Star Wars Battlefront 2 reworking loot crates

What a time we live in, when Star Wars is crassly monetised. What a world! The idea this dear little mom & pop franchise of movies, comics, cartoons, toys, novels, statues, t-shirts, nappies, waffle irons, Christmas decorations, and tiki mugs could ever be used to wring pennies from pockets… it doesn’t bear thinking about. But EA were trying to do just that with Star Wars Battlefront 2, packing upgrades into virtual loot crates that can — optionally — be bought for real money. Scandalous! So with the game’s launch now mere weeks away, EA have announced changes to make loot crates and progression slightly less gittish.

EA detailed the new progression plan in a blog post today:

  • Epic Star Cards, the highest tier of Star Cards available at launch, have been removed from Crates. To help keep everyone on a level playing field, these Star Cards will primarily be available through crafting, with the exception of special Epic Star Cards available through pre-order, deluxe, and starter packs.
  • You’ll need to reach a certain rank to craft upgraded Star Cards. You won’t be able to buy a bunch of Crates, grind everything up into crafting materials, and immediately use them to get super powerful Star Cards. You can only upgrade the ability to craft higher tier Star Cards by ranking up through playing the game.
  • Weapons are locked behind specific milestones. While a select few will be found in Crates, the rest can only be attained by play. Want to unlock a new weapon for your Heavy? Play as a Heavy and you’ll gain access to the class’s new weapons.
  • Class-specific gear and items can be unlocked by playing as them. As you progress through your favorite class, you’ll hit milestones granting you class-specific Crates. These will include a mix of Star Cards and Crafting Parts to benefit your class’s development.

So people with cash to flash will still be able to skip some grind, but hopefully it’ll be less sucky for players who don’t fancy paying extra in a game which already costs £55?

EA say these plans “will be continually iterated on and improved” too.

I’d love to see EA’s projections on how much money they think they can wring out of people with microtransactions versus how much financial damage they estimate will be caused by the presence of irritating and exploitative systems. Someone must surely have been tasked with crunching those numbers, right? The sad thing is, it probably does make financial sense. This is Star Wars, after all.

Star Wars Battlefront 2 is due out on November 16th. Young Matthew Cox will tell you it does seem pretty good fun.

40 Comments

  1. Banks says:

    They won’t do shit. It’s too late to change something that it’s at the root of the design.

    Maybe for Battlefront 3 they decide to treat the player who just spent 60$ on their game a little better.

    • wz says:

      “Maybe for Battlefront 3 they decide”

      This is not a response to player reaction. Reaction was known & expected. AAA studios also do focus testing on multi-million dollar projects. Planned.

      SWBF2 = PvP game. EA shattered a basic PvP competition tenet. P2W=Locking power behind grind, giving players option to skip grind via $$$. Power can be situational: items powerful for certain maps, playstyles, classes, above or below certain skill levels, team strategies. Player with lots of situational items can choose at spawn: more powerful frequently.

      Requirement for $$$ pressure: Unlock playtime less than grind. Simple. Grind can be linked performance=super-casual movie fans and kids find performance hard. Hard for them to grind lower tier star cards.

      Expected reception. Planned response.

      Planned: future situational item power+flooding items to make grind hard+stealth drop rate & crafting nerfs+maps&balance changes favoring situational items+stronger pressure in future games.

      Pay for gameplay = guaranteed $$$ pressure in design. Simple to remove ability to pay if EA CEO wanted.

      Planned staged release of feeding hype scraps: positive reaction to gamescom/E3 demos. Missed criticism. Damage done. Full extent still unknown. Critics will not be given full balance model numbers, time, or freedom to release reviews weeks before release – too late for casual movie fans regardless.

      Unethical real $$$ gambling losses. Gambling in sheep’s clothing, addiction @ movie fans&kids: limited skill&time. Gameplay item gambling = 100% unavoidable even for handful somehow playing a movie-tie in without being interested in lore/art.

    • SuperTim says:

      Well, sorry to tell you that won’t happen. This PR message is released as planned.

      For the last 10+ games now, EA has designed something really terrible to create hype, and a few days later they will issue a statement that it will be loosen up one bit.

      How many more press releases until you realise this is all a planned PR campaign? There’s a pattern there, and it’s not going to get better until you stop spending any money for a pay-to-lose game.

  2. DanMan says:

    This won’t make it any better for people who buy the game later on. They will have to face a big gap of abilities and gear. But maybe that’s part of the plan to coerce them into spending money to unlock those, so they can compete. Good luck there, EA. You’ll need it.

    • Unclepauly says:

      Luck is removed from the equation when Star Wars is involved.

    • Imperialist says:

      I mean…its a shooter. Dice is pretty good at balancing their weapons and abilities (a few exceptions, but still). If a new player is good at shooters, it likely wont be much of a hurdle because “they are behind”. None of the cards ive seen really struck me as such an advantage that you couldnt live without it.

      And yeah, this game literally cant flop, due to SW branding.

      • darthfergie says:

        Worked well in SW Battlefront for DICE. Han’s blaster was a menace for weeks and weeks. A lvl 40 item that was a deluxe order bonus.

        “Epic weapons” will be easier to craft for loot boxers. Epic weapons are balanced by other epic weapons. You can hold your own through some skill, but picking this up a month or two after release you will be pitting that skill against weapons with higher damage, rate of fire, etc.

        Want their epic weapon? Grind away because the lootbox might give you parts for epic binoculars instead or whatever. A worthwhile $60 experience if I’ve ever seen one.

  3. Sakkura says:

    I just wonder if they planned it this way. Announce a monetization scheme that was so obviously over the line, so they can dial it back a little and get people to accept more than they otherwise would have.

    • benkc says:

      That *is* how it feels, to me.

    • ColonelFlanders says:

      It’s a classic bait and switch. Give people something so shitty that by the time it’s ingrained in our psyche just how shitty it is, they pull it and replace it with something that seems acceptable in comparison, thus the player Base is mollified.

      Kinda like what Thatcher did with poll tax and council tax. Saying that it honestly wouldn’t surprise me if EA modelled themselves after her.

  4. GrumpyCatFace says:

    Look, we’ve designed this activity for you to enjoy – it’s just $60! (plus tax)

    Now, when you play it, you can either spend 100 hours on it, losing and replaying, ORRRRRRR>..
    For just $5, we’ll sell you some pretend lottery tickets, that you can use to maybe, hopefully get a useful unlock that will allow you to play more effectively!
    Of course, you want to win the game against those silly people that are all still grinding, right? Because that means that you’re a Very Good Player, and should feel good about yourself.

    LINE UP, KIDS!!! :rubs his hands together:

  5. Freud says:

    Too late. The only language EA speaks is money and I’m not on talking terms with them anymore. Haven’t bought an EA game in years and have no intention of starting. The sleaziest publisher in a market filled with them.

    Ever since they hit a gold mine with the packs for their sports games, everything is just about sucking the consumer dry. In the process, every bit of creativity is sucked out of the games and companies to make them since EA is only interested in games as vehicles for microtransactions, season passes and DLCs.

    • Winstons says:

      Bang on. This is really the epitome of when a creative medium of entertainment has fully been transformed into merely a vehicle of extracting maximum amount of $$$ with the minimal of effort, with a system designed to target the most vulnerable.

  6. FreakazoidRobot says:

    Much less egregious, but still pay to win.The loot boxes still give players an advantage for star cards, both for the ones less than 4 stars, and also because you’ll lose to same leveled players until you grind the parts for the cards you need. Class buffs should have NOTHING to do with loot boxes at all. I just wish they’d stick to cosmetic micro-transactions.

    • sosolidshoe says:

      It’s only people being accepting of cosmetics MTs that allowed them to get this far. Unless and until people say categorically, unequivocally, “no MTs of any form whatsoever in full-price games”, they’re going to keep pushing their luck and eventually enough kids will have grown up playing games riddled with pseudogambling and real-cash sinks they’ll succeed.

      Not that I expect enough people to actually do that. There will be more outcries and more backtracking, no doubt, but the trajectory is fixed now and the corporate publishers know that – whether or not full-price games are eventually just as exploitative as F2P games is now dependent pretty much entirely on whether or not automation-induced scarcity reduction leads to the collapse of capitalism before they finish boiling the frog.

      Also, this backtrack isn’t even really a backtrack – OK, so you can only get the good cards by crafting. Where do you get crafting materials from again? Oh aye, f***ing crates. In teeny-tiny quantities as well.

      • MattM says:

        As Jim Sterling pointed out, there is a possibility for a collapse and reversal. Facebook games were huge but when they were too crap for too long the market went away taking down what looked like unbeatable juggernaut in Zynga.
        I like Marvel comics, but they kept using stratigies that boosted short-term sales but drove away long-term readers.

  7. fuzzyfuzzyfungus says:

    So, they’ve concluded that their attempt to boil the frog without being noticed was just a trifle too blatant; and they are dialing back incrementally.

    This isn’t a change of heart, just adjusting their sights. And, since online games can change at the publisher’s discretion at any time in the future; prepare for a round of “I am altering the deal”(only 99 cents to get that as an event emote to spam audio chat!) if they think people are getting used to today’s offer.

  8. M0dusPwnens says:

    I’m honestly shocked that they’re keeping the “Star Cards” concept.

    I played a bit of the beta for the first game, and it was one of the most blatantly crass concepts I’ve ever seen in any game, even in this age of infinite monetization – you can almost imagine the meeting where they came up with the idea: “I heard collecting cards is big right now, does the game have cards?” “We need something to monetize, cards sound perfect, can we put some cards in the game?” “We need to stay on-brand though, so let’s call them…Star Cards.”.

    They are in absolutely no way cards. They’re just equipment and even guns with cooldowns. There is no “card” metaphor anywhere to be found.

    And now they’re adding “rarity” to them? Even color-coding it with the traditional white/green/blue/purple scheme?

    If I had seen a comic about Star Cards, not only would I assume it was just a joke, I would probably roll my eyes – it’s a particularly BAD joke.

    And that name. “Star Cards”. That was the cleverest term they could come up with, just stick the word “Star” in front of it?

  9. duns4t says:

    Alice, I am loving all of your posts today! Please post this much every day thank you.

    As for the EA tack, it seems to make everyone’s “progression” experience a little less random, which is good, but doesn’t seem to address the core issue at all, which is that there are pay-to-win advantages available. And maybe it’s because I try to work on my backlog and tend to buy games behind the curve, but it’s never a good design for early comers to have a performance advantage over newcomers. Early adopters already bear advantages of play experience, map knowledge, and muscle memory.

  10. Blackcompany says:

    CDProjekt Red has given the industry a template. Complete with how to properly handle paid for DLC.

    If, despite millions spent on marketing, engines and development, they cannot be bothered to follow it – despite their gross willingness to copy literally everything else ever seen in game design – on their heads be it.

    While the individual, rank and file employees always have my sympathy, the likes of Ubi and EA can go rot for all I care. They have more than enough money, tech and time to simply make games we WANT to play, and follow them up with ACTUAL CONTENt that we WANT to buy. And they still choose cheap, addict-targeting, Skinner Box monetization schemes instead.

    Another EA studio just bit the dust recently, and they STILL learned nothing. When at last gamers have finally had enough of the likes of Ubi, EA and Bethesda, the only thing I’ll have left to say while loading up the latest game from Techland, Supergiant or Double Damage is “Good Riddance.”

    • Phantom_Renegade says:

      The EA studio that bit it was the only one not working on lootboxes. So I’d say that’s more then likely the real reason for shuttering the studio.

      • Splyce says:

        Ironically, that game was as criticized for not including enough of the standard Star Wars Canon, Jedis and Wookies and stuff, but this game has you “crafting” “Star Cards” of various “rarities”. Not sure I remember that part of the movie, but hey, if it costs money, why not?

        • Someoldguy says:

          They were all hidden in the boxes you see lying about, but Luke and Darth didn’t stop to open them. Maybe if Palp had popped a few more before the final confrontation he’d still be ruling the galaxy!

    • KingFunk says:

      +1 to the CDPR love. I mean, Blood and Wine was genuinely better and more extensive than many ‘full’ games…

  11. Horg says:

    ”Star Cards will primarily be available through crafting, with the exception of special Epic Star Cards available through pre-order, deluxe, and starter packs.”

    The previous pay-to-win system was bad. The new pay to win system with some content locked behind pre-order bonus packs is worse.

  12. Premium User Badge

    Alikari says:

    The worst part for me is ‘crafting’ unlocks. God why can I not just play a game? Why can I just not get into a game and play it without having to worry about grinding for cards, or collecting power gems for unlocks or distilling point-juice from the special mangoes which you can pour onto the unlock tree or some other such nonsense? I don’t want to have to monitor my bingo-bango points so I can craft the next unlock. I don’t mind if the system is in-game, like XP in an RPG or something like that, but when its tied to an outside loot-box or something like that? Nope.

    I just want to play the game. This game looks fun, the gameplay videos I’ve seen make it look entertaining, but now I’ve either got to handicap myself by ignoring the system or ruin my own fun by engaging with it. Or just not buy it at all. I know which way I’m leaning.

  13. the_anderthal says:

    Even without the $microtransactions$, this system is horrendous. People who play more having outright better abilities is an awful system. And those are the most boring upgrades imaginable like + x% of damage or armor. What are they thinking? What happened to side-grades and just unlocking weapons or abilities which are different, but not necessarily better? Get a god damn grip EA.

  14. Rindan says:

    This is great news actually. I have a lot of games I have yet to play, and the list is always getting longer. It’s sometimes nice to just cross a game off the list; bonus points if it is an EA game.

    Now that they have clarified that they are building a system where new players are apparently fucked by inferior gear/abilities and that the only way to unfuck yourself is to grind the class you are apparently going to play exclusively, I know not to waste my money.

    The fuck head that introduced grinding to multiplayer FPSs should be taken out back and shot.

    If they want to try and skim a few more bucks off of people by selling them cosmetics; eh, fine, whatever. If they are telling me ahead of time that they have fucked up game play to make it a miserable experience to provoke you to spend cash, fuck’em.

    • MattM says:

      Its funny to think of bad news about a game being a relief, but I feel the same way about being able to cross upcoming games off of my list of stuff to play or even think about. Its only really a problem for me when its a sequel to a series I love that is in the middle of its story.

    • GrumpyCatFace says:

      Battlefield introduced grinding, with the weapon unlocks and ranks and medals and othe Skinner boxes. It’s an incredibly effective way to boost playtimes.

  15. Premium User Badge

    Grizzly says:

    I don’t really get it: Battlefield 1 and Overwatch make do just fine with crates that contain only cosmetic items. If it’s good enough for them it should be good enough for this :-|

  16. drewski says:

    That first paragraph made me chuckle.

    And yeah, add me to the list of people relieved that this is game I can just write off up front as being not for me.

  17. Kurtismayfield says:

    They do realize that people can stop buying their crap, just like the cable industry is right?

  18. HoboDragon says:

    If we are quoting other companies: what about Rockstart and GTA 5? All their new (online) content is financed through real cash transactions – only for cosmetics stuff!

    That aside, reading some comments on grind – I wonder if there had been loot crates around in the days of Star Wars Galaxies how that whould have developed (or not)…

  19. zulnam says:

    The best we can do against games with microtransactions is voice our complaints and not buy them.

    I wanted both Battlefront 2 and Destiny 2, but decided against them on account of their lootbox system.

    Boycott the exploiters!

  20. left1000 says:

    I am/was a huge fan of the star wars battlefront 1 and 2 games (the first time they started counting.) I would’ve bought battlefront 4(2) for sure. If it weren’t for these issues. I have no desire to progress and upgrade. I just want to shoot some blasters. If the game were free? Sure, I’d try a free game full of unfair microtransactions. However for full 60$ triple A prices I want my game to be complete. I know it doesn’t make a difference writing this here. It makes me feel better to get this off my chest. I should just go reinstall star wars battlefront 2 (the one from a decade ago).

  21. sapien82 says:

    What I dont understand is , when can gamers actually hold developers to account for their crimes against gamers, we need a gaming union to sort this out. Its like they know full well they are developing games and releasing them unfinished and treating them as in development , using the money model to get folks playing early and paying to “be involved in the development” , get your name in the credits, get x,y,z, bonus pack at start. Essentially they are giving us a unfinished game, then charging for the patches / updates , and treating the updates or game patches like its the sequal .

    This is not fucking on , but people are so desperate to be involved or be first to do something they dont care that the product they are getting is unfinished !

    This would be like going to buy a new hoover, and then to find out that the hoover doesnt have a bag , that you need to buy that separately, and the hose isnt complete and that it requires and extra hose part connector to work and you have to buy that separately. It’s like buying an unfinished product that you’d normally pay £40 for finished , but now you’re paying £60 because of the early access, DLC, and micro transactions that were never there before.

    So basically we as gamers all need to have a world wide think about it and tell them to fuck off and we make a stand and not pay for this shit !

  22. Moraven says:

    The whole rarity upgrade system comes from mobile games, which have you grind from a 1 Star strength character/item/object to legendary status once you accumulate enough of them. Those systems are not going to work on a $60 full featured multiplayer game.

    Copy Overwatch and just give us cosmetic only loot boxes. Copy battlefield and give us Star Cards and Weapon unlocks for ranking up. Cards with no quality to them.

  23. tslog says:

    Remember When some people thought the mobile game industry would overtake traditional games. Hahahahaha…. it turned out traditional big budget games got the worst aspects of mobile; exploitative, money for service….publisher $$$ extractive contempt instead.

    How many horrendous games crash inducing trends and corporatist greed issues are surrounding gamers now.
    It’s sickening.

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