I’ve always had a passion for games. From my first encounter with video games on the PS1 til this day. Today i basically game on everything (as long as the game is fun). 18 years of gaming, what a life 😀
And in those 18 years I have seen and witnessed how the evolution of games has progressed. Gaming has become a multi billion dollar industry in the United States! Has this affected games in a negative or positive way?
Today I wanted to talk about the negative way.
The beginning of loot boxes
Let’s start with the rise of microtransactions. I wanted to talk more specifically about EA, and when it all first started.
Microtransactions were designed around the “freemium” business model for mobile games. The games were free, but if you wanted to progress faster, or get new items in those games, you had to pay actual money to get in-game credits. How I see it it’s fair, since the game is free and developers still need to make money. But it’s still a bit controversial, because it exploits people who have problems (some people spend a huge amount of money in those games). South Park has an episode called “Freemium isn’t free”. The episode is about Stan getting addicted to a freemium mobile game. It’s a really funny episode, but it’s still sheds a light on why the freemium games aren’t “free”.
In a video by a channel called “Skill Up”. He dives deep into the history of micro transactions, and he finds out that it all can be traced back to Andrew Wilson (CEO of EA). And it actually began with the football (Soccer) game FIFA, with a game mode called Ultimate Team.
Ultimate Team still exists today. And it is basically a game mode in fifa. It allows you to customize your football team, where you can compete against other players. Ultimate team allowed you to collect and trade virtual players with other people. And these players are based on real life players. For every game you play you will be rewarded credits. These credits allowed you to buy randomized packs of cards. There were 3 different card packs. Bronze, silver and gold. The gold one was of course much more expensive than the bronze one, but your chances of getting a good player were much higher. And of course if you wanted to get a player like Messi or Ronaldo your chances are small. So basically you use money to open up packs of cards (just like Pokemon cards!). Some of the items (players) are useful and some of them are not.
The problem with this type of game is that EA releases FIFA every year. And the progress you made in Ultimate Team, and the players you got from buying loot crates (packs of cards) dont get transferred to the new FIFA game. Although it’s the same goddamned game every year, just with a new name and cover! like instead of FIFA 17 its FIFA 18, and has Cristiano Ronaldo in the front instead of Marco Reus. But it’s the same engine, same gameplay mechanics, same gameplay. They just add some new goal celebrations, and then slap a 60$ game tag on it and call it a new game.
Battlefront 2 controversy
With Battlefront 2 EA tried to take it one step further. They still had loot boxes, but this time you felt “forced” to buy items. Because if not you would have a hard time playing the game, because these items had an effect on the gameplay, which gave some players an unfair advantage. They could get better powers, better weapons etc.
The critique started in the beta testing of the game. The people who played the beta complained about the game being unfair due to the lootboxes. And EA said that they would address this, but when the people who pre-ordered the game got to play it before everybody else, the mood was not good. Reports came in that EA did absolutely nothing to fix the balance in the lootbox issue. But things really blew up when an EA employee commented a reddit post by MBMMaverick.
That comment became the most downvoted comment in the history of Reddit. A guy named Soeren Kamper over at Star Wars Gaming created a formula estimating the percentage chance of card drops, the credits given for duplicate cards and the average number of crafting parts given per box. By using this formula it became know that you either had to spend 4528 hours on the game. Or you could pay 2100$ if you don’t have the time to play for that long.
This is an insane amount which results in an endless grinding, which is a very bad BAAD gameplay mechanic. There needs to be a fine line between grinding and the overall experience, but having too much grinding in a game makes it boring after a while.
What i found was really disgusting from EA’s side was that they made an announcement when the controversy hit that they would TEMPORARILY shut down loot boxes in the game. They probably thought that they could just shut it down and later put it back in the game when the controversy was over. Showing once again that they won’t listen to the people (customers, gamers) who make their jobs even possible.
I feel bad for DICE who developed the game. They’re a very talented development team. Its sad to see that a publisher like EA could destroy a game like Battlefront even before it’s released. This clearly shows that EA sometimes don’t care whether the game is good or not, but just about the money.
I hope that they’ve learned from this experience, but somehow i doubt that.
Have a great weekend everyone! See you next week 🙂
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=la9e816qcqw (Will EA Do Enough To Repair Star Wars Battlefront 2’s Damage?)
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=267&v=PTLFNlu2N_M (The Untold History of EA’s Long (and Rich) Pay-2-Win Love Affair)