Update 4:40 PM 11/13/2017: After this story was published, Electronic Arts announced that it will reduce the amount of credits needed to unlock top heroes in the game by 75 percent. "We’re making the changes to the credit levels for unlocking heroes and we’re going to keep making changes to improve the game experience over time. We welcome the conversation," the company said.
The original story follows below:
Video game fans anticipating this week’s release of Star Wars: Battlefront II are upset. Over the weekend, as information about how the game loot box system works, and specifically how long it would take players to unlock the Darth Vader hero character without spending money, made its way onto the internet, those fans took to Reddit to voice their displeasure. When an EA Community Manager account attempted to step in and allay fears, Redditors downvoted EA’s comment en masse.
As of this writing, the comment has more than 280k downvotes. That makes it the most downvoted comment in Reddit history. It’s not even close. The next most downvoted comment sits at 24k and that’s because the poster literally asked for it.
“Seriously? I paid 80$ to have Vader locked?” Redditor MBMMaverick asked in the /r/StarWarsBattlefront subreddit. User EACommunityTeam—an account associated with the game publisher—replied.
“The intent is to provide players with a sense of pride and accomplishment for unlocking different heroes,” the EA rep wrote on Reddit. “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.”
Battlefront fans didn’t like the response and have now downvoted the response hundreds of thousands of times. This might be bad news for Star Wars: Battlefront II, which is the game at the center of a loot box controversy that’s been gathering steam all year.
Games such as Overwatch, Call of Duty: World War II, and Middle-Earth: Shadow of War come with a $60 price tag and a premium economy of optional loot boxes built in. Video game fans often express outrage at the practice but buy the games and the loot boxes anyway.
The upcoming Star Wars game is another game with a $60 price tag and a premium economy tied to loot boxes, but EA seems to have flown too close to the sun this time. The game isn’t out until November 17, but media outlets have their review copies and anyone with EA Access—a subscription based service that gives EA fans discounts and free trials—can try out Battlefront II for 10 hours before the game’s official release.
People aren’t happy about the current state of the game. Battlefront II is primarily a competitive multiplayer shooter. Players use credits to purchase loot crates containing cards that upgrade a player’s weapons and abilities. Gamers can either spend time playing the game to grind out the credits or just pay EA for a premium currency to open up a bunch of boxes.
Things got worse for EA last week when an enterprising Redditor played Battlefront, did some math, and made a spreadsheet showing how long it would take to unlock items. TheHotterPotato discovered that, in its current state, Battlefront II gives out credits based on time spent playing, not on skill. That means players are locked into a grind regardless of how well they perform in matches.
According to TheHotterPotato’s math, players unwilling to drop more cash on a $60 game will have to spend 40 hours of grinding through matches to unlock playable heroes such as Chewbacca and Palpatine. To get Luke or Darth Vader requires 60 hours of grinding. Each.
The release of the Star Wars: Battlefront II is still days away from release and there’s time for EA to change the formula and—despite fan backlash—it's engaging the community. The same EA account with the epic downvoted comment also reached out on the Reddit thread about the spreadsheet revealing the hero grind.
“We're looking at the results daily and will be continuing to tune this to ensure that players feel a meaningful sense of reward for the time they spend with Battlefront 2,” the EA rep said. “We appreciate the conversation here, and our team is working to make the best choices possible for the game and the players. We will provide more details and updates as we can.”
Star Wars: Battlefront II comes out on November 17 and redditors have organized both a boycott and campaign to refund their pre-orders of the game.