There has been a huge hullabaloo over the loot crates, microtransactions and gambling aspects of EA and DICE's upcoming Star Wars: Battlefront II. Never shy at letting a good opportunity go to waste, Blizzard decided to poke a little fun at Star Wars: Battlefront II while announcing that StarCraft II is now free-to-play.
The tweet was posted on the official StarCraft Twitter account, and it's actually part of a chain of tweets. The original tweet pokes fun at the recent controversy over the amount of grinding time required to unlock a character in Star Wars: Battlefront II, which was originally set for 40 hours if you wanted to unlock Darth Vader as a playable character.
There was a massive backlash against Electronic Arts for the amount of time required to unlock Darth Vader in the game, especially since you didn't have to unlock him in the first game. Many gamers saw it as a way to create an artificial barrier to entice gamers to spend real money to buy loot boxes and unlock the character quicker as opposed to grinding for him over the course of 40 hours. EA, in response, did make an announcement stating that the grind would be reduced, but also reduced the game's rewards as well.
Blizzard didn't stop at one tweet, though. The company also joked that you would have to spend zero hours grinding before you can play any of the Commanders in the co-op mode. But it didn't end there, the company also took a massive shot at EA with the whole weapons unlock system and class boosts via the Star Cards, saying that the number of pay-to-win mechanics in StarCraft II were zero.
For reference, in Star Wars: Battlefront II the game has loot boxes that you can unlock to earn new Star Cards, or earn crafting parts to build a Star Card. These cards unlock new abilities, boosts, and weapons for the various character classes in the game. So, you can unlock up to three new weapons for each of the classes, or you can unlock new ability cards that reduce cooldowns, increase fire-rates, boost defenses, or give you better accuracy or health. Many gamers reproached EA for this system being in the game because they found out during the beta that it can have a serious effect on the balance of the gameplay.
Essentially, being able to pay for upgrades and boosts is considered pay-to-win, since people who spend a lot of money on the game can gain a distinct advantage over other players. This is usually considered unacceptable even in free-to-play games, but it's a cardinal sin when it's featured in a full-priced AAA title.
Blizzard obviously gained a lot of slow-claps and head nods for the StarCraft II tweets, but that doesn't necessarily absolve Blizzard from the fact that Diablo III did launch with the Real-Money Auction House back in 2012, which was subject to various scams, investigations, and discussions regarding the ethical nature of the service. Blizzard eventually shut down the RMAH after receiving enough protest from the community about the feature.
Apparently, the company felt enough time had passed that it could take shots at EA and DICE for the loot box mechanics in Star Wars: Battlefront II.