The most loathed game publisher in history unlocked a new accomplishment today by managing to piss off a record number of gamers. And they did it, ironically enough, without paying a dime.
As of this writing, Electronic Arts, Inc. (EA) has the dubious distinction of having the most downvoted post in Reddit history. Their new Star Wars game, Battlefront II, requires players to either slog through 40 hours of gameplay to unlock one of the game’s heroes (such as Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader) or pay to speed up the process by purchasing credits. All but necessitating micro-transactions on top of a $60 purchase price had people a tad upset. In response to a user’s comment about seeking a refund, EA issued what could very well be the most poorly worded statement we’ve yet seen from the troubled company:
“The intent is to provide players with a sense of pride and accomplishment for unlocking different heroes.
As for cost, we selected initial values based upon data from the Open Beta and other adjustments made to milestone rewards before launch. Among other things, we’re looking at average per-player credit earn rates on a daily basis, and we’ll be making constant adjustments to ensure that players have challenges that are compelling, rewarding, and of course attainable via gameplay.
We appreciate the candid feedback, and the passion the community has put forth around the current topics here on Reddit, our forums and across numerous social media outlets.
Our team will continue to make changes and monitor community feedback and update everyone as soon and as often as we can.”
To say that many interpreted EA’s response as disingenuous is an understatement. The post on Reddit had 500,000 “downvotes” within 24 hours, and continues to fall precipitously. Many called bullshit on the claim that the unlocking system was built “… to provide players with a sense of pride and accomplishment…”, when it’s clear it’s designed to literally bore players into buying access to parts of a game they’ve already over-paid for.
So congratulations, EA, this is an historical moment for you, and for gaming. Back-pedaling furiously by reducing the amount of credits required to unlock heroes will not be enough this time. The micro-transaction paradigm is a dead end, and one any sensible gamer will resist.