlefront 2 but I don't think this is the straw that breaks the camels back and ultimately ends microtransactions, loot boxes, etc etc.

Like Dan and Jeff and others have pointed out, this won't really fix BF2 because BF2s actual problem is the progress is done terrible.

There are plenty of games doing loot boxes in "the right way". I don't know if you're familiar with him, but this twitter thread from Damion Schubert who interestingly enough was at EA and worked on STWOR when that game had to move from it's monthly subscription to F2P monetization.

He sort of explains what you have to do to make it so this sort of thing doesn't happen. The jist of it is that if you're expecting more than 5% of your player base to dive into loot boxes, you've already fucked up.

There are games that get it right. I think of something like Warframe. That game lets you get access to pretty much everything through time/grind or money. The developers also allow the unofficial, community marketplace, where the things you normally can't just buy directly (mods which are like cards) can be bought and sold for the in game premium currency.

You can buy 200 platinum from the developers, which you'd normally spend on weapons or suits or card packs and instead trade 50 platinum to Johnny who has the mod you want. Or the weapon or whatever. The dev is always making money though because the only way for platinum to get into the game via the users buying it for cash.

Similarly you look at something like DOTA 2 or CS:Go or PUBG. All of those make good use of the Steam marketplace, where players can access what they want as long as they're willing to pay for it. And there's a cut being taken to keep the whole thing going.

I don't dislike loot boxes full of cosmetics. I much rather be able to pay for what you want, or to trade for what you want or to craft what you want. But I get why they're the way they are.

As for my own take on BF2 - I knew coming out of the beta that no matter the paid loot box scenario, that the game wasn't for me because the progression was tied to random luck and not skill.

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#25 Edited by ThePanzini (725 posts) -

@spaceinsomniac said:

The crazy thing is this is fucking Star Wars. They could profit SO much from just cosmetic content in loot boxes, but they felt that they should tie in-game power progression to a system that would feel exploitative in a free to play mobile game, much less a 60 dollar retail product with the arguably the biggest IP on the planet.

Cosmetic only and they'll be fine. They'll also make a ton of money. If pay to win comes back, they're making a mistake. There's a reason why "cosmetic only" has become a go-to defense of this sort of thing. Because it actually makes some amount of sense, and has become generally acceptable over time.

This is where the Star Wars brand is a weakness every item in the game has to go though Disney/Lucas for approval they are a stickler for authenticity even the smallest item can take weeks if not months, Dice also can't just make stuff up like a simple pallet swap pink stormtrooper as the game is cannon. Its why the cosmetic's for Battlefront 2 were coming post launch, Dice should have made the upgrades as side-grades where nothing was straight up better like +increased mobility but at a cost -lower health.

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#26 Posted by soulcake (2639 posts) -

@jesus_phish: As someone who plays a lot of Warframe there free to play model is a great template for other free to play games, But still. I don't want that model to show up in a full 60 dollar game. Maybe they can comprise by lowering the initial cost to 30/40 dollars and still have a fair FTP economy. It's not a win win but this seems like a more honest model then there using now. ( as a full disclosure i probably spent around 150 bucks on Warframe )

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#27 Posted by Bollard (8141 posts) -

If the "camels back" we are referring to here isn't microtransactions, but instead loot-boxes containing gameplay relevant items, maybe. I hope this makes a lot of developers going forward reconsider their loot box implementations. But microtransactions clearly aren't going anywhere, especially not because of this.

Besides, they are only removing microtransactions as a method of attempting to acknowledge they fucked up. It isn't their solution to this problem either, but it's the only thing they can do right now while hopefully they go back to the drawing board on the game's progression. I don't think they ever implied this would "fix" Battlefront 2 and that's why they said they will re-enable them later. What remains to be seen is whether whatever they implement next is actually better.

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#28 Posted by Wolfstein_3D (279 posts) -

@thepanzini said:

@spaceinsomniac said:

The crazy thing is this is fucking Star Wars. They could profit SO much from just cosmetic content in loot boxes, but they felt that they should tie in-game power progression to a system that would feel exploitative in a free to play mobile game, much less a 60 dollar retail product with the arguably the biggest IP on the planet.

Cosmetic only and they'll be fine. They'll also make a ton of money. If pay to win comes back, they're making a mistake. There's a reason why "cosmetic only" has become a go-to defense of this sort of thing. Because it actually makes some amount of sense, and has become generally acceptable over time.

This is where the Star Wars brand is a weakness ever item in the game has to go though Disney/Lucas for approval they are a stickler for authenticity even the smallest item can take weeks if not months, Dice also can't just make stuff up like a simple pallet swap pink stormtrooper as the game is cannon. Its why the cosmetic's for Battlefront 2 were coming post launch, Dice should have made the upgrades as side-grades where nothing was straight up better like +increased mobility but at a cost -lower health.

This is probably one of the reasons they put that abysmal loot box centered progression system in place to begin with.

Disney/Lucas is extremely strict when it comes to the depiction of Star Wars characters and wouldn't allow much customization via skins the way Overwatch or other games do.

I remember reading an interview with one of the lead designers of the the Star Wars MMO The Old Republic. A point he got called out on was how little variance on outfits they have in game. He rather openly admitted that Disney/Lucas gives them little freedom in that field as they have a rather strict guideline how specific classes and characters have to look.

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#29 Posted by TheHT (15797 posts) -

Ehh, probably not. Seems like it's them hitting the wall of what folks are willing to abide. They'll rein it in and fine tune their approach.

If this shit's as profitable as they seem happy to relate, I don't see them throwing it away and just focusing on making great games. Not after this. If the outrage becomes a frequent problem for them and stops becoming an effective means of getting extra dosh, then maybe.

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#30 Posted by soulcake (2639 posts) -

@bollard: I don't think it's the developers fault. There being pushed by there publisher to implement these shitty business practices. So all those people harassing the developers on twitter are A idiots for harassing people and B bothering the wrong people they should dump there hateful spew all over the big shareholders how force this shit in. Cause they saw a graph of the numbers going up when they implemented micro transactions.

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#31 Posted by MindBullet (701 posts) -

I don't think this is really anything other than a prime example of a dev implementing and handling microtransactions in about the most inept way humanly possible. Its still a big part of the industry, and there are plenty of companies out there doing it in ways that dont illicit such a huge response.

Keep in mind that generally speaking, most times this sort of thing is put in it is (if they're smart) done so with the expectation and assumption that only approximately 2-5% of the total player base will spend. Battlefront got in trouble because they forgot about that, essentially.

Them halting microtransactions might show that its possible to still have your voice heard, but I'd hesitate to say it'll lead to anything more. Battlefront 2, from the sounds of it, is not a good game to begin with and is being released by one of the most hated publishers in the industry. It might be more the exception than the rule, is all.

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#32 Posted by SpaceInsomniac (6354 posts) -

@thepanzini said:

@spaceinsomniac said:

The crazy thing is this is fucking Star Wars. They could profit SO much from just cosmetic content in loot boxes, but they felt that they should tie in-game power progression to a system that would feel exploitative in a free to play mobile game, much less a 60 dollar retail product with the arguably the biggest IP on the planet.

Cosmetic only and they'll be fine. They'll also make a ton of money. If pay to win comes back, they're making a mistake. There's a reason why "cosmetic only" has become a go-to defense of this sort of thing. Because it actually makes some amount of sense, and has become generally acceptable over time.

This is where the Star Wars brand is a weakness ever item in the game has to go though Disney/Lucas for approval they are a stickler for authenticity even the smallest item can take weeks if not months, Dice also can't just make stuff up like a simple pallet swap pink stormtrooper as the game is cannon. Its why the cosmetic's for Battlefront 2 were coming post launch, Dice should have made the upgrades as side-grades where nothing was straight up better like +increased mobility but at a cost -lower health.

This is probably one of the reasons they put that abysmal loot box centered progression system in place to begin with.

Disney/Lucas is extremely strict when it comes to the depiction of Star Wars characters and wouldn't allow much customization via skins the way Overwatch or other games do.

I remember reading an interview with one of the lead designers of the the Star Wars MMO The Old Republic. A point he got called out on was how little variance on outfits they have in game. He rather openly admitted that Disney/Lucas gives them little freedom in that field as they have a rather strict guideline how specific classes and characters have to look.

Yeah, honestly, that all makes sense. It is probably why they decided to risk non-cosmetic loot rewards in the first place.

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#33 Posted by Bollard (8141 posts) -

@soulcake said:

@bollard: I don't think it's the developers fault. There being pushed by there publisher to implement these shitty business practices. So all those people harassing the developers on twitter are A idiots for harassing people and B bothering the wrong people they should dump there hateful spew all over the big shareholders how force this shit in. Cause they saw a graph of the numbers going up when they implemented micro transactions.

Oh I totally agree with this, I'm sure the decision to remove the microtransactions temporarily was also driven by EA, but my point was to bring attention to the fact they aren't claiming removing them was their "solution." People tend to read as far as "we're removing the microtransactions," and say that isn't enough to fix the game while completely ignoring the parts where they acknowledge the broken progression (which obviously takes more time to fix). Even Dan did this in his tweet someone quoted above.

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#34 Posted by AdamALC (278 posts) -

They are fucked either way. They were fucked the moment the game was announced. Hive mind mentality made its decision regarding EA years ago and they can only do wrong. Honestly though, you people going on about the doomed fate of the industry either haven't been paying attention for the last 40 years or are willfully ignorant chicken littles.

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#35 Posted by Jesus_Phish (3766 posts) -
@soulcake said:

@jesus_phish: As someone who plays a lot of Warframe there free to play model is a great template for other free to play games, But still. I don't want that model to show up in a full 60 dollar game. Maybe they can comprise by lowering the initial cost to 30/40 dollars and still have a fair FTP economy. It's not a win win but this seems like a more honest model then there using now. ( as a full disclosure i probably spent around 150 bucks on Warframe )

Well this is to offset their "live team". There's no season pass for Battlefront 2 but they still intend to bring in new maps, probably classes, characters and weapons. I wouldn't mind the f2p model showing up in a $60 game so long as that $60 game continues to grow and provide free content.

I've probably spent about $60 on Warframe to date, playing since it launched and will likely continue to pay more as I continue to enjoy it and they release things that I find value in.

They are fucked either way. They were fucked the moment the game was announced. Hive mind mentality made its decision regarding EA years ago and they can only do wrong. Honestly though, you people going on about the doomed fate of the industry either haven't been paying attention for the last 40 years or are willfully ignorant chicken littles.

While you're right that the hive mind made its mind up about EA year ago - don't forget that the last version of this game sold 14 million copies. That EA, despite internet campaigns to get them named as the worst company in North America going back as far as around 2012 - continues to sell gang buster numbers of their yearly sports titles and continue to make even more off the back of microtransactions in those games.

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#36 Posted by KingBonesaw (1357 posts) -

Someone else will try this again in 2018, probably not EA but someone will. For me the straw that broke the camel’s back was in 2014 when NBA 2K15 came out. They gave everyone a bunch of Virtual Currency at launch as a preorder bonus but their servers were so shit at launch so all my progresses was erased after spending the currency. One time purchases in games that require online connectivity is absolutely terrible because you’re at the mercy of the publisher in ways that really suck when games launch as broken as they do nowadays.

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#37 Posted by hnke (188 posts) -

I just got off the phone with Michael Transactions and he assured me he's not going anywhere.

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#38 Posted by OurSin_360 (6117 posts) -

Wierd thing is this isnt the firat time ea has done this exact thing, mass effect 3 and andromeda have the same loot system lol. Difference is they arent actually competitive and the multiplayer is a fun after thought, ea made the mistake of putting it into a pvp multiplayer focused game.

Microtransactions are here to stay, hopefully pay to win wont rear its head in AAA games anymore though.

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#39 Posted by Sferics (37 posts) -

Can't wait to see the loot boxes in Anthem!!!

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#40 Posted by AdamALC (278 posts) -

@jesus_phish: That is because naming EA the worst company in North America is stupid. Not only is it stupid, it is so abysmally short sighted that people that actually believe it worry me. No matter how butt hurt people are about video games, they don't touch prescription drugs, weapons manufacturers, cigarette and alcohol etc...

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#41 Posted by disco_drew22 (67 posts) -

Straw that broke the camel’s back for microtransactions? Almost certainly not. Straw that broke the camel’s back for my interest in big-budget multiplayer games? That seems more likely.

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#42 Edited by nicksmi56 (829 posts) -

As much as I'd love things to go differently, I agree with others in this thread that this isn't going to make microtransactions go away. They'll just be more careful about it from now on.

As for my personal camel? Man, he stopped walking years ago. The absolute highest I'll go with monetization in a full-price title is DLC, and I'll only pay for that if I really love the game and want more of it. I think the last DLC I paid for was Mass Effect 3's Citadel DLC back in 2013. All this microtransaction and lootbox nonsense smelled awful from the moment it started, and to this day I don't own a single game that does it.

That may seem like a harsh stance to some, but honestly none of how games make their money these days feels right to me. I paid for your game already, guys. If you want to add something awesome to it and I really like the game itself, I'll support you because you've made a product I enjoy, the same way I'll pay for a sequel to a film I really like. But locking out content behind paywalls, let alone randomized paywalls that don't even give me anything I actually wanted? Sccccccrrrreeeeewwwwwwwwww that.

As for "Oh, but games are so expensive!":

@marokai said:

The cherry on top though is that all of the excuses surrounding microtransactions - how they're this "unfortunate necessity" in how games are made now because "games are just so expensive, how else will games continue to exist at their present price point?" - fall totally flat because this is a fucking Star Wars game. If you can't make your big Star Wars shooter of the year profitable without reaching for the skeeziest monetization practices, you should not be in business, full stop.

This girl gets it.

If this was limited to the indie space in monetized titles, I'd be a little miffed that they had unrealistic sales expectations, but I'd at least understand it to a certain extent. But all these microtransaction scandals we've had recently are NEVER from them. They're from gigantic companies that make more money than a whole lot of us will ever see in our lifetimes. Billions upon billions of dollars. You're telling me freaking Activision with Call of Duty of all games doesn't make enough money to turn a profit? Give me a break!

So no, it's not about "Oh, but we have to do this!" It's about distracting you with a shiny object while making off with your wallet, and I refuse to be suckered.

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#43 Posted by meteora3255 (678 posts) -

This isn't the "straw that broke the camel's back" if you mean this kills microtransactions. The only thing this nay change is how progression systems are tuned. These systems are a balancing act: progressing quickly enough to appease players who won't pay while being slow enough to entice less patient players to pony up some cash.

This will likely only embolden EA because of the sheer amount of data they are getting. It's not a coincidence this extreme form of microtransactions was introduced in this game. Battlefront 2 will sell regardless (the razor thin Battlefront sold 14 million copies despite reviews and word of mouth painting it as a shallow experience). For EA this really seems like a perfect storm, you sell your game, get to experiment with the limits of microtransactions and then (hopefully) get the PR boost by fixing the game. All the while they use what they learned here to better optimize the microtransactions in upcoming games like Anthem and Battlefield.

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#44 Posted by bemusedchunk (905 posts) -

No.

This is the inevitable evolution of Horse Armor.

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#45 Edited by Panfoot (313 posts) -

I think the only reason they took out the micro-transactions for now is because if there was any game were the backlash would reach outside the video game community, it was this one. Halo and Gears of War are popular games and they had their loot box backlash, but those games already have their audience so it wasn't much of a worry with them, but Star Wars? This is the type of game that people that buy a console and then buy like 3 games over the course of it's existence will either be interested in or buy. They are probably worried that this backlash has the potential to reach Xbox One Always Online DRM levels, where EVERYONE knew about it and it stuck around long after the fact that it didn't happen for those that didn't follow the news.

Turning off the micro-transactions doesn't matter anyway, as others have pointed out. They'll just re-enable them in a month or two after they got their first week sales, they won't actually fix the progression. Nothing will really change, after all remember the outcry about Horse Armor for Oblivion when DLC was just starting to become a thing? Not exactly uncommon for games to have 2 or 3 dollar costumes for sale these days.

Also another hot take: I kind of hate progression systems in multiplayer games. More often then not they feel like a crutch for shallow gameplay, a slightly more benign version of "I gotta play a little more, i'm so close to getting the next new shiny!" that goes with loot boxes. To often I find with games these days I have to ask myself the question if i'm actually having fun or if i'm just playing to hit that next level, it's so close after all. We got on just fine in the past just fine without this stuff (CS1.6, Starcraft, earlier Halo games, etc) and I don't see why we can't go back to it, after all Battlegrounds was already a hit before they implemented loot boxes.

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#46 Posted by notnert427 (2158 posts) -

I'm fairly surprised that EA actually did this. I'm not about to laud them for it, though, as they caused the issue by trying to pull this shit in the first place. However, it's a step in the right direction. A major publisher acknowledging that they can't get away with this will probably have some ripple effects across the industry in terms of how other publishers try to implement loot crates. This sure as shit isn't the end of microtransactions, but it's a decent blow to them. So, congrats, reddit, you did something sort-of positive for once via complaining.

Dan's right, though. If the progression is still glacially slow, having no microtransactions doesn't fix that. Battlefield 1, a game which I actually love, long suffered from the same issue (though it got better over time). With this move, they've removed the ability of someone to just buy their way to the top, but they haven't balanced the "kid who can dump 1000 hours of free time unlocking everything" vs. adults with actual responsibilities who will never be able to throw that kind of time at it. The devs in the AMA said matchmaking will prevent this, but we'll see.

This lootbox crap was quickly getting way out of hand, so slowing that train down even a little is a pleasant development.

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#47 Edited by meteora3255 (678 posts) -

@panfoot:I think EA has done a pretty good job of controlling the mainstream narrative. CNN's article pushes the apology and turning off the microtransactions, you have to read in deeper to find out these transactions may come back. It's easy to forget that we (users of a video game forum) are getting completely different info than the average consumer. With the Xbox One stuff the DRM/always online stuff was the mainstream story so that is what stuck around. In this case the mainstream story looks like the apology and their mea culpa of shutting off transactions. If the mainstream stories are all similar to that CNN piece, pushing the apology and shutting off microtransactions as the most important parts, then that is what the average consumer is going to hear.

@nicksmi56: Playing a bit of devil's advocate here, but it isn't just about making enough sales to turn a profit. If I sold one copy above breakeven I technically turned a profit but shareholders wouldn't be happy with that. Instead, they would demand I shift those resources to something with better margins. These games have to post at least similar (if not better) profit margins than their predecessors to retain viability in the eyes of shareholders. This is why it was better that EA's Star Wars single player game was cancelled rather than released. If that game gets released and bombs (which seemed possible based on stories about its quality and development) it spooks investors across the industry off an entire genre of game. At least this way there isn't a final product to test the marketplace and instead the criticism turns internally towards management and their ability to helm these large scale projects.

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#48 Posted by Revan_NL (395 posts) -

This is a decision forced upon EA by Disney more likely than not. Still, EA did succeed it bringing the concept of lootboxes to the attention of various government gambling authorities. Like someone said earlier in this thread it has happened in Belgium as well as the Netherlands. And it could be a major threat not just for EA but for the entire industry. They are probably fine in the US since services like FanDuel and DraftKings are classified as 'games of skill' when they clearly are a form of gambling.

In the Netherlands, online gambling is illegal. There is a bill in the works to legalize and regulate it but until then, it is illegal. If the Dutch gambling authority deems that lootbox systems are in fact a form of online gambling, it could lead to games that have said systems being pulled of the shelves (including EA's major cashcow FIFA). And when the bill regarding online gambling does pass, games with such systems would have to have a PEGI 18 rating and there are of course taxes (even though these days the Netherlands are considered a tax haven, as long as you're not a Dutch citizen, you'd be amazed with all the tax evasion options major corporations have).

Dutch gambling laws aside, it also is quite possible that the European Commission could take action, which would of course have big consequences for EA and other publishers if a large part of their market has stricter rules on lootboxes.

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#49 Posted by soulcake (2639 posts) -

Here's a fun fact. Assassins creed origins has a Camel you can buy with there premium currency.

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#50 Posted by DeanoXD (776 posts) -

So, i still had time on my free trail and at 6 am my time there sure is a shit load of people playing the MP of a game that no seems to like, and a lot of high lvl star cards and hero's running around.