1. We have added a Gift Upgrades feature that allows you to gift an account upgrade to another member, just in time for the holiday season. You can see the gift option when going to the Account Upgrades screen, or on any user profile screen.
    Dismiss Notice

The Battlefront 2 saga

Discussion in 'All Other Games' started by sherbz, Nov 18, 2017.

  1. sherbz

    sherbz Emperor

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2009
    Messages:
    1,517
    Location:
    London
    And so, it seems, it has come to an end, or at least a temporary pause. For those who have missed it, here is a brief synopsis/timeline:

    - EA announce a progression system in game that is tied to micro transactions
    - The Beta launches, and people can see for themselves how the system works
    - Fans are not happy, and complain that its far too grindy and that it reduces the game down to the level of a F2P game
    - EA announces that 2 of the primary characters in the game - Luke Skywalker and darth Vader. Are behind a paywall and only unlockable after a rather large number of "points" have been earned. You can of course speed this process up if you buy loot boxes.
    - There is a huge backlash to this. People take en masse to reddit to complain. With some pointing out that in order to unlock 1 single character, it would take roughly 40 odd hours game time - and thats with ignoring any upgrades to the base classes, and to unlock everything using paid loot boxes, estimates have ranged from $3,000 to $4,500
    - EA posts a response to the developing crisis. Which reads as follows:


    - The community goes Ape. In a mere few hours, this comment attracted more than 500,000 down votes. to put this in context, the next closest comment in reddits history that received "the most downvotes", was a comment that specifically asked people to downvote it, and it achieved a whopping 26,000 or so. So EA's response gathered more than 20 times that in the space of a mere few hours.
    - PS4 metacritic user review is opened. At the time of writing, battlefront 2 has a user score of 0.8. And 5,091 people have cast their votes.
    - EA backtracks slightly and announces that the hero classes (i.e. Darth Vader and Skywalker), will be discounted by 75%
    - Allegedly, the CEO of Disney contacts the CEO of EA to discuss the problem. EA's share price, meanwhile, takes a 6% hit.
    - News outlets start running the story, which is unusual for a computer game
    - EA decides to suspend micro transactions in the game. their official response is that they are going to "refine" and "tune" them. Quite what this means we are yet to discover.

    So in conclusion, its a moderate victory for gamers and the consumer. This was but a battle, yet the war is still to be decided. I hear that the Dutch and Belgians are looking into this issue of simulated gambling. And i myself have raised it with my member of parliament, who has assured me that he will be sending a letter to the relevant select committee in parliament in order to examine whether this is an exploitative market practice that should fall under existing gambling legislation. I hope that it does.

    Other games on the radar are:

    Shadows of war
    Call of Duty
    Fifa
    Need for Speed
    NBK

    All of these have a pay to win feature. I have been following this for many months now. And fortunately, the opportunity has now presented itself where a games company has decided to attack the right market, in the right place, and the right time. Unless you are EA of course. But quite frankly, you reap what you sow. And if legislation comes in that removes their rights in other games because of this debacle, then quite frankly they only have themselves to blame.

    Ask any gamer whether they would have wanted loot crates or micro transactions in the game (rather than just unlocking them or cheating) and i can guarantee that 95%+ would be opposed. The trouble is though that the 1% of people who go all in on this practice generate huge amounts of capital to games companies. So it is and should be our duty to say that "NO", we do not accept this as a market practice in games that are not "F2P". All these reasons that EA and the like give us for their inclusion - that players have asked for them and its a way of keeping engagement, is utter and puerile nonsense. The main reason for them is to exploit that 1% of the market. And their main interest is in making that target market as wide as possible.. And that is purely and simply down to GREED. They have stopped trying to make a great game thats enjoyed by people. All they care about is making money.
     
  2. Leonel

    Leonel Breakfast Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2001
    Messages:
    10,348
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    I just wanna play some battles in pre-Empire, Empire, and post-Empire Star Wars!
     
  3. sherbz

    sherbz Emperor

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2009
    Messages:
    1,517
    Location:
    London
    I am afraid those battles are only available if you have a certain number of star cards. Please come back once you have obtained a sense of achievement and accomplishment. If you would liek to play those battles now, then you can buy 20 loot crates via our online market place for the mere price of €40. Where you might, or might not, actually get what you need.
     
  4. sherbz

    sherbz Emperor

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2009
    Messages:
    1,517
    Location:
    London
    And there we have it, the Belgian investigation has declared that loot boxes and micro transactions are considered gambling in a computer game and they want an EU wide ban and EA could be facing a significant fine. Sucks to be them, but i have zero sympathy what so ever.

     
  5. Maniacal

    Maniacal the green Napoleon

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2005
    Messages:
    18,778
    Location:
    British Columbia, Canada
    EA will put microtransactions back in down the road, but this is a win, even if a small one.

    Too bad the game still kind of sucks, it has zero teamwork, communication or longevity.
     
  6. Bugfatty300

    Bugfatty300 Buddha Squirrel

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2003
    Messages:
    10,140
    Location:
    Mexico
    Gamers are just now making a noticiable fuss? Personally I put my food down over buggy unfinished releases and intrusive DRM. I haven't bought a new game in nearly a decade.

    It's really frustrating that large game publishers have financially thrived for all these years while cutting product content, demanding more money and treating it's customers with utter contempt.
     
  7. sherbz

    sherbz Emperor

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2009
    Messages:
    1,517
    Location:
    London
    Im not so sure whether they will be able to - at least not in a game like star wars battlefront. The sentiment is very much that loot boxes and micro transactions need to be regulated by the government. And this will probably take shape in the form of classifications - so any game that has micro transactions in the form of loot boxes that is tied to a progression system will automatically attract an 18 and over certificate. It may even go further and any form of loot box or micro transaction that relies on a random "reward", irrespective of whether thats tied to a progression system, will be classified an adult only game (Overwatch, team fortress 2, league of legends etc). I think this would be the best outcome. And publishers will only have themselves to blame for the wanton greed that they have exhibited. And ultimately publishers like EA will not want to freeze off a large part of their sales potential. The moment Battlefront 2 gets an adult rating, parents wont buy it for their kids, kids legally cannot buy the game etc. You also have to consider whether Disney would want to have one of its biggest franchises associated with a game that encourages gambling. I wouldnt be surprised at all if EA loses the rights to the franchise over this. And quite frankly it would serve them right.

    Of course, no doubt there will be some other money making scheme. I think that tends to be the nature with big developers. But if developers in the indie market can make bucket loads of cash without putting micro transactions and the like in, then im pretty sure AAA publishers can do the same in some of the big franchises. I can only see the indie market getting bigger if current trends continue.

    One things for sure though, publishers will be very nervous now about including micro transactions in any release, particularly if its not an adult only game. The way publishers were talking at the start of the year demonstrated a total arrogance of their market, and many were even boasting about how this is the year where micro transactions and loot chests would become the next big thing - and that people wanted this stuff. I could not believe my eyes when i saw developers talk about their "in game markets" and "loot chests" as though thats what their target market were actually asking for. Thankfully (or is it ironically) EA over stepped the mark and the gaming community exploded in their face. And it amuses me greatly that now EA face not only having restrictions placed on battlefront 2, but also in all their other games as well. And, again, serves them right.

    If it takes government intervention to achieve a sense of control over this, then so be it. Time and time again self regulation fails. Which saddens me really. But we are where we are. And thats getting the government to step in.
     
  8. Maniacal

    Maniacal the green Napoleon

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2005
    Messages:
    18,778
    Location:
    British Columbia, Canada
    Doesn't seem likely, considering they still don't seem to get it (that the gameplay affecting ones are bad) and aren't interested in changing their minds. I think this sums it up prtetty well at this point:



    "Cosmetic lootboxes wouldn't work, because we balanced progression around you buying Star Cards."- Rick_EDC137


    Also this:
    is a really, really dumb example. They already have non-canon stuff in the game with people from different time periods fighting each other in places they didn't fight each other in canon. Plus a pink Vader would probably be a popular cosmetic item, and there are lots of other cosmetic items you could make that would still be in canon...

    https://www.greenmangaming.com/news...giving-micro-transactions-battlefront-ii/amp/

    https://www.reddit.com/r/pcgaming/comments/7gcmtl/ea_not_giving_up_on_microtransactions_in/
     
  9. sherbz

    sherbz Emperor

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2009
    Messages:
    1,517
    Location:
    London
  10. civvver

    civvver Deity

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2007
    Messages:
    5,854
    I don't think there's anything really wrong with micro transactions, even content behind paywalls. Of course EA is just out to make money, that's the sole purpose of corporations. So if releasing a partially complete game and putting stuff behind paywalls makes them more money then they should be doing that. But if customers get pissed off and don't buy the game, then they shouldn't do that, and that's what's happening because they pushed it too far. They misjudged their customer base and made a bad business decision.

    The issue with their stuff is the randomness of the loot boxes and deceptive advertising. If you buy a game with vader and luke on the box then you expect to be able to play them right? I'm making this up as I don't play the game and have no plans to, but it depends on how it's marketed. If it's clear certain features cost extra and you're buying like a lite version of the game then fine. Just like how mmo's used to put that small print on the back of boxes that said online subscription required. I think it should've been on the front in big letters but whatever.

    And then the random loot box contents is gambling and shouldn't be allowed. Unlocking vader should be a static and known price whatever it is. That's exploitative and there's no regulation to say what your odds are. When you play the lotto you have the odds printed on your ticket. They don't change arbitrarily so the lotto commission can make more money off you.
     
  11. sherbz

    sherbz Emperor

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2009
    Messages:
    1,517
    Location:
    London
    Leaving aside the issue of whether loot boxes and micro transactions are good or bad for video games. The inclusion of loot boxes and in game systems that encourage the use of micro transactions for randomised rewards should not be a feature of any game that is played by children. Especially when that game is already charging you $50 - $100 as a starting price. For good reason, there are rules and regulations when it comes to gambling. And gambling games are also restricted to over 18s. The fact that loot crates spit out in game rewards or cosmetic items and not cash is a fairly moot point in my view. EXACTLY the same systems exist as they do in casinos and gambling games. And EXACTLY the same goal is pursued by the creators. They want to get you playing, get addicted, and pay money over and over. You could argue that this is ok in games played by adults only (I wouldnt. I find market practices that try to exploit whales for thousands of dollars/pounds immoral and worthy of regulation in themselves). But it is not ok when kids are concerned. There it should be an outright ban. And if they want them in other games, then it should get an automatic adult certificate in my view and also be regulated so that odds are clearly displayed. This is the position that should be adopted by the ESRB. And if they do not, then it will be time for the government to step in. This is the solution for the gaming market where you pay money for games. The only question is who ends up doing it - the games industry themselves or the government.

    The next question is what to do with the F2P market. Here it is more difficult as the product on offer is free. But should regulation reach out here as well? I would say yes. And similar principles as above should be applied. This is something that Apple and Google will need to consider.

    A final mention should go to trading card games. Should regulation be employed here too? I would say no (with a caveat). Whilst its true that you pay money for randomised cards, every card that you get is useful in its own way. And the ones you do not want you can trade away with other players. If any regulation is needed, then certain tiers of cards and the odds you have of getting them should be clearly printed on the pack.
     
  12. civvver

    civvver Deity

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2007
    Messages:
    5,854
    Well yes we are in agreement there and I said as much. I just said micro transactions might make for a crap game but shouldn't be disallowed, it's the random ones that should be.

    It's a thin line between what's ok and what's not though. Take dota2 for instance, you can only buy cosmetics which is great, no paywalls to play. I have not played league of legends but I have read that you must grind a lot of games to unlock more heroes and unlock extra skills on them or alternatively you can pay money. New heroes cost money and are usually op. Not so in dota, everyone gets access to everything. What you can buy are outfits and couriers for every hero. Kinda cool, they go on sale and stuff, some look nice, none affect gameplay just kind of neat to collect.

    Now the tricky part is most cosmetics come in loot boxes that contain 5-12 different items for different heroes. They guarantee you will not get duplicates to encourage buying them all to get the one outfit for the hero you want. Ok that's not too awful, if I want hero x and I get hero y I might drop another $2-3 for another set. At most I buy all the sets and get all the items. It's kind of like gambling but not really cus you always get some prize it just might not be the one you want. What is gambling though is every box contains a rare and ultra rare which are random and really low drop rates so people will buy tons of boxes to try and get them. Alternatively if you are patient you can buy them on the steam market like 6 months later when they unlock for trading. That's cool cus it's always cheaper than if you buy boxes and have average luck, but at the same time it encourages people to buy boxes for a shot at a rare that they can sell for real money on the steam market. I say real loosely as the money is really credit to your steam account to buy more pc games or items. But you get the idea.

    It's not as manipulative as what EA is doing but it could still be considered bad.
     
  13. sherbz

    sherbz Emperor

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2009
    Messages:
    1,517
    Location:
    London
    EA strikes again:



    Now this is an interesting side show. If the outrage over micro transactions leap frogs from the enthusiast market (i.e. Battlefront 2) to the sports market (i.e. Fifa, UFC, NBK), then EA might just be in for a world of hurt. They have been getting away with this for a few years now in the sports/casual market. Micro transactions and loot boxes are a common theme in these sorts of games. Probably because they are mostly played by people who are not really gamers. You could include a good chunk of COD players here as well. Along with Destiny players. But fan outrage seems to want to bring the house of cards down. And i am a 100% supporter. I have not had this much fun watching the gaming market since ever. Its like the beast has just awoken and has started to chew the hand off of its owner. We have certainly opened a can of worms here. The burning question is where will it end.

    The only parallel i can remember is when graphical violence suddenly became a thing (mostly through mortal kombat) and it led to the creation of the ESRB - who now rate all of our games for us. This is now as big if not bigger. And probably the most significant development in gaming, maybe, of all time.
     
  14. Evie

    Evie Pronounced like Eevee

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2002
    Messages:
    8,940
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    Ottawa, Ontario
    The whole loot box = gambling notion require some very special mental gymnastic (or it require us to reevaluate things that have been going on for a long time) to justify. Buying a random "box" (or pack, or whatever) that yields randomized goods is the whole trading card (including trading card games) industry among quite a few others, which have been around for many decades. Turning around and saying "they're gambling now" rather falls under "a bit late for that."

    Of course you could try to distinguish on the notion of virtual goods vs physical goods, but that's frankly a flimsy distinction. That virtual goods are "real" and have monetary value is a well established fact in our modern society (and trying to question that means bowling over a whole lot more than loot boxes). Moreover, it leads to some spectacular nonsense, like a regular cardboard MTG booster for a specific expansion at a specific price not being gambling, but the same booster, for the same specific expansion, in virtual form to be gambling. That's not really a legal argument that can stand even minimal scrutiny.

    Belgium, which was neck-deep into the trading cards industry via Carta Mundi, is being just a little bit hypocritical here, and much as I dislike loot boxes, I'm certainly not going to cheer for them. There are good reasons to question loot boxes, and good arguments to limit their use ; "It's gambling" is a flimsy one.
     
  15. sherbz

    sherbz Emperor

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2009
    Messages:
    1,517
    Location:
    London
    I wouldnt say its "gambling" in the literal sense. I would however say that it is "simulated gambling". I think the head of the UK gambling commission pretty much sums it up rather well, when he states:

    So whether a new definition comes in or whatever, i think it fair to say that some sort of change is needed. The real question is whether its going to be the government or the industry itself who enforces the regulation.

    What makes this so egregious though is that publishers like EA have deliberately made a competitive game unfair in order to encourage people to gamble (via simulated gambling). Its a bit like having a sports league with 20 teams, and the owner of league introducing a new rule. That rule states that teams can, if they pay £1,000, have 12 players on a team and not 11. Its their own free choice if they choose to have 12 players. What do you think is going to happen?

    And the fact that this system is employed in a game played by kids is quite frankly sick. I have seen all sorts of industry mis practice over the years - gambling, sexual content, distasteful titles etc. And also read with interest the media backlash against these titles. Yet here the average joe bloggs seems to be blissfully ignorant of the whole thing. Its only angry (and probably old) gamers like myself who are trying to force it up the agenda and actually asking for government regulation. You can be pretty sure that very few gamers were actually the ones calling for regulation in the gaming industry after the mortal kombat and graphical violence fiasco. So this movement in the industry is fairly unique in that respect. The only time i have ever seen a similar type of reaction has been with paid mods on Skyrim.
     
  16. Evie

    Evie Pronounced like Eevee

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2002
    Messages:
    8,940
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    Ottawa, Ontario
    "Simulated gambling?" I could see that referring to games where you can use your in-game money (eg, the cash you acrue through in-game actions, rather than real-world cash) can be gambled with. For example, the infamous Game Corner in Pokémon Red and Blue - that would be simulated gambling. In other words, game mechanisms that follow the mechanism of gambling, but without any actual monetary value being exchanged one way or the other.

    But something that isn't gambling when done with real goods doesn't magically become gambling OR simulated gambling when done with virtual goods. That require a twisted legal definition that makes absolutely no sense (and, again, it creates an unholy mess where it'S legal to sell people physical booster packs for trading card game, but not legal to sell them the virtual equivalent for the online game, which is a flabergasting lack of common sense).

    I guess one angle that could be used as a useful distinction is the trading one. With most randomized pack of goods (including online card games), trading (or purchasing from other players) is a key element, so you can acquire a particularly desirable card or other good by other means than just buying random pack after random pack. Loot boxes, to my understanding, lack the trading element, forcing the player to keep buying loot boxes until they get what they want, so that angle may be turned into a useful distinction.

    The head of the british legal commission...well, a legal definition, by definition, is what a commission is in charge of enforcing. Ignoring that definition and simply proclaiming something is banned "because parents are worried" is plain old abuse of government power. If the law provides for the commission to be able to change the definition, then the commission needs to change the definition by the legal process ; if it does not, then parliament need to pass a law to that effect.

    When the rule of law plays second fiddle to moral outrage, we all pay the price.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2017
  17. sherbz

    sherbz Emperor

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2009
    Messages:
    1,517
    Location:
    London
    This is basically why self regulation is the best option. But the sad fact is that i dont think the industry is capable of doing it. The alternative is that the government get involved. Which will involve them re defining gambling. Then the gambling commission can actually do something about it. And that scope may be far further than anyone currently realises.

    Heres a bit more on the topic for those interested:

     
  18. Evie

    Evie Pronounced like Eevee

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2002
    Messages:
    8,940
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    Ottawa, Ontario
    Redefining gambling is a difficult approach. Making a new law would be much easier.
     
  19. sherbz

    sherbz Emperor

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2009
    Messages:
    1,517
    Location:
    London
    This is probably one of the best videos i have seen on the topic. It charts the history of loot boxes and MTX. Where tehy came from, the games responsible, EA and their strategy over the past 5 years, and where this will probably end. Fascinating, well researched and brilliant.

     
  20. sherbz

    sherbz Emperor

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2009
    Messages:
    1,517
    Location:
    London


    Hilarious stuff at the annual game awards. First one of the presenters for the awards is about to open the envelope, and then stops saying he cant open it until he pays a micro transaction, whereupon the whole audience laughs at EA's expense. Then Bethesda do a spoof montage of how single players are being ignored and that Bethesda is where a home can be found. Which is a slap in the face to EA, whose CFO said last week something along the lines of "players today do not like linear single player games", which was in response to questions about why they canned Visceral games who were making a linear star wars game. The complete opposite is true of course. Players do like single player games. Its just that Visceral had the audacity to make a game where EA could not fill it with micro transactions and loot chests and then flog it as a service game. And finally, some drunk developer gets on stage and with the use of foul language, tells the audience how EA had "F*'d" up (sorry in advance to any mods. I know you arent supposed to swear or mask swearing on the forums, but if its an actual quote is that ok?).

    You would think its fairly telling when all their peers are laughing at their expense. If i were the shareholders i would be very concerned that EA are being seen both inside and outside the industry as a joke.
     

Share This Page