After a week of controversy, EA and developer DICE rollback microtransactions.
Late yesterday afternoon, Star Wars Battlefront II’s premium currency, Crystals, began disappearing from digital storefronts. After a torrid week for publisher EA, many speculated that the removal of Crystals was done to curb accusations of pay-to-win progression systems. Several hours after rumors began to circulate the web, DICE General Manager Oskar Gabrielson released a new statement announcing the temporary removal of Crystals from the game while the developer looks to rework aspects of multiplayer progression.
While some corners of the web rejoiced and declared the removal of Crystals as a victory, others pointed out that Gabrielson was clear that once EA and DICE feel the game is balanced, they’ll bring Crystal back. One of the game’s most vocal communities, the Star Wars Battlefront subreddit, seems to be largely unmoved by the statement last night, and some have suggested that it was nothing more than a publicity stunt to reduce bad press on launch day.
Regardless of the reasoning, the removal of Crystals is a decent step from EA and DICE, but it’s merely a band-aid for a game marred by a confusing progression system. Even without the ability to purchase Crystals, those who farm the most credits (Battlefront II’s in-game currency) will be able to buy more Loot Crates and upgrade more Star Cards to ramp up the effectiveness of their characters’ abilities. The ability modifiers range from the mundane (faster weapon cool-downs) to egregious (a more powerful aim-assist). The removal of Crystals prevents high-spending consumers, sometimes referred to as “whales”, from spending hundreds or even thousands on premium currency, but it won’t stop the power disparity between Battlefront II’s casual and hardcore communities.
During an AMA earlier this week, DICE Design Director Dennis Brannvall said the team was currently looking to expand cosmetic customization in future updates. As a result of his announcement, one of the most popular suggestions from fans is that if microtransactions must make a return, they should only contain cosmetic items – similar to what players are used to from games like Overwatch. Only time will tell if EA will move to cosmetics-only Crate economy or if they’ll stick with the current progression system with all its baggage.
Instead of waiting for EA and DICE to make the next move, users on Reddit and Twitter are continuing to hammer the developer and publisher on social media. The community on Reddit is so displeased with the half-step EA made last night that the front page of the subreddit looks like this:
Based on how the last week has unfolded, it seems Battlefront II will remain in the spotlight until the game is in a state that fans are happy with. To keep up with Battlefront II development and the controversy surrounding it, keep an eye on the game’s social platforms.
What do you think about the removal of Crystals? Is this far enough for EA, or do more changes need to be made to Star Wars Battlefront II? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter.