EA has responded to mounting pressure from fans and slashed the price of in-game purchases in Star Wars Battlefront II by 75%. This is all to please the fans of course, and nothing to do with 5% of the company's value being wiped off in the stock market yesterday.
John Wasilczyk, executive producer at DICE, has waded into the controversy regarding microtransactions, loot crates and pay-to-win, claiming DICE “ continue to make adjustments based on your feedback as the game launches worldwide this week. Listening, and providing choices in how you play, will always be our principle with Star Wars Battlefront II. We want to ensure the game is balanced and fun both today and for years into the future.”
To that end, the number of credits needed to unlock the Heroes has been reduced by 75%. Previously, Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader would set you back 60,000 Credits. Now it’s down to 15,000 Credits. That equates to around 10 hours per character unlock if you want to play as the stars of the show. “It's a big change, and it’s one we can make quickly. It will be live today, with an update that is getting loaded into the game,” explains Wasilczyk.
The move is reactionary more than anything and indicative that EA was comfortable with a huge time investment for players to get their unlocks. Or, alternatively, you could just buy them. If they can cut what effectively amounts to their MTX profit margins by 75% overnight, you can begin to see the levels of profit EA was (and is) hoping to generate.
To my mind, this is too little, too late, and this unlocking treadmill for all the best content in an online game has little place in a $60+ title. If I could don my tinfoil hat for a moment as well, it’s obvious EA and DICE were prepared for a major backlash against these loot crates and unlock grinds. They aren’t stupid. They've been around the block a few times and they know how vocal gamers (and Star Wars fans) are. Jacking the price up before launch and then dropping it 75% to appease fans is a textbook business tactic that may, or not, have been used. I doubt we’ll ever know for sure.
Naturally, this news also comes with a major caveat. Users have discovered that along with the price of Heroes being slashed, the rewards for completing some challenges has also been cut 75%. Complete the single-player campaign in Star Wars Battlefront 2 and you’ll now be rewarded with 5,000 Credits versus the previous 20,000 Credit reward. The net gain for the end user in this scenario is, predictably, nothing. However, it does appear that earning rates for matches has remained the same.
So that’s where we stand now on this controversy that rolls eternally on. EA and DICE have reacted swiftly to yesterday’s furore which saw an official EA post become the most downvoted comment in Reddit history. They’ll say it’s for the players, but keeping a watchful eye on the markets reveals the full picture. EA’s quarterly forecast was well below expectations, reflecting a lack of confidence in Battlefront 2’s ability to generate meaningful revenue. It resulted in EA’s share price dropping from $117 down to $106 in a single day. Money really does talk.