The relationship between developers and the gaming community is of course, nothing short of crucial when it comes to a game’s success. Developers need the support of the community in order to sell their games, so when EA announced the release of Battlefront 2, fans were understandably excited.
EA’s plans appeared to be going smoothly until one Reddit user called out the developers on one of their in-game decisions. The Star Wars Battlefront subreddit post questioned EA’s decision to have Darth Vader locked upon release despite some players paying upwards of $80 for the game and additional content. Had players not been required to spend such amounts on the game, the prospect of having better characters locked until players had enough in game credits (earned through playtime) could be considered somewhat reasonable. Although, given the situation, the ends did not justify the means.
“This issue has been the latest spanner in the works for EA, who have long been considered and previously voted the least popular games developer among fans two years in a row.”
EA’s Community Team soon responded, but few people would have predicted both the response they would produce and the ensuing reaction from the community that followed. According to the developers, the decision to make players unlock characters was to ‘instill a sense of pride and accomplishment’, which, at face value seems somewhat reasonable. However, it was soon discovered that for the average player to unlock a higher tier character they would be required to play approximately 40 hours of gameplay each, a quantity of time that very few people would be able/willing to invest in order to receive their desired outcome.
To make matters worse, it was found that for those people who didn’t wish to invest unreasonable amounts of time into the game there was, naturally, a monetary plan B. The community immediately saw this as an attempt by the developers to exploit their fan base by providing them with near unattainable content with the hope that they would be too desperate in wanting the extra content and would resort to purchasing it with actual money.
This issue has been the latest spanner in the works for EA, who have long been considered and previously voted the least popular games developer among fans two years in a row. Following this year’s events, the company could see themselves make it a hat-trick. Much of the disdain towards the developers comes as a result of their content being heavily centred around micro-transactions, which consists of in-game content that players can purchase for a small fee in the hope of getting applicable items that will enhance their playing experience. These features are commonplace across the majority of modern video games. However, many are advertised as having no statistical enhancement and being purely aesthetic in purpose. Where EA have suffered is by applying micro-transactions with the incentive that they will make a player’s experience better or give them an advantage over their opponent on a pay-to-win basis.
As of right now, EA’s Reddit response has amassed 670,000 downvotes, making it the most downvoted post in Reddit history. It has easily surpassed the previous record-holding post with 20,000 which was a post which was genuinely asking for downvotes.
The community-led backlash has prompted actions from the developers, who have since altered their in game features and for the meantime, removed all micro-transactions from Battlefront 2. Whether this will be on a permanent basis or temporary is currently unknown, but EA are certainly finding themselves in the wars.