The Last Jedi and The Last Straw
It seems that publishers will, intentionally or unwittingly, forget that it’s also important to deliver a gaming experience that gamers would actually want to pay for.
With EA getting microtransactions so terribly wrong – especially with Star Wars Battlefront II, the downward spiral of a rollercoaster ride it gave itself was so blindingly fast that it’s so difficult to keep up. Now that things have slowed down a bit, I thought I’d cover everything else that happened, which brings me nicely to a message that EA has made abundantly clear, even to those with cognitive impairment – microtransactions have no place in a premium game.
Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion. And on the topic of microtransactions, there are two main camps – those who believe as I do, that microtransactions don’t belong in US$60 (RM250) games, and those who are objectively wrong. And I now say this with more confidence than ever due to two things that EA did. The first is telling its investors that turning off microtransactions won’t affect their bottom line. The other being the improvement to in-game rewards in Star Wars Battlefront II.
It couldn’t possibly be made any clearer that games are not too expensive to make that microtransactions are necessary to keep selling them at US$60 viable, short of a game publisher admitting outright without any corporate doublespeak. Besides, what we got was an admission of guilt that’s as clear as day that EA will still profit as expected even without microtransactions. Of course, if you’re a company with obvious financial obligations to investors, it’s never enough to make money; you have to make as much money as possible – or even better, all the money in the world.
Then came the time when EA improved Credits earning in Star Wars Battlefront II. Not only has the general amount of Credits earned per game nearly doubled, the amount of Credits you earn per game actually reflects performance. The MVP of each round is no longer getting a mere 10 Credits more than someone who spent the whole game AFK. The daily Credit cap of Arcade Mode has also been tripled, and you get more now from you daily login bonus’ loot crate.
All these improvements to progression rates not only suggests, but is clear evidence that progression was set diabolically slow before this to ‘give players the freedom of choice’, to suffer through mind-numbing tediousness and boredom of the grind, or pay more money to progress. Some choice, that is. Might as well give players the choice between being run over by a train or drowning in a pool of hydrochloric acid. If progression wasn’t gimped to make you buy into microtransactions, then there would be no need to fix the progression system after microtransactions have been frozen.
If this string of events isn’t the clearest proof that the actual in-game rewards negatively affected by microtransactions being shoehorned in, then the PlayStation 2 is not the best selling console of all time.
The bottom line here is, EA or any other publisher is entirely capable of creating a balanced game. But at the same time, while chasing short-term profits for investors, it seems that publishers will, intentionally or unwittingly, forget that it’s also important to deliver a gaming experience that gamers would actually want to pay for, to get that money for the investors in the first place. It’s one thing to want your cake and eat it too, but it’s another entirely to want to spoil the ingredients used to make the cake in the first place.
On the consumer end of things, the battle is won but the war rages on. EA’s stocks may have dropped US$6 billion in value, but let’s not get complacent. Keep the pressure up, and we’ll be able to at least stave off microtransactions from spoiling our games. Or at the very least, the predatory loot boxes.
And on that still cynical bombshell, adieu to y’all.