Star Wars Battlefront 2: Revenge of the Microtransactions

Sarvesh Mayilvahanan, Sports Editor

Game developers have started a trend in the last five years tailored to maximizing profit, regardless of player feedback, because of the success of microtransactions in mobile games. In an attempt to emulate this success, there has been a rise in microtransactions in games, particularly large console and PC titles, which has created a culture of greed in the gaming community. The complete monetization of these games has continued to be a common theme because of its effectiveness. A study by SuperData found that revenue from microtransactions has doubled since 2012 to $22 billion this year. Developers earn billions of dollars more through microtransactions and downloadable content (DLC), which only further incentivizes this process.

The majority of microtransactions have been cosmetic and don’t affect the gameplay and experience for players, which should be allowed in games. However, several games, most notably Star Wars Battlefront 2, have begun to link them with gameplay, giving an unfair advantage to those who spend significant amounts of money. This type of microtransaction has no place in video games because of its blatant exploitation of players. Fans of the game have been outraged by the money grab from game developers, but there has not been a large backlash until the catastrophic Battlefront 2 events over the past few months.

Star Wars Battlefront 2 was announced in April of 2017 and was largely met with enthusiasm by fans of the famous game franchise. There was hope that Electronic Arts (EA), the game’s developer, would incorporate community feedback from the first iteration of the game to make it even better. However, when players played the beta version of the game, they realized there were microtransactions that created a pay-to-win system. The game implemented a loot-box system in which players essentially gambled money to get in-game items that gave them an unfair advantage. The issue with this is that anyone, even those under the age of 18, can gamble freely with no repercussions. Although countries have begun to regulate this aspect of games, there needs to be more action quickly. This set off a large protest that prompted a response from EA, which became the most downvoted comment of all time on Reddit with approximately 600,000 downvotes. Players have every right to be outraged as the actions of EA and other game developers have explicitly exploited them. These events led to EA apologizing to fans and agreeing to take out microtransactions for the time being. However, they have implied that they will make a return to the game some time after the full release. Additionally, Battlefront 2 was announced along with several DLCs to come later in 2017 and 2018. The game was released with only partially finished content and required players to pay additional money to unlock the rest of the game, which is unacceptable and again reaches into the pockets of consumers for only financial gain. These systems implemented in Battlefront 2 are vastly different from other free-to-play games because spending money within the game directly leads to a distinct advantage. The game cost the standard $60 with an additional $40 for each major Star Wars hero.

While the Battlefront debacle brought an immense amount of negative attention to game developers, microtransactions and DLCs will continue in future games. The unfortunate truth is that these methods make companies money and public outrage over the issue is not going to stop them from sucking gamers dry of their money.