Since the troubles began for EA over microtransactions in “Star Wars: Battlefront 2” the hits have just kept coming, and is spurring an industry wide blow back against the practices behind microtransactions, as well as loot boxes, which some are calling gambling. For some background, this much anticipated title from EA games was looking to be a crowning achievement, as all videos and demos shown before release seemed to show a more polished game, that had take gamer feedback into consideration in every way possible. Then, the loot came, and the players rebelled against the evil empire. With an obscenely slow progression system towards unlocking characters, some taking upwards of 40 hours of gameplay required to unlock them without purchasing “loot boxes”, and EA hiding high level in game content that could easily influence gameplay, gamers noticed that this game was headed very quickly towards “pay to win” territory. Within a few days, fan backlash was so brutal towards EA that EA completely shut down the ability to purchase loot boxes in game, and lowered the in game currency cost for special characters. Even with this, the game offers so few credits per game, no matter how well or poorly you perform, that a lot of fans have been up in arms about that as well. Overall, the words “shit show” don’t begin to describe it.
On the back of two state legislators from Hawaii, Chris Lee and Sean Quinlan, vowing to take action against microtransactions, loot boxes, and in game monetazation, the industry has already begun to see the affects.
This game is basically a Star-Wars themed online casino designed to lure kids into an addictive cycle of spending money gambling for upgrades. It’s a Trap. https://t.co/bPaG8ibh37
— Chris Lee (@chrisleeforhi) November 22, 2017
In less than 10 days since they asked the attorney general to help them start looking into policies to prohibit the sale of games that have in game monetization to minors, or perhaps altogether, several big names in the industry have seen their stocks drop by a percentage that notable to say the least. According to CNBC on Wednesday Activision Blizzard (Creators of wildly popular series Starcraft, World of Warcraft, and League of Legends) saw their shares fall 6%, Electronics Arts saw their shares fall 3.6% (According to Forbes, this number is over 8% down for EA on the month since the backlash over SWBF2), and Take-Two Interactive, who recently announced they would have microtransactions in all of their games, as I discussed here, also saw a drop in their shares of 4.1%. I think it’s also worth noting, that Ubisoft, who made more money off of microtransactions in the first half of 2017 vs actual sales of digital games, has seen a drop between monday-thursday of roughly 4.5 points. Whether this is just a momentary dip as industry speculation runs rampant will remain to be seen. Either way, I hope it ends up being a wake up call for some publishers, and I hope the fans stay consistent with the lack of tolerance for these kinds of practices.