On Nov. 17, EA announced that they would be temporarily removing microtransactions as an option for Battlefront II. In their notice on Twitter, the company apologized for being unable to get the formula right and stressed that they would spend more time “listening, adjusting, balancing, and tuning.” They also confirmed that the ability to purchase crystals (premium in-game currency) would return at a later date. As of right now, players are still able to purchase loot boxes and characters with in-game currency, but can only earn that currency through playtime and cannot accelerate the process with microtransactions.
This is the latest in EA’s attempts to quench the dumpster fire that is Battlefront II’s microtransaction controversy. Public outcry arose swiftly when the game was released in early access and fans quickly realized that without microtransaction purchases, it would take nearly 40 hours of gameplay for a player to receive enough credits to unlock just one of the iconic characters from the Star Wars franchise. EA’s first response was to cut character costs by 75%, but it wasn’t enough, and they have been pushed to the point of disabling microtransaction purchases altogether for the time being.
The question of microtransactions in games, especially when tied to loot box systems as they are in Battlefront II, has been a prickly subject as of late. The growing trend in the games industry to produce “games as a service,” that is, games that are supported and receive continual content patches for years after release, presents a bit of a problem: how should developers be compensated for their time working on a game past the release date? In multiplayer games, the answer isn’t as simple as charging a fixed price for each expansion, since charging for things like maps or new heroes can split the playerbase or give an unfair advantage to paying players. As an industry leader, EA’s response to this controversy will be important in setting a precedent for how companies proceed regarding loot box microtransactions in future games.