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Following heavy criticism concerning the questionable microtransactions present in Star Wars Battlefront II, EA has offered their take on the matter. Unfortunately, it kind of boils down to, "yeah, we were expecting this."
The Gamespot folks had a chat with several members of team EA regarding Battlefront II recently, including EA Motive art director Chris Matthews. When asked about the game's loot boxes, Star Cards and the like, Matthews actually dodged the question by stating that it's a question that's difficult to dodge...Fascinating.
DICE [developer of Battlefront II's multiplayer] has taken great care to make sure that Star Cards and the way they work give you more options in battle. Terms like pay-to-win and stuff like that are hard to dodge, but the guys are doing a really incredible job of trying to balance that system.
We'd argue that the best way to balance that system would be to either remove it or, at the very least, remove the additional price tag attached to it, but what do we know about game development?
The issue most folks have with the microtransactions is the fact that they have an actual impact on gameplay. Games like Overwatch and Destiny 2 have similar loot boxes, but they offer cosmetic items like skins or emotes. Those items don't have an impact on the way the game is played or whether or not a player has an edge over their opponent. In Battlefront II, Star Cards have the potential to unlock weapons, upgrades and even stat boosts. The issue is that balance can't exist if a player has equipped all legendary Star Cards that max out their gear and even grant abilities such as faster health regeneration. Folks would have issues if that was available in a standard game, but the real rub here is that players can actually pay to unlock those upgrades faster. This is exactly the kind of for-pay content the industry took a huge step away from years ago, so it's understandable that players are edgy now that it seems to be making a return.
The report goes on to state that, like any online game that recently underwent a beta, Battlefront II will continue to grow and evolve based on player feedback. But let's not kid ourselves here, folks. The chances EA will remove the questionable parts of this system are basically zero. They would need to do so by Nov. 17, when the game is set to launch. Otherwise, anyone who spends money on loot boxes before an eventual shift away from the system would have very good reason to be outraged.
Perhaps the most frustrating part about EA's response is that, using Matthews' comment as an example, they knew this was going to happen. They're admitting that they purposefully included a system they knew would upset players, which doesn't say a lot of positive things about the development decisions being made right now.