Paid Loot Crates Are Bad For Gamers, And EA Knows It

Paid Loot Crates Are Bad For Gamers, And EA Knows It

EA’s plan was to have people pay real money for an in-game currency that allows players to purchase ‘Loot Crates’ that provide random rewards. Sounds like a slot machine.
Brad Jackson
By

This week was supposed to be the exciting, triumphant debut of the latest Star Wars video game, “Star Wars Battlefront II.” Following on the heels of its very underwhelming predecessor, “Battlefront II” was advertised as giving you a chance to play with your favorite heroes and villains across all eras of the Star Wars universe on planets and in ships from the classic movies, the prequels, and the newest generation of films. However, the reality is quite different.

Most every Star Wars fan would love to play “Battlefront” as Darth Vader. Why not? He’s one of the best bad guys in all of cinema, and to slaughter digital Rebels with your lightsaber and force chokes is great fun. Unfortunately, you can’t do that out of the box. You have to earn him.

When the beta of the game came out recently, players picked up on this and complained. Loudly! EA’s plan was to have people pay real money for an in-game currency that allows players to purchase “Loot Crates” that provide random rewards for the game, which may or may not include something a player wants.

Sounds similar to loading coins in a slot machine, pulling the lever and hoping to hit it big, doesn’t it? There’s the problem. Many think that this system is akin to gambling, and they might be right. The Dutch think so, and their authorities are now investigating the matter to determine if loot crates can be classified as online gambling. If they are, it’s likely the end of the loot crate money grab that is becoming all the rage in gaming these days. Cross your fingers!

The Game Price Should Buy the Game

The reaction to “Battlefront’s” real-money loot crates has been vociferous, and inescapable. EA has been pounded by the gaming community for this, and last night they finally relented. In a statement issued on Twitter, the company said, “We hear you loud and clear, so we’re turning off all in-game purchases.” With the change, “all progression will be earned through gameplay.” That means that instead of purchasing Darth Vader, your opportunity to play as him will only come through playing “Battlefront” until your thumbs bleed.

That’s a step in the right direction, but still not good enough. If you’re going to advertise that you can play as the iconic Star Wars characters we all know and love, then actually provide that ability upfront. For $60, that’s the least you can do for gamers.

Why are gamers so upset by loot crates? It’s pretty simple. When you buy a triple A title like “Battlefront,” it will set you back about $60. That ain’t cheap. Then gaming companies want you to spend additional money just to play the game you deserve from the start. That’s not fair, and although it may seem like a good way to boost the bottom line of a game, it’s bad for gamers, and EA knows it, that’s why they bent to public pressure and temporarily pulled the payment feature.

The Gameplay ‘Earning’ Is Absurd

This isn’t over yet, because whether you can pay for it or not, the ability to play the game you were promised is still light years away. An analysis done by Star Wars Gaming found that it will take more than 4,500 hours of gameplay just to “earn” all the base-game content. If EA’s loot crate payment system had stayed in place you could shortcut that time by spending a whopping $2,100 to secure game elements that were advertised.

Both of those numbers are absurd. To put it in perspective, that’s more than 187 days’ worth of play time. In what world does that make sense? Who has 4,500 hours to play a video game? Even kids in school who spend all their spare time in their parents’ basements glued to their Playstations don’t have that kind of time.

This isn’t the first problem EA has had with gamers this year. The first came from the epic disaster that was “Mass Effect: Andromeda” in March. Neither of these games shipped in the condition they should have. “Mass Effect” had a disappointing story, bad animations, and an unacceptable amount of bugs. The fan reaction was so bad that EA reassigned the developers of “Mass Effect” (some of them to this game) and put one of their best franchises “on ice.” Now they screw up Star Wars.

It’s time to ask the question, “Does EA really know what gamers want, or are they just out to bleed them dry?”

Brad Jackson is a writer and radio personality whose work has appeared at ABC, CBS, Fox News, and multiple radio programs. He was the longtime host and producer of Coffee & Markets, an award-winning podcast and radio show with more than 1,500 episodes. Brad covers all things edible and cultural for The Federalist. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram at @bradwjackson.

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