November 20, 2017
Star Wars Battlefront Enrages Gamers
It was supposed to be the re-emergence of one of the most popular video game franchises in recent memory. The Star Wars Battlefront series delighted and engaged a generation of gamers. The latest installment, though, seems to have enraged them.
The new Battlefront game landed with huge fanfare, but it didn’t take long for fans to turn on the creators of the game, Electronic Arts (EA). At the heart of the criticism is the accusation that EA expects games to “pay to play” even after the purchase the game.
Specific complaints include the amount of time it takes to advance in the game or to unlock features that are necessary to continue. Then there’s the money involved. In the game, players are expected to pay real money to unlock virtual boxes, even though they don’t know what might be waiting inside. Some of the items are preferable for players hoping to continue in the game. Some of the items are simply bonuses. Players don’t have any idea ahead of time.
The rage has grown so hostile, that game regulators in Belgium are actually investigating the game to determine if it constitutes a form of gambling, rather than honest gaming. EA has commented publicly on that charge, claiming the “mechanics of Star Wars Battlefront II are not gambling… A player’s ability to succeed in the game is not dependent on purchasing [looting boxes]… Players can also earn [looting boxes] through playing the game and not spending any money at all…”
While regulators have not answered that charge, a growing number of gamers certainly have. They are livid about having to pay about $60 for the game then having to cough up hundreds more just to, in their mind, get through the game.
So, who’s being accurate? Well, according to multiple reports, what EA is saying is technically accurate. You can get through the game without paying, it just takes longer Much longer, according to the irate gamers. The alternative, offered repeatedly, is to pay now to instantly unlock the hidden features. This kind of “pay to play” format is hardly new, but in this instance, players are insisting it’s gone way overboard.
One group of gamers claims it could take up to six years to complete the game without paying for the features. The alternative, paying, could cost up to $2,000. At least, that’s what they are claiming, and many other gamers are taking that as gospel.
These reviews have been toxic for Battlefront sales. Regardless of how EA feels about the criticism, the company must counter the narrative in an effective way if it wants the game to succeed. Without something to stop this avalanche of bad press and angry gamers, EA could be in real trouble.
Ronn Torossian is the Founder and CEO of the New York based public relations firm 5WPR: one of the 20 largest PR Firms in the United States.