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The empire strikes back — with microtransactions

Gamers are beginning to rebel against EA and it’s actually working — for now.

Electronic+Arts+released+Star+Wars%3A+Battlefront+II+on+Nov.+17+with+microtransactions.+
Electronic Arts released Star Wars: Battlefront II on Nov. 17 with microtransactions.

Electronic Arts released Star Wars: Battlefront II on Nov. 17 with microtransactions.

Courtesy of Electronic Arts

Courtesy of Electronic Arts

Electronic Arts released Star Wars: Battlefront II on Nov. 17 with microtransactions.

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Imagine this: you just turned 10 and your parents bought you the brand new Star Wars: Battlefront II video game for your birthday. You’ve been waiting for months, excited to recreate all your favorite battles from the movies and play as your favorite characters. You insert the game, but soon all of your hopes and dreams are quickly shattered. All your favorite characters are hidden by an invisible pay wall.

Fans of the Battlefront series were excited for the latest installment when it was announced this year on April 15. The game was visually stunning and looked like a more fleshed-out version of its predecessor. There was a new single player campaign that was added to the game, which allowed players to play offline as well as more characters to choose from. Everything seemed to be on the right track, until Electronic Arts broke every gamer’s heart with the release of its microtransaction system.

The company announced its release of loot boxes, which are in-game crates that players can buy to randomly unlock characters and other useful items in the game. The problem with this system is that it works like a lottery, where you spend a lot of money without knowing what you are going to unlock.

Loot boxes in other games focus on cosmetic aspects that do not affect gameplay, but in Battlefront’s case players are essentially paying to win. Reddit user /u/TheHotterPotato did the math and concluded that it would take players 40 hours to unlock a single character without spending money. While this may work in fighting games such as Mortal Kombat, it feels out of place having to unlock characters in a game that is heavily based on popular characters like Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader.

To address fan’s outrage, EA defended the decision on Reddit, stating that its “intent is to provide players with a sense of pride and accomplishment for unlocking different heroes.” The comment quickly became the most downvoted comment in Reddit history with -683000 votes with the second most only having -24333. This forced EA to reconsider its options.

After receiving such a strong backlash, the company announced the decision to get rid of microtransactions a day before launch. They also decreased the cost of certain characters through in-game currency by 75 percent, but the damage had already been done and company representatives have already stated that the transactions will return at a later time.

This is not the first, second or even third instance of EA letting fans down. They constantly release projects that are incomplete in order to get customers to buy additional substance. Mass Effect 3 is one of the biggest examples of this, coming out with an optional $20 story to add on to the plot of the game on the day of its release. Buying downloadable content is fine, but when it feels like it was once a part of the original game, it becomes underwhelming and customers feel betrayed.

It’s obvious that the company only cares about its financial success, being voted the worst company in America two years in a row by Consumerist.

We can all sit here and complain about how EA likes to screw over its customers, but to really get the message across, gamers need to take a stand and not buy these games, which is already happening. Since the game was released, the company’s stock has dropped down 2.5 percent. The only way EA will ever change is if it sees its money begin to fall.

I’ll never forgot how much fun I had playing the original Star Wars: Battlefront games. Every character was there for me to play as and everything was balanced. Sadly, today’s generation will not be able to experience the same feeling I had growing up. We may have won the battle against EA today, but the war against the dark side has only begun.

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