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.