Nerd Talk: EA breaches trust with customers in new Star Wars game

Megan Roth’s bi-weekly column about pop culture and all things nerdy

Large corporations are getting greedier and greedier. This can be seen in Disney’s slow take over of, pretty much, the entire world – not too long ago they were in talks of buying out all Fox properties. As well as the ridiculous increase in the price of video games.

Not too long ago, a few years really, a new video game would cost about $60 now to get the latest release one is paying $80 for the initial game, plus the cost of extra characters, and DLCs (downloadable content).

The greed of companies came to ab boiling point recently when the new Star Wars: Battlefront 2 came out, from EA and Disney. The outrage over this game caused many people to threaten boycott, not just from this one game but all EA games and even the upcoming Star Wars movie.

What caused all this? Simple greed. The latest Battlefront game, which had been a fairly anticipated game for a while now, required in game purchased, not just for items or upgrades, but for playable characters.

These characters gave players an advantage as many of the purchasable character were far and beyond better than the others.

In game purchases are one thing, but when they give players an unfair advantage in a multi-player online game, someone needs to rethink their strategy.

What makes this whole thing worse, is the fact if players actually want to stand any chance while playing the game – which again is a multi-player online game – they risk the algorithm. This algorithm was created to pit “regular” players against those with better character, ones they are sure to lose against, and tells them while asking if they would like to purchase a character so they won’t lose.

This is honestly despicable.

Sure late last week EA issued an apology stating they were “ending in-game purchases” for the time being. But what’s to say they won’t bring it back in few weeks after the heat’s died down and everyone is just pumped for the movie release?

To make matters worse, it would take upwards of 100 days to grind through the game play to unlock these purchasable characters, assuming one could play for 24-hours straight for days at a time.

While doing research for this column I found out that wasn’t even possible. If someone was willing to grind through the story mode and unlock all the characters they would be made to wait for extended periods of time, because the game would lock them out. It would actually stop a player from continuing to play the game.

This would happen for three hours at a time. Then, it will be extended to 14 hours if the player persists to play through. Finally the game has locked players out for a total of 24 hours just because they were playing through the game for extended periods of time trying to get these characters.

When giving their apology, EA said nothing about the systematic lockout of its player who are just trying to play the game.

Then, after feeling frustrated and just wanting one specific character to use, the player goes to pay for a new character only to find he or she can only pay for mystery boxes. Meaning a player would spend large sums of money only to get a character they didn’t want, or maybe already have.

According to a calculation by Star Wars Gaming, it would take at least 4,528 hours of gameplay or $2,100 to unlock all its base content, assuming players get all the characters on the first try.

The “loot boxes”, as they are being called in the game, are subject to investigation, as some countries believe it promotes gambling in children – which EA adamantly denies.

“The crate mechanics of Star Wars Battlefront II are not gambling. A player’s ability to succeed in the game is not dependent on purchasing crates. Players can also earn crates through playing the game and not spending any money at all,” EA said in an official statement.

They may not be “necessary” but the company does their very best to make the players feel stuck in a corner when it comes to in-game purchases.

Currently Belgium is investigating in the in-game mechanics, if they find this game as well as Overwatch, both will be subject to a special permit if they want to market the game in the country.

I’m not a gamer, and even without this controversy I probably wouldn’t have even thought about purchasing the game. It just doesn’t appeal to me. But knowing this company has taken advantage of their players – and let’s not forget this game is still marketed towards children – is simply awful.

Making players feel they have to purchase players to stand a chance, or take weeks, months even, to play through a game that constantly locks them out, is a breach of trust.

Sure they stopped transactions for now, but they will reintroduce it again, after unspecified changes to the game.

I wouldn’t buy this game, even with an apology. Knowing what this company can and has done to it customers I would be hard pressed to buy any other game by EA.

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