There are some moments in time that are pivotal. Fixed points in time, where humanity’s history made a mark that forever changed out species. Think of the first Neanderthal to wonder why he couldn’t feel his legs when he discovered the existence of sharks, the French Revolution kickstarting class warfare by making monarchy heads roll or Hong Kong’s recent pro-democracy protests.
And then there’s EA. The company behind many a game, EA has gone deep into the idea of live service titles that are littered with microtransactions, and while their take on the concurrent spending model has somewhat been dialled back a bit in recent months, that’s only because their hand was forced. So step into my T.A.R.D.I.S which totally isn’t a cardboard painted blue and filled with the most huffable of paint fumes and travel back to the year that was 2017.
In this ancient and almost forgotten time, Star Wars Battlefront 2 had just been released and something was rotten in the state of Denmark. Loot boxes were out of control, the chances of unlocking a character to use in a multiplayer game required a grind of note and in a spot of damage control, EA’s mystery community manager of reddit left a comment that had players fuming. Here’s that infamous comment, in all of its unedited glory to help complete the time warp:
The intent is to provide players with a sense of pride and accomplishment for unlocking different heroes.
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.
Let me put this into perspective for you: Imagine buying a new car and being told that the coffee cup holders will only unlock once you’ve driven to the moon. Or imagine if the radio was kept behind a timed gate that would only be made available once you’d experienced the hell of ten years in a traffic jam/Monday morning on a Gauteng road.
The amount of hate, anger and disbelief thrown at this comment was legendary, so much so in fact that the annual repository of human oh by the beard of Odin please notice me senpai achievements have awarded EA with the dubious honour of “Most downvoted comment on Reddit”. Yup, this year’s Guinness World Record collection includes a brief passage on EA’s blunder according to reddit user Amasha. In a delicious twist of irony, Amasha’s own comment has almost 90 000 likes at the time of writing.
I’m still of the mind that for once, all this fan hatred wasn’t just well deserved but absolutely necessary. 2017 was not the best year for video games, and with big names in the industry looking to grab their consumers by the legs, hoist them upside down and shake every bit of change loose from their pockets, a breaking point was inevitable.
Star Wars Battlefront 2 was the shiny straw on a very pissed off camel’s back that was already overloaded with all manner of hook ‘n bait tactics, eventually snapping like Batman’s spine from a Bane hug. EA’s blunder paved the way for people to get serious about their dislike of predatory microtransactions and while the industry is still absolutely littered with them, there has been a slow and steady change in the years since then to stop fleecing consumers after launch.
Or at the very least, to make those microtransactions less obvious. Unless you’re 2K Games that is.
Last Updated: September 9, 2019