In 2017, nothing was more likely to turn a player away from a game than the implementation of “loot crates.” The idea of buying a random item with a mere chance of getting something useful is not in line with the experience all gamers are looking for.
When Electronic Arts (EA) unveiled their latest multiplayer shooter, Star Wars: Battlefront 2, a vocal community of gamers quickly took a stand. The game went into beta in October and it was quickly discovered that the loot crate system in the game gave an upper hand to anyone looking to buy their way to victory.
Originally seen in “free to play” titles, the loot crate system has carried over to full retailer releases, often in ways that impact play. Purchasing these loot crates allows for gamers to unlock random items. Whether it is heroes, weapon upgrades, or simple things like celebrations, the majority impact the way players perform. The other flaw in this, even for those who want to buy loot crates, is the game’s ability to block a user from using content you have already unlocked. For example, you could unlock multiple upgrade cards for Darth Vader’s hero, but if you have not yet unlocked Darth Vader to begin with, the upgrades will go unused.
Gamers have taken to Reddit to express their dissatisfaction with EA and microtransactions. Early indications show unlocking a single hero without making any in-game purchases, could take roughly 40 hours. Alternatively, gamers can buy those heroes through loot crates and have a chance at unlocking the hero they want.
The conversation has evolved so far beyond Battlefront 2, that the topic now revolves around general aspects gamers feel are hurting the industry as a whole. Rampant microtransactions in the game brought to the forefront concerns gamers had settled with for too long. Some feel full retail release games have simply moved towards a “pay-to-win” model where those who spend the most reap the riches of victory.
EA’s reputation was put on blast throughout the outcry as well. This all came after EA took heat late last month for closing Visceral Games, joining a long list of once-promising studios that EA shut down. The company now lays claim to the most downvoted comment in Reddit history at -676,000 points. The comment, which regarded the lengthy time it takes to unlock a single hero without buying loot crates, drew hate because it failed to acknowledge how easy it is to purchase a hero instead.
On Wednesday, November 16th, in preparation for the game’s release on Friday, the developers took to Reddit for an AMA (ask me anything). Comments were flooded by upset gamers and the devs made little effort to respond to an overwhelming amount of complaints about loot crates. The overall goal of the topic only did more to upset gamers.
One of the most popular questions to go unanswered came from Reddit user Jimquisition. He brought up if the loot crate system was even acceptable by nature, as in many ways the system is comparable to gambling. With the game receiving a “T” rating, gamers over the age of 13 can play the game. Yet this is younger than the legal gambling age, and as Jimquisition points out, could eventually result in legal troubles for EA and other games that use a similar system.
Associate design director Dennis Brannvall told Gamespot that he was “incredibly saddened” by the poor reception Battlefront 2 had received before launch. Gamers feel the same way, as generally speaking the gameplay and graphics looked quite pleasing, but the loot crate and progression system have hindered the overall experience.