Posts Tagged ‘loot boxes’

Battlefield V interview: dodging the lootbox question, and why battle royale “would really fit the universe”

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I came away from my Battlefield V first look surprisingly ready for another tour of the Western front – prosthetic-armed Cockneys and all – but with a number of nagging questions. Firstly, how exactly is EA DICE approaching monetisation right now, in the wake of the uproar over Star Wars: Battlefront 2’s rubbish launch-day microtransactions? I was treated to an hour-long presentation on the game’s service elements, but the in-game purchases this service will facilitate were conspicuously absent from discussion – it felt a bit like the part in the bombing run before the sky lights up with flak. And secondly, does the developer have any plans for a battle royale mode, given Call of Duty’s recent jump upon that bandwagon? Because if any existing shooter is built for Fortnitey/Plunkbatty shenanigans, it is surely Battlefield, with its giant maps and headcounts.

Burdened by such thoughts, I sought out senior producer Lars Gustavsson and tried to get a clear answer out of him. The results, which include a discussion of what I suspect will prove a controversial squad focus, are below. Read the rest of this entry »

Shadow of War expansion Desolation of Mordor out now

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Middle-earth: Shadow of War Desolation of Mordor is the most nonsensical sequence of words I have typed in some time. Yes, this is the second expansion for the popular orc dating simulator set in the land of Lord of the Rings, featuring two brothers who love to fight sand and all the animals that live in the sand. It’s out now, and a free update alongside the expansion also brings the first of those loot box rollbacks promised by Monolith. Read the rest of this entry »

Belgian Gaming Commission rules some loot boxes are illegal gambling

Loot boxes in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch, and FIFA 18 are games of chance and do violate Belgian gambling regulations, the country’s Gaming Commission has declared. Their loot boxes will need to be removed, the Commission says, or the operators could face hefty fines and potentially prison time. This is a big development as governments view loot boxes and their ilk with an increasingly critical eye. The Commission started investigating loot boxes in four big games last year following Star Wars Battlefront II’s fiasco, though ironically Battlefront II is the only game whose loot boxes they deemed not gambling – after its recent changes, anyway. Read the rest of this entry »

EA exec says they won’t repeat loot box mistakes

Years of growing discontent over loot box monetisation in games came to a head with 2017’s Star Wars Battlefront II‘s lousy loot-based unlock progression system, raising such a stink that governments weighed in on arguments and EA disabled the microtransactions.

“We can shy away from it and pretend like it didn’t happen,” Patrick Söderlund, EA’s new chief design officer, told The Verge, “or we can act responsibly and realise that we made some mistakes, and try to rectify those mistakes and learn from them.” He swears blind that they’ve chosen option B, and they’ll try real hard not to guff up games like Anthem and the mysterious next Battlefield. Read the rest of this entry »

Middle-earth: Shadow Of War removing loot boxes

Monolith have announced plans to remove loot boxes from Middle-earth: Shadow Of War in July, eight months after the open-world enslave-o-stabber launched. They’ve realised that they make the game worse, they say. The ‘War Chest’ loot boxes in Shadow Of War contain random items, orc slaves, and bits, and are sold for either the virtuacash earned in-game or for a microtransaction currency bought with real money. Monolith say the loot boxes cause people who buy them to miss out on the experience of the game’s Nemesis system – and even if you don’t buy them, their presence detracts from the game. Neither realisation is remotely surprising. Read the rest of this entry »

Star Wars Battlefront 2’s Patch 2.0 addresses many sins

Not quite Pink Vader, but it is pretty

Just last week, Alice reported that the much-maligned (and not without reason) Star Wars Battlefront 2 was seeing a rework coming to its loot crates. Now that the update has landed, it’s clear to see that was a little bit of an understatement.

In short: Loot crates are largely banished, containing only cosmetic items and purchased solely with in-game credits. Every character and unit is unlocked from the start. Star Card progression is level-based, per class/hero/unit. Real money can only be used to buy cosmetic gubbins that can also be earned through in-game currency and more besides.

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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. Read the rest of this entry »

ESRB introducing ‘In-Game Purchases’ label for ratings

The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), the North American industry body which assigns games age ratings, will expand its labelling on physical boxed games to include warnings of “In-Game Purchases”. This will cover everything that can be bought digitally for real money, from season passes and skins to microtransaction currencies and random loot boxes. They’re only a decade late to noticing all this, then.

Some industry commentators are disappointed that the ESRB don’t take a tougher stance against loot boxes, specifically pointing them out, but it’s no surprise. The ESRB exist to protect big publishers, and recently responded to a US senator’s concerns about loot boxes by calling them “a fun way to acquire virtual items.” Read the rest of this entry »

Loot Crate debate escalates, Hawaiian lawmakers speak

Loot Boxes

Last year’s explosion of negative press regarding loot crates in games (especially regarding their impact on Star Wars: Battlefront 2) is still being heard around the world. Now, the issue has reached the ears of a growing number of lawmakers.

As covered by the Hawaii Tribune Herald, the latest force to get involved is the Hawaiian state government, members of which have proposed two new laws that could have massive repercussions on the industry if they were to become nationwide law.

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Rainbow Six Siege halts plan to replace standard edition with pricier one

Ubisoft have reversed plans to replace the $40 Standard Edition of Rainbow Six Siege with one that cost $20 more but offered only some virtuacash and a few of the new cosmetic-only loot crates in return. This $60 ‘Advanced Edition’ did not seem a good deal and, with Ubisoft having managed to rebuild and improve Siege to become an actual hit, it seemed daft to make the game less welcoming. Well, having announced the price hike on Thursday, by Friday Ubisoft were convinced that it was a bad idea and changed their minds. The Standard Edition will stay. Read the rest of this entry »

Pink Vader comes to Star Wars Battlefront 2 in mod

You don't know the POWER of the pink side

“You probably don’t want Darth Vader in pink,” said Blake Jorgensen, chief financial officer of Electronic Arts. “No offence to pink but I don’t think that’s right in the canon.”

That was a month ago. Jorgensen was speaking at a technology conference about his company’s latest shooter, Star Wars Battlefront 2, and the furore about loot crates which had engulfed the game upon release. At the time, EA had decided to temporarily disable the unpopular microtransactions, but resisted changing the system outright. For example, they didn’t want to make it so loot boxes contained only cosmetic things like character skins. The reason, said Jorgensen, was that this risked breaking Star Wars canon.

It is 36 days later and you can now download Darth Vader in pink. Read the rest of this entry »

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. Read the rest of this entry »

Belgium commission declares loot boxes are gambling

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Following the Star Wars Battlefront 2 microtransaction debacle, last week the Belgium Gaming Commission launched an investigation into whether loot boxes came under their purview. VTM news (beware of the sloppy Google translation) have now reported on their conclusion, which is a resounding ‘yes’.

Elsewhere in the world, Hawaiian politicians have spoken out, calling for legislation to end the sale of loot boxes to minors. So, will we be seeing greater restrictions on what games companies are allowed to sell any time soon? It’s complicated, but probably not.

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Need for Speed Payback reduces the need for loot boxes

nfs

As the heated debate over loot boxes and player progression continues, Need for Speed Payback joins Star Wars Battlefront 2 in making changes based on the discussion, largely in regards to how the game doles out currency and experience. Essentially, drivers will earn more for less from events and races, making it easier to upgrade cars and level up.

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Star Wars Battlefront 2 turns off microtransactions, but don’t get cocky

boom

EA’s fully armed and operational microtransaction station has fallen, for now at least – but in-game payments will return to Star Wars Battlefront 2. The sci-fi FPS has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons over recent days, due to the inclusion of a paid loot crate system that, many felt a) gave people who paid an unfair advantage and b) was arranged in such a way as to unduly coax people into repeatedly paying.

It’s a story that has eclipsed the release of the game itself. And that’s apparently the reason behind EA’s unexpected announcement that they’re turning off SWBF2’s microtransactions.
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How loot crates and unlocks really work in Star Wars Battlefront 2

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A long time ago, a man worked out how to merchandise popular entertainment at a hitherto unprecedented level. 40 years later, C-3PO lunchboxes in Woolworths have given way to microtransaction loot crates in EA’s Star Wars Battlefront 2. With the game out this week, millions of voices are already crying out in terror about the time and/or costs involved in accessing every character, weapon and rechargeable grenade variant. I’m here to cut through the noise and examine how loot crates, unlocks, payments, and grind work within SWBF2 – and how incorporating this oh-so-2017 goldrush into an online shooter disrupts the experience of playing it.

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Star Wars Battlefront 2 cuts top-tier hero unlock costs

Dice have boldly gone back to the drawing board once more to rework the progression system of Star Wars Battlefront 2, now making the high-end hero characters take less time to unlock. They’ve cut the unlock costs of fellas like Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader by 75%, meaning players won’t have to grind for squillions of ‘credits’ to play as their playground heroes. This follows Dice reworking — but not removing — the progression system of packing upgrades into loot crates. Those crates can optionally bought with real money, which is a whole other stink.

Oh and for fancy-pants Star Warriors with cash to flash, Battlefront 2’s Deluxe Edition is out now – but not its regular edition. Read the rest of this entry »

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. Read the rest of this entry »

UK government responds to loot box questions (vaguely)

Playing the loot

The UK government has responded to two questions posed by a Cambridge MP about loot boxes and gambling laws. It is a very very very very boring answer, and says basically nothing apart from highlighting current regulations about gambling. That’s not much of a surprise, although the speed at which the government has “answered” suggests an awareness that the issue of loot crates is smoldering upon the floor of the industry, like a flaming paper bag with a poo in it. Something might have to be done about it, sure, but nobody wants to volunteer their boot. Read the rest of this entry »

Loot box questions brought up in UK parliament

Spooky loot

“Loot” used to be such a nice word. It brought to mind coffers piled with doubloons. Today it is often followed by the word “crate” and an expression of disgust. After recent controversies over the inclusion of loot boxes in games like Middle-earth: Shadow of War and Star Wars: Battlefront 2, the issue of this psychologically iffy practice has been brought up in the UK parliament in the form of two written questions submitted by a Cambridge MP. In short, they ask the government: what do you plan to do about “in-game gambling”?
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