What was meant to be a well-timed Star Wars game right before The Last Jedi — getting fans excited by letting them romp around locations from the new movies — turned into quite the opposite for Star Wars Battlefront II.
Of course there’s a “but” coming.
The ability to pay real money for more blatant advantages such as “+30% Health” muddled monetisation with design. Fans went into a righteous rage. Unlocking all of your favourite characters would have taken a ridiculous amount of time (which was later changed). In the end Disney joined in, looking to protect its Star Wars brand. EA pulled all microtransactions temporarily before launch.
The debacle capped off a year in which EA hadn’t been the best custodian of three key franchises: Mass Effect, Need for Speed, and Star Wars.
Since then, the phrase “pride and accomplishment” — used by a community manager to defend the game’s reward systems in what is now the most downvoted Reddit post ever — has become the industry’s new punchline.
Developers left and right are having digs, and my favourite comes from Battlerite. There’s now an extremely expensive pose called the Dab of Pride and Accomplishment.
It’s all in good fun to throw some well-earned shade at the massive publisher, but in truth I’m a bit worried the buzz around this issue leans too far towards anti-EA sentiment instead of what it should be: A wider discussion about loot box gambling systems. Both cosmetic and otherwise.
As I noted before, if the games industry isn’t willing to self-regulate on this, it’ll be done for them. It’s already happening.
Until then, Battlefront II will be held up as the posterboy for how not to do things. Which kind of puts games like Overwatch in the category of “games which do it right,” but be warned, dear reader. There’s no such thing as a “player first” loot box system. These are set up to benefit one party only, and the house always wins.
Still. That doesn’t mean we can’t have fun with it. The above video imagines what Battlefront II would have been like if it only offered cosmetic microtransactions. For context, an EA executive had previously claimed this was impossible, because then we’d end up with a pink Darth Vader.
With my pedant hat on, squishing three generations of force users together cancels out any canon-based argument. And what’s so bad about a pink Darth Vader?
Enjoy the video!