Star Wars: Battlefront 2 launching reworked loot boxes next week

Four months after turning off microtransactions in Star Wars: Battlefront II following the big stupid loot box mess, EA are about ready to launch a revamp of the game’s progression system and microtransaction monetisation. The good news: nothing that actually affects the action will be purchasable with real money. The so-so news: yes it still has a lousy damn progression system getting in the way of the game. The weird news: it seems the only thing EA will sell for money is character skins, contrary to an exec’s mutterings about the risks of upsetting people with a pink Darth Vader.

You remember the loot box mess? Unlocking items and upgrades was tied to ‘Star Cards’ and crafting junk found in loot boxes bought with a virtuacash earned by playing or a microtransaction currency bought with real money, as our Alec explained in detail. The game had a load of grind and players were not best pleased that EA were offering to let people pay to skip some of that grind in a game which already costs £55. No more.

“With this update, progression is now linear,” today’s announcement explains. “Star Cards, or any other item impacting gameplay, will only be earned through gameplay and will not be available for purchase. Instead, you’ll earn experience points for the classes, hero characters, and ships that you choose to play in multiplayer. If you earn enough experience points to gain a level for that unit, you’ll receive one Skill Point that can be used to unlock or upgrade the eligible Star Card you’d like to equip.”

Star Cards aren’t in Crates any more, and Crates can’t be bought. The reworked Crates will be received as rewards for “logging in daily, completing Milestones, and through timed challenges,” EA say. And they’ll only contain Credits or cosmetic items like emotes and victory poses.

Everything players have unlocked before this update will stay unlocked, but moving forwards it’ll go through that new system.

So what will EA sell? It sounds like skins are the only thing. EA call ’em “appearances” for some funny reason, and they’ll include different species to play as. EA give the example of Rodians as Rebel characters. These will be sold for the Credits earned in-game while playing or for real money through the ‘Crystals’ microtransaction cash.

I don’t object to EA selling cosmetic jazz for games if it helps fund ongoing development. It’s a model which has proven itself in a number of games – and sure beats the last Battlefront’s post-launch monetisation of playerbase-splitting paid expansions. It’s just a bit silly considering everything EA CFO Blake Jorgensen said last year about grind-skipping microtransactions being a better fit than skins. He noted that they were considering cosmetic options, but had been wary of focusing on them.

“The one thing that we’re very focused on and [Disney are] extremely focused on is not violating the canon of Star Wars,” Jorgensen said during an earnings conference call in November, responding to the loot box upset. “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.”

Turns out, Star Wars is crawling with different species and bits you can mash in as cosmetic options. Who knew? Still, at least they changed their minds rather than sticking to selling progression.

Battlefront II’s Progression Update will launch on March 21.

27 Comments

  1. Phantom_Renegade says:

    Firstly, the only thing worse then this game’s progression system is RPS’s log-in system. Seriously, it’s incredibly awful, you should put some money into fixing it.

    Secondly, while I personally believe that if you pay full price for a game, you shouldn’t then get nickle and dimed to death, at least cosmetics are (relatively) harmless.

    Lootboxes on the other hand, aren’t. This is still taking advantage of the large amount of teens without self-control the game is targeted at. Same as with Overwatch. If you absolutely need to be greedy, have a shop where you can buy the shit you want. This is still gambling and it’s still evil.

    • Martel says:

      I would prefer it that way too. Cosmetics as microtransactions are just fine, but they should just sell you the item (for real money too, no fake currency) and get it over with.

    • grimdanfango says:

      Cosmetic microtransactions aren’t fine and never have been.
      What they always have been is a thin-end-of-the-wedge that eventually lead to this current lootbox hell.

      Every time you make a point of saying they’re fine, you’re actively contributing to greedy publishers assessments that now is the time to push people a little further.

      They will keep pushing and pushing until lootboxes are considered “just how things are” … then they’ll push for something even more outrageous.

      Stop enabling them.

      • Asurmen says:

        Without cosmetics you just killed off countless of other games, while not actually disproving the slippery slope fallacy you just made.

        • Chromdillion says:

          I believe he specifically stated “Cosmetic microtransactions…” not “Cosmetics,” alone.

          • grimdanfango says:

            Absolutely. Nothing wrong with cosmetic accessories in games. It can be great fun collecting extra costumes, hats, whatever.

            Selling them is *always* a business device to exploit people.

            Plenty of games contained such things in the past as ordinary rewards and motivation for exploring a game fully.

            Reminds me of something I read recently, along the lines of “You can almost always replace the word ‘monetize’ with the word ‘exploit’ without changing the meaning”

            Cosmetics have an entirely reasonable gameplay benefit – it’s fun to collect things.
            There is absolutely zero gameplay benefit to any customer offered by microtransactions… whether they are implemented with some restraint, or not, they’re always designed to nudge people to keep spending, and ideally to get carried away spending.

      • Phantom_Renegade says:

        I agree that they offer no value to the consumer, but they absolutely offer value to the publisher who’s trying to exploit their consumers. And that’s what you need to remember at all times. They didn’t make these games for us, they’re making these games for themselves. As long as people buy them, publishers will force their devs to put them in. And as there is no way to stop people from buying them, we compromise by saying, well, at least stop the gambling bullshit then.

  2. MaxMcG says:

    I think microtransactions have no place in a full price game. Period. I don’t buy the “cosmetic items are ok, nobody is forcing you to buy them” argument.

    Here, EA are keeping their foot in the door as far as microtransactions go. It’s only a matter of time before they get greedy again and find some other way to try and exploit customers again.

    • ludde says:

      Agreed.

      And I don’t believe there need to be any post launch monetisation at all to be commercially successful, but if it would, I’d much rather take “playerbase-splitting” expansions over game-breaking micro-transactions.

  3. Eviscerator says:

    Sounds like they’re replacing one incomprehensible mess with another. Star cards, crates, challenges- WTF is wrong with just handing out awards for XP? You know, for playing the game? It seems now instead of needing shell out money for the good stuff EA want to keep you coming back to the game over and over so they can hopefully convince you to buy some cosmetics.

    I didn’t bother with any of the SW:B games and I don’t see myself starting anytime soon. I really do hope this move just finishes the game off- hopefully others will take it as a warning not to keep trying to gouge players for as much as they will tolerate.

    • Szhival says:

      What happened with just buying the game to have access to all the content from the start?
      Somehow the original Battlefront II didn’t need any progression systems to be played to this day – and still be the superior game.

  4. Jievo says:

    I just wish the gaming world, consumers and publishers, would just calm down about graphics and production values. We don’t need games to look that good. Like it or not, the big publishers have pushed production costs to the point that a $60 price tag won’t cut it any more. Maybe they should just go with a straight up $100 price tag but I don’t see that going over well. I’m all for the microtransaction model, means I get to potter around and have plenty of fun with base level equipment and slowly unlock a few fun new toys to play with, while those lunatics who pour cash in to get the top top tier equipment fund my experience. But ultimately, I think we just need to collectively reevaluate what a $60 game ought to look like. Screenshots I’ve seen of BF2 look gorgeous, but… It’s excessive, and if you can’t do it for a cost that can be recouped with sales, then just, don’t.

    • ChairmanYang says:

      Plenty of devs, AAA and indie alike, can produce incredible graphics without predatory business models. Witcher 3 is still one of the best-looking games, for example.

      No one should fall for it if EA or Fake Jorgensen say otherwise.

    • DefinitelyNotHans says:

      I mean, we’re already living in the age of $100 AAA games, it’s just that no one seems to be noticing somehow. Every major game release now has DLC and season passes set up ahead of time so you’re going to have to drop at least $90 or more for the actual full game, even more for ones that add on extra expansions that aren’t covered in the season pass.

      And even if you play the salewait game you’re still going to end up paying at least around full price once you add in all the major DLC content or get the “complete edition” that they all drop a year later.

      • ChairmanYang says:

        Is Assassin’s Creed Origins, for example, not a full game without the DLC, despite being ridiculously content-rich and story-complete? Can full games later become partial games because they have new DLC released?

        That’s a weird viewpoint.

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          Ninja Dodo says:

          Yeah man, I can’t believe we had to pay extra for Brood War and Frozen Throne back in the day… what a ripoff, right?

          • Phantom_Renegade says:

            If you don’t understand that a full expansion and the two-three minor story missions they call DLC are different beasts, I’m not sure what you’re doing in this conversation.

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            Ninja Dodo says:

            Pfft. First of all, singleplayer DLC is often very substantial indeed (AC Origins certainly qualifies for example) AND at $5-20 is priced much lower than standalone retail expansions used to be AND with modern standards of graphics and expectations of detail and polish it is considerably more expensive to create new singleplayer material than it was in the 90s. All of which to say: you’re just whining about wanting more free stuff.

    • aircool says:

      Yeah, I remember watching all 30-40 minutes of Shadow of War’s credits (should have just looked online really for the last bit) and was surprised at the amount of artists used in the game. I’d say that artists of one sort or another made up about 90% of those credited.

      Still, it keeps them off the streets and in gainful employment rather than wasting lottery funding on some art in the community installation crap.

    • aepervius says:

      Triple A gaming company “aren’t scrapping by” look at their SEC filling or the equivalent of in your local jurisdiction : the big one we are speaking of like EA, are money machines. As for development cost, while better assets do indeed cost more, maybe they should have a look at the marketing budget first… Which is often estimated to be around half the total budget. Just sayin’.

      Anyway the additional monetization is greed. It is not because they profit are down or they have difficulty financing games. Nothing agaisnt greed, but some gamer pretending this is to finance game is utterly stupid and just play in their hand and remind me of the expression decades ago of “useful idiot” link to en.wikipedia.org . Just look at their SEC filling again : it is quite clear this extra monetization is for pure enhanced benefit.

  5. sosolidshoe says:

    OK, interesting. I’ll make clear up-front, like other commenters I do not buy the whole “it’s just cosmetic” excuse, far as I’m concerned you either buy the game and get the game, all of it, not most of it, not all of it except for some cosmetics, the entire product. If you want to use a F2P business model, your game should be sodding free to play.

    All that said, I’m a huge sucker for Star Wars and I was fully prepared to deal with some level of skeeviness from EA for BF2, it was only the truly egregious level of skeeviness they engaged in that made me refuse to buy the game. I also don’t like to reflexively reject the idea of buying in to a game late if the dev/publisher actually addresses the complaints people have with a product, since continuing to boycott merely tells them that making that effort was wasted, so I’ll be willing to give this another look and maybe pick up a copy depending on exactly how the changes are implemented.

    • pandiculator says:

      My thoughts are exactly the same as yours – I still think cosmetics are skeevy as hell, but I am way more likely to put up with that rather than Star Lootbox.

  6. Evan_ says:

    So Disney discriminates pink and even white Darth Vaders. Ok.

  7. aircool says:

    The game is a hopeless mess. It’s not even a good game, there’s just so many faults. What sort of game rewards the best players with OP classes so they can just dominate even more?

    I went back to the game when I found out that they’d fixed the colourblind modes. Two hours of play later and I was uninstalling it. Sea of Thieves is going to be a welcome breath of fresh air.

    You can get the full-on Star Wars: Battlefront via Origin Access and it’s a much superior game to its god-awful sequel.

  8. Blackcompany says:

    If you are still giving EA money, you deserve whatever you get. Good, bad…by now, you know what you are doing.

  9. DatonKallandor says:

    Unfortunately this is still a worse system than what we had originally before all the games media latched on to it and stamped their foot over innaccurate complaints. Originally it was fully random and you could get anything in the crates, including highest rarity and new weapons.

    After the complaining EA changed it so you had to grind your way through the low level stuff to get to the high level star cards and they locked new weapons and attachments behind grinding for kills. And that was reported far and wide as “EA giving in”. When it was the opposite – it was WORSE for players, but every outlet praised them for it.

    Because the people, including the media, that complained didn’t actually play the game or know how the systems in it worked so they just took EAs word for it when they said “we’re changing it in response to your feedback”.

    So now instead of getting cool stuff for every round (because the original version of the crates had interesting game-changing items in them essentially every other crate), players are forced to bash their heads against people with better equipment with absolutely zero recourse. You did it games media, what a win. You really showed that evil publisher.

  10. n0s says:

    Too little, too late.

    EA is Satan, and Star Wars ended in 1983 with Return of the Jedi.

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