Star Wars Battlefront 2’s microtransactions unlikely to include a pink Darth Vader

When Electronic Arts turned off microtransactions in Star Wars Battlefront 2 over that whole stinking loot crate progression system mess, they said they would bring ’em back after a rethink. Well, EA’s chief financial officer said on Tuesday that is still very much the plan. While he isn’t sure how and when microtransactions will return, he seems fairly certain they wouldn’t include cosmetic items which seem goofy or out-of-place in Star Wars – no pink Darth Vader, for starters.

The original plan for microtransactions in Battlefront 2 was to optionally sell the loot crates which contain bits and pieces players need to unlock and upgrade weapons, abilities, and characters. If people paid to buy crates, they would skip some of the tedious grind. EA disabled the option to buy crates for real money — but not the crate system itself — shortly before launch after many people complained this was nonsense.

“We pulled off on the MTX, because the real issue the consumer had was they felt it was a pay-to-win mechanic,” EA CFO Blake Jorgensen said during a chat-o-interview at the Credit Suisse Annual Technology, Media & Telecom Conference. This is a business-y but conversational context. He continued, “The reality is, there’s different types of players in games. Some people have more time than money and some people have more money than time, and you want to always balance those two.”

Jorgensen went on to explain that they’re trying to make a game that will stand for years, supported by new content and events. The implication is that microtransactions can help support this model. This is still fairly new territory for EA, who in recent years have spaffed quick sequels and paid expansions all over. But he does concede they’re still figuring it, saying they’re listening to players and poring over all the metrics they can track.

“We will continue to look and work with our consumer base, continue to look at the data about the game, and learn from that to try to understand the best ways to create a game that’s deeply engaging, that people play for a long time, and that everyone can enjoy depending on if you grind in the game, if you pay in the game, or if you do both.”

How come they haven’t followed the path of games like Overwatch and Dota by selling cosmetic items? Part of the reason is that oh-so-important Star Wars canon, apparently. EA — and especially Star Wars overlords Disney and Lucasfilm — want to preserve the holy lore.

“The one thing that we’re very focused on and they’re extremely focused on is not violating the canon of Star Wars,” Jorgensen said. “It’s an amazing brand that’s been built over many many years and so if you did a bunch of cosmetic things, you might start to violate the canon. Darth Vader in white probably doesn’t make sense versus in black. Not to mention, you probably don’t want Darth Vader in pink. No offense to pink but I don’t think that’s right in the canon.”

Jorgensen says EA are working with the Starlords on potential ideas for cosmetic items, mentioning different lightsaber colours, but this isn’t certain. Battlefront 2 does already include some cosmetic bits, mind, packing victory poses and emotive animations into its loot crates. Sadly, none of those are anywhere near as fun as animations in the best Star Wars game ever made, Kinect Star Wars. Yeah but who cares? Supposedly Star Warrers (don’t call ’em Warries – they hate that term) are quite insistent about this canon nonsense. Pfft.

EA are increasingly focusing on this ‘games as service’ model and stepping away from paid expansions and endless sequels, so I will be curious to see what they learn from this fiasco. They have at least done a good job with Titanfall 2, adding plenty of new maps and modes for free while selling cosmetic skins. I don’t agree that Battlefront 2’s loot crates are gambling — and I worry that over-using the word provides cover for actual gambling problems in games — but they sure are rubbish and exploitative.

Some people are quite insistent that I offer firm opinions on this, so my weapons-grade hot take is: persistent unlock progression in competitive multiplayer games is bad and Star Wars is undesirable too, so buying a game containing both is a terrible idea.

68 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    Look, if I can’t buy a Yoda riding a little bicycle around then I’m not sure I’m ever going to put money in.

  2. Darth Gangrel says:

    A pink Darth Vader? That’s what mods are for, but since companies don’t get money from mods (it’s not like GTA V or Skyrim prospered because of its mod scene, right?) they won’t allow it.

    Perhaps they also don’t want their precious product tainted by the vile creative freedom of modders (nude mods, nude mods everywhere, right?).

    • Premium User Badge

      Drib says:

      Do… you even want a nude Vader?

    • Blackcompany says:

      I dont understand it, either. Mods kept people buying Skyrim for more than HALF A DECADE after its release date.

      We are talking a mediocre game on an ancient engine, featuring some of the most trad writing and outright terrible voice acting in the history of RPG games, with lousy, one button combat, boring magic and a complete lack of player agency.

      And people are still buying it. In 2017. Because of Mods.

      This is such a no brainer. Ok, maybe you spend…40-100 extra man-hours getting the mod tools in place. But if you can extend the life of a $20-$40 game by HALF A DECADE…that’s a pretty small price to pay.

      • fish99 says:

        I didn’t buy it for mods, and RPS didn’t give it GOTY a month after its release because of mods.

        • Zelos says:

          1. If true, you bought the game for a terrible reason.

          2. Yes they did.

          TES games have never been legitimately good on their own; they’re garbage carried by the best modding scene of any game or franchise.

          • LessThanNothing says:

            The majority of people that bought and played Skyrim probably never installed a mod. Maybe they are missing out, but I disagree that the game sans mods sucked

      • ludde says:

        While I agree with your point, you probably need to add at least another zero to that man-hour estimate.

  3. josborn says:

    Violating the canon is no joke. That’s how I got banned from all of America’s Civil War battlefields. *rimshot*

  4. int says:

    Then give us the delightful Commander Larkin!

  5. aircool says:

    Heh…

    Can you imagine being choked by a Pink Darth Vader…

    pffheheh :’)

  6. crazyd says:

    I don’t agree that Battlefront 2’s loot crates are gambling — and I worry that over-using the word provides cover for actual gambling problems in games

    What do you think is a gambling problem in games if not this? Why isn’t paying money for a random chance at in game content gambling?

    • Unclepauly says:

      Lol because there’s no chance for monetary gain of course. That’s how real gambling works

      • Blackcompany says:

        No. That’s how LEGALLY DEFINED gambling works.

        REAL gambling – aka, what your brain thinks is gambling – is basically ANY RNG rewards system where you have a small chance to get the thing you really wanted…diluted by a bunch of stuff you didnt really care to get but arent outright unhappy with having. CCG Packs, Random or Semi Random Loot Tables…all of these things are, as far as your brain is concerned, gambling.

        When legislators finally catch up to this fact of basic human psychology, gamers will be a lot better off…and a lot more psychologically safe from predatory business practices.

        • aircool says:

          Hell yeah, it’s gambling alright. I’ve never counted myself as a gambler; the odd scratchcard to round off a small purchase to the nearest £5, raffles at work etc…, but I’ve never felt any need or thrill to do such things.

          However, opening those ‘special offer’ packs in FIFA FUT was a buzz; a mighty expensive buzz as well considering I actually disliked playing the game by that time.

          That sounds like gambling to me, and it certainly felt like it. I could almost have afforded one of the new iPad’s with the amount of money I wasted on that bastard game.

          I hate to promulgate conspiracy theories, but I suspect that the odds in loot boxes vary depending on how much money you spend/have spent. Your first few hits are purposely biased towards greater rewards, but once you’re pegged as a spender (in my case, gullible fool) they start stacking the odds against you.

  7. Xerophyte says:

    As a long time pink Darth Vader aficionado and avatar-haver I find this very disappointing.

  8. goodpoints says:

    As someone who believes the only 3 good things about Star Wars are the THX-1138 reference, Spaceballs, and Tim Russ Explains Star Wars Day; I might just boycott all future EA games if I can’t get a pink skin for Dark Father (maybe with a D-for-Dark DAMF belt buckle) or Elector Palatine in a speedo.

    Of course I won’t ever actually buy the game, but my ultimatum stands.

    • aircool says:

      I love the Star Wars universe, but I’m only really a fan of the original movie, the others don’t really do it for me; usually the second reel is where they head south.

      To be honest, I actually prefer the Family Guy versions these days, but that’s probably because I know the original trilogy inside out.

  9. Megatron says:

    Microtransactions scare easily but they’ll be back…

    …and in greater number.

    • Jalan says:

      It’s sad that this has rang true in such a short time overall (and not just as it applies to this game).

      Likewise, to the small number of people who keep hoping that Disney might revoke EA’s license for Star Wars entirely due to perceived “abuse” of the property (I assume that means similar to what was done with the films, such as Lord & Miller getting booted off the Han Solo film for wanting to do what THEY wanted and not so much what Disney wanted them to do) – it’s a nice sentiment to hope for, but I don’t see it happening and even if it did, there’s nothing stopping any other company from repeating the same situation(s) with games they publish.

      • brucethemoose says:

        The hope (or at least my hope) is that no company will claim dibs, so multiple studios/publishers can have a crack at the IP in the genre they do best.

      • Megatron says:

        Despite my cynicism above I’m actually one of the hopeful you describe, Jalan, only because I think with parent power on board thanks to the gambling element there might be a new hope, but realistically I’m aware it’s like asking Emperor Palpatine to chastise Darth Vader for killing a few Jedi younglings.

        #FunWithStarWarsAnalogies

      • Megatron says:

        Disney only really got involved because it got noisy enough to become toxic in the media, not because EA had done something wrong in their eyes.

        • Premium User Badge

          phuzz says:

          I dunno, I’m sure Disney were annoyed that EA screwed it up to such an extent that they had to stop taking people’s money, because at the end of the day Disney were waiting for some of that money to come to them.
          For Disney, Star Wars is a magical money tree that causes people practically throw money at them for the most rubbish of tat. EA have committed the sin of lowering the the amount of money they get. Probably only by a fraction of a percent this year, but still…

    • aircool says:

      and a bonus 10 points for you Sir/Madam.

  10. left1000 says:

    but in 2015 when ea released battlefront (aka battlefront3) it ALREADY HAD COSMETICS!?!?!!! all of which were very tasteful and so… this whole battlefront2 (aka battlefront4) cannot have cosmetics?!?! it’s clearly a lie. THEY THEMSELVES disproved their own statement.

    • Crimsoneer says:

      They were such minor variations so as to be all but insignificant. Certainly not enough to base progression on.

      • sosolidshoe says:

        You mean they wouldn’t be sufficient to base an RMT gamblebox system on.

      • aircool says:

        I disagree. I really, really wanted the Biker Scout outfit and the Greedo lookalike.

        However, I did find that having certain goals to unlock gear interfered with playing the objectives in the games, and pushed you into horrible game modes where everyone was basically trying to unlock stuff.

        It’s not loot boxes that put me off the new title (don’t get me wrong, I’m against such things), it’s the in-match progression where people are going to be concentrating on getting their hero into play etc… rather than playing the objective. I actually prefer the system in the last game where heroes and ships were just pickups.

  11. Horg says:

    The game is a mindless scrum filled with characters from all over the Star Wars chronology, who couldn’t possibly exist in the same space at the same time, fighting each other…..and they try to use the ”Immaculate Cannon” defense? Fuck off EA : |

    • gunny1993 says:

      I’m inclined to believe them tbh, Disney are being VERY tight with what they allow into cannon.

    • brucethemoose says:

      That kinda falls under the “gameplay” umbrella, where canonicity is often questionable anyway.

      But Pink Vader doesn’t have much to do with gameplay.

      • aircool says:

        Yeah, see how much Shadow of War cares about being faithful to canon, but the game is all the better for it. I’d be quite happy to have Celebrimbor tag along in real life. His dry and haughty commentary on the modern world would be hilarious.

    • goodpoints says:

      Pachelbel’s Cannon

  12. zulnam says:

    We, the players, had quite an astounding success with the backlash for BF2, much more than i would have imagined.

    It would be a shame, as such, to just end up buying the game 3 months after release, proving to EA that they will make their money, only slightly slower.

    Continuing the boycott on the game however will only help twist the knife in the lootbox monster, hurting EA more and sending a clear message to other publishers.

    If you can, and really care about games as a hobby or an art form, don’t buy it. Ever.

  13. Artist says:

    Pay 2 win was shut down because Disney smacked down on EA about the controvesy it created just before the launch of their Xmas blockbuster!
    I bet pay 2 win will return in full force (pun intended) end Jan to early Feb. When the new SW flic is through the movies.
    Bet?

    • Wolfram86 says:

      Not exactly… yes I’m sure Disney was concerned, and there was articles about a Disney exec calling EA before the MTX thing was pulled – but! Disney has been involved in the development of the game since day one, they knew and planned alongside EA the MTX lootbox system. Disney is at least as greedy as EA.

  14. MattM says:

    I kinda agree but it just means you cant have cosmetic or game power microtransations. Deal with it EA and make a decent game.

  15. ScubaMonster says:

    I like how they picked an absurd example to prove their point. What about a young Anakin, Vader with no mask, etc? You can make alternates that would fit right in. Just more BS as usual, just like Sim City can’t be an offline game.

    • Wolfram86 says:

      That’s because the creative types are subordinate to boardroom execs.

  16. BewareTheJabberwock says:

    EA could have made the game itself fun and interesting, but that would REALLY have violated recent Star Wars canon.

    • Artist says:

      Yeah, what a pity, isnt it? Not that Disney hasnt thrown the canon out of the window anyway when the fat man sold the franchise to them…
      So whats “canon” worth any more?

      • sosolidshoe says:

        Wasn’t worth much before either. AFAIK everything that used to be “canon” still is, and more besides, it was the EU that got nuked from orbit and Lucas was always completely clear that he didn’t consider any of that canon(but we are talking about the man who though Gungans were a great idea here, so nobody rational is under any obligation to go along with the mental old lump :P).

  17. thelastpointer says:

    Some people have more time than money and some people have more money than time
    See, there’s the problem. People are not just a random composition of time and money.

    No offense to pink
    I thought I had an idea what PC means, but now I’m conflicted.

    • montfalcon says:

      Exactly. To a games publisher like EA, people are just a random compositions of money. They don’t really care if you play the game, as long as you spend.

    • Wolfram86 says:

      It’s amazing how black and white they see it. What about the fact that most people probably don’t have a lot of time, maybe a few hours a week to game, nor do they have a lot of money to blow on games. I buy all my games either used or on sale these days.

      And I think this is the bracket that made a racket. We’re not children to be tricked, and we’re not “whales”. We just want good, fun games that aren’t trying to screw us over; games that provide an actual sense of pride and accomplishment.

  18. mejoff says:

    Yes, it’s important that the Battlefront games preserve the lore and canon at all costs. My absolute favourite part of Empire Strikes back is that bit where the stormtrooper on Hoth runs at the glowy blue token floating over the snow and turns into a tie fighter.

    • Bull0 says:

      Or when Rey fought the separatist droids on Naboo. In other words they’re talking shit.

  19. sapien82 says:

    I think all game devs should be ashamed at this corporate greed money grab the whole industry is doing now !

    gamers are basically held to ransom.

    if we arent being bombarded by microtransactions or loot crate purchases in games now , its the constant reminder of DLC’s and mega DLC packs. Games are released half finished , customers who have short attention spans are hooked on the early access to a incomplete game . Then on launch what would normally be a full game is split into sections /chapters and sold as DLC

    All for profit , its about fucking time some legal defense came to gamers and said that its illegal to do this in gaming.
    Surely gamers could globally boycott these companies, but it always falls flat on its face when you have kids with parents who just buy to shut them up ! They would have no reason to boycott because everything is given to them

    Games should be about fun , not emptying your wallet for the pretense of fun

  20. Bull0 says:

    The whole “Disney won’t let us do cosmetics, honest” thing is widely believed to be a load of horseshit, though. So there’s that. I don’t really get why this game is still getting faintly even-handed coverage from RPS to be honest, it’s jarring.

  21. GGiyo says:

    “They (EA) have at least done a good job with Titanfall 2, adding plenty of new maps and modes for free while selling cosmetic skins.”

    Goodness me Alice, don’t give EA credit for this. respawn entertainment develops the game.

  22. Baines says:

    To the surprise of probably only a few, dataminers have found that Battlefront 2 has character customization/skins already in the game data. It just isn’t currently enabled. (Not to mention the game already used alternate hero skins as pre-order bonuses.)

  23. skorpeyon says:

    “Trying to make a game that will last for years” from a company that pumps out sequels yearly or every-other at minimum? I’m hard-pressed to believe that. They’re trying to build a game that will eke out as much money as fast as possible, hence the microtransactions being tied to time-saving systems.

  24. Ham Solo says:

    1. There are several reddit posts highlighting hundreds of canon optical variations
    2. They added variations already to Rey and Ben Solo
    3. They had variations in the first Battlefront remake
    4. They talk about valueing canon in a game where darth maul can fight rey.

    Liars.