Over the weekend, a thread on Reddit created by user MBMMaverick was the focus of a lot of attention. In it, MBMMaverick was complaining that even after paying $80 for Battlefront 2, Darth Vader was still locked and not available from the get-go. The thread's been locked already due to spamming and harassment after EA's community team made a comment that didn't go over very well with the Reddit people - to put it mildly.
Some people did some math, and they figured that it would take 40 hours to unlock Darth Vader or Luke Skywalker - that's 40 hours each. Since then, EA has knocked down the prices per character.
- Chewbacca - 10,000 Credits
- Darth Vader - 15,000 Credits
- Emperor Palpatine - 10,000 Credits
- Iden Versio - 5,000 Credits
- Leia Organa - 10,000 Credits
- Luke Skywalker - 15,000 Credits
Earning about 1,500 credits per hour, it'll take you 40 hours to unlock ALL heroes, instead of just one.
Normally, in any video game, grinding is part of the experience. Even if, sure, maybe 40 hours is a fairly long time. It really isn't new to have to grind or perform some absurd thing to unlock certain characters or powers. For example, Metal Gear Solid's bandanna or stealth suit. A big difference between those bonuses and special characters is that Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker are integral parts of the experience, as opposed to some bonus characters or traits or weapons, which are merely nice-to-haves. But even then, I don't think it's the grind for heroes that's bad. It's a design choice. They're trying to get people to play Battlefront 2 for a very long time. And to be honest, 40 hours for all of the heroes isn't that bad. If you Google average video game playing time, it clocks in at 6 hours per day. At 6 hours per day, it'll take you about a week to unlock everyone. It's a little more if you don't clock in that time on a daily basis. But the point is, it's doable.
But then again, playing over 100+ hours of a game I truly enjoy doesn't sound like torture to me. The grind for the characters isn't the worst thing.
This isn't new for EA either. It's good that the characters in Battlefront 2 aren't even hidden behind an RNGwall. You can pick your desired character and purchase them outright with in-game currency. That's a heck of a lot better than Mass Effect 3 or Mass Effect: Andromeda, where literally all the multiplayer characters are hidden behind loot boxes. And to fully level up a character, you'd need to randomly get their character card 20 times. You level a character up to 20, and you'd still be missing a lot of power points, which you can only get through the loot box system if you randomly get that character again 20 more times. For common characters, it isn't crazy, but imagine doing that for ultra rares. Major difference is that Vader and Luke are iconic characters of the franchise. That's the whole reason why there isn't any massive outcry against the ME:A loot box system because the multiplayer characters aren't iconic - they're essentially character classes. But if Commander Shepard was locked behind a lootbox system, I bet people would go ballistic, too.
Another game from EA did this another way. Unlocking all the guns and accessories in Battlefield 4 also takes a crazy amount of time to do. You can't buy battle packs, but you can buy shortcuts for every class, vehicle, weapon type, or just the whole account. Which is kinda crazy. The game allows you to forego the multiplayer grind by paying for all the items to get unlocked. But I guess this makes them money because not everyone has that kind of time to drop into a single game.
That said, unlocking characters, at face value, isn't the most offensive thing about Battlefront 2 or Mass Effect: Andromeda, or even Battlefield 4. What irks me is that the system is designed in such a way that it encourages microtransactions to make you more powerful in the game a lot more efficiently by giving you more incremental statistical upgrades, such as boosts and abilities, than players who don't pay. This is, by definition, pay to win, which I thought the gaming industry has already moved beyond. I guess I was wrong.
This is the same model being used by free-to-play mobile games. They give you a taste of what the game offers, but they lock all the really fun stuff and the competitive advantages behind RNG star card crates or lootboxes or battle packs. You can earn them in game but you'd have to grind for them. And there are even some currencies that can only be obtained through cash.
There's this game I play on mobile, Marvel Future Fight. You can technically level up all your characters to 6 stars or whatever the highest level cap is for free, but it's way too grindy. You're rewarded with I think one six star character at the start, but you'd have to grind for the rest. Or you can just drop some money and make that whole journey way easier. It affects PVP, too, so it makes sense to drop some money to be competitive. But that's a free-to-play game, so you kind of expect that from them. That's how they monetize. But that's what's keeping me from enjoying a great number of mobile games and EA's Battlefront 2 system is pretty much like that - a lot of things hidden behind RNG paywalls, multiple currencies, and convoluted https://www.cialissansordonnancefr24.com/ leveling up systems. In a roundabout way, EA is forcing (or maybe not forcing, but highly encouraging) you to pay for the crates if you want to remain competitive. That's the absolute WORST part of this whole craziness.
And this makes me worry about Anthem, Bioware's loot-based shooter MMO, which I'm a hell of a lot more hyped over than Destiny 2. Which is weird, because I never really got into The Division or Destiny, because I tend to not like looter shooters too much, apparently. I gave Destiny and The Divison a fair shake, too. But just because it's Bioware at the helm, I'm pumped for Anthem. I have high hopes for Anthem. Unfortunately, since EA's got them by the throat, I worry for the future of Anthem.
See, it could go one of two ways for them. One is they learn from this whole Battlefront 2 star card controversy, and make a system that respects a player's time and doesn't treat them like cash registers. Or implement a similar horrible system because this whole controversy didn't hurt them financially.
Take 2, the parent company of Rockstar, makers of the very successful GTA series, has said that all their games will feature recurrent consumer spending, aka microtransactions. 42% of their net bookings for the past quarter came from recurrent consumer spending. Ubisoft had a similar financial report, too. And that leads me to believe that despite all the noise being made about Battlefront 2's microtransactions, there will still be a lot of people willing to swipe their credit cards for some incremental statistical upgrade in game. Unless that changes, this will be the state of triple A gaming in the foreseeable future, and that, ladies and gentlemen, makes me a sad panda.