EA’s “Star Wars Battlefront II” set the video game industry on fire, but not quite in the ways the publisher had hoped for.
Early on, the game’s extensive reliance on microstransactions drew more fire than a stationary Stormtrooper. The online multiplayer game was planned to revolve around a system of loot crates, randomized digital boxes of in-game gear that are essential for player progress — and that cost real-world money to unlock. In fact, early-access gamers calculated that it would cost $2,100 to unlock all of the game’s content. The move prompted worldwide ire, inspiring lawmakers in the U.S., Belgium and the UK to chime in over what many perceived as legally dubious gambling. Hawaii Senator Chris Lee called the game, “a ‘Star Wars’-themed online casino designed to lure kids into spending money.”
When an EA spokesperson commented on Reddit and attempted to explain the reasons for paid loot crates, it became the most downvoted in Reddit history. For the moment, EA has totally scrapped its original microtransaction plan for “Battlefront” while it works on an alternative, but the damage has already been done; by late November, the debacle had wiped out $3 billion in stock value for the company.