“I’ve Got A Bad Feeling About This…”

Zach Perez, Writer

Recently game publisher EA came under fire for the micro-transaction in their recently released game, Star Wars Battlefront 2. The publisher was being accused of pushing a pay to win system in the game. For those who don’t know what that means, a pay to win system is a system in which players are able to pay real world currency for items in the games that give them specific advantages over those who simply unlock those items normally through playing the game. This is usually made to take a very long time though to incentivize buying the micro-transactions. This creates an unfair environment in the game and an environment where players feel forced to spend money on things they don’t want to.

Although this is by no means a new trend in the gaming industry. It has been heavily used in the mobile gaming market after the release of Clash of Clans. Something that is somewhat new to the industry is how these transactions are presented. Today many of them are bought in the form of loot boxes. These are packs players can buy that will give a predetermined number of random items. Basically you pay for or unlock the boxes and hope you get something you want. While this is a way to keep players playing the game to keep trying for a coveted unlock, the fact that players have the option to, and are sometimes pushed to, buy them has cause some to claim it is just a form of legalized gambling for all ages. Countries such as Belgium and China have already started investigating the game for promoting gambling to children.

As more and more people demand a change and began to boycott the game, and as more companies and governments began to investigate the game, things reached a boiling point. A few days after the release of the game a representative of Disney, the company who owns the Star Wars brand, called the CEO of EA. Although it was never confirmed, many believe the call was made because Disney was angry that EA was creating so much bad press around the Star Wars brand right before the release of The Last Jedi. Many have also speculated that Disney threatened to take away EA’s exclusivity rights as the sole developers of Star Wars games. Though we don’t know what exactly was said that night, the call resulted in EA removing micro-transactions from the game the following day. They did not specify if they would be creating a new system for micro-transactions or if they were just temporarily removing the current system.

While this event may seem like an isolated incident, it could have an effect on the entire gaming industry. EA has caused the rest of the world to put the gaming industry’s business practices under a microscope. They’ve cause Battlefront 2, an otherwise amazing game, to become a sort of martyr to a sea of consumers who are fed up with a system that takes advantage of them. If things such as this continue to happen it would cause a major of big and small game publishes to drastically change their business models, as one of there biggest sources of revenue is becoming more and more hated. This not only would change how games are sold and presented post-launch, it could change how the games themselves are made and balanced. No one has hard answers for how these systems should be replaced, changed, or left alone, but no matter what happens the world of mainstream gaming is in for quite a change.