Star Wars Battlefront II has a serious problem with pay to win, and I’m not buying it till its fixed

It’s only the first beta weekend for Star Wars Battlefront II, but I’m already luke warm on the game. The gameplay is fantastic, the sound design makes my ears orgasm, and the new system for heroes and powerups actually makes some sense. On top of that the ship based space combat is so much fun I played it for 5 hours straight without getting bored at all.  Sadly, all of this is completely canceled out by the looming specter of micro-transactions that this game is completely buried under.  This is just one symptom of a problem has become endemic to our beloved gaming industry, loot boxes, pay to win, and other systems that prey on gamers power fantasies to extract money in exchange for power ups in game. It’s time to talk about pay to win, and how its ruining the gaming industry.

Does that look familiar? Two currencies and a raw materials set. It should its all the ingredients for Pay to Win

I’m zooming in and out of the crevices of a ship dock in my TIE interceptor, chasing a Y wing bomber, and a pair of photon torpedos locks on to me and blow my butt away. Normally I would have survived one impact like that, but my opponent has a special gold Star Card that gives his torpedoes a whopping 40% more damage than normal. Now he didn’t pay cash money for that card in this beta, but to anyone who plays games in this modern era of microtranactions, you already know he will be able to when the game launches. The systems are in place, even if EA and DICE aren’t collecting any money just yet, this game is primed for money making.

Its not just torpedoes either. The games crate system reaches every single aspect of it. There are weapon cards for each of the games 4 classes, there are cards for different (and more powerful) items, for each class, and breaking down cards gives you the needed scrap to get add-ons for your current weapons. So deeply baked in to the game are these micro-transactions that EA and DICE present them as totally normal, even giving you the first one for free. From what I have seen the game is even offering MMO like incentives to players to log in every day.

MMMMMMM gambling based micro-transactions in a game targeted at kids and teens. Complete with shiny effects to keep you hooked.

It wouldn’t be so bad, but the disparity between levels of cards absolutely borders on the ridiculous. The Tie Interceptor features a card that gives you an increased rate of fire and the levels are 5%/10%/15%/20%. The aforementioned torpedo cards spread are 15%/20%/30/%40%.  That’s a huge difference between someone who has basic card and someone who has an epic card. That doesn’t even touch on the fact that new players who have no cards are at a serious disadvantage from having no cards at all. At no point ever, will a new player be able to pick up this game, and just play on a level playing field with others.

So, is Star Wars Battlefront II pay to win? Right now, it sure looks like it is. The game even features the trademark two currency system that was born in the micro transaction laden world of MOBA’s and free to play games. Seeing that set of icons on the top of the screen, that was the moment that really finally got to me. Here is this beautiful game full of amazing Star Wars flare, and I can spend 200$ and feel like a god in it. I wont have to earn my place among the legends like Maul and Fett I can just buy my way in.

Ok, so I made that 200$ number up, but the point is the same. To understand how this works, I have to explain a little bit of the games mechanics. Each class (including the three starship ones) has abilities. These abilities function a bit like hero shooter abilities, they do something powerful (like a grenade or shotgun) and then have a cool down. These abilities can be swapped out using various cards that you get from those boxes that you can now buy. Are you seeing the same problem that I am? The cards also contain guns, as each class has at least two, and some guns are side grades, but others, like the one for the sniper class are serious upgrades. So while the guy who spent 50$ on the game has the basic sniper rifle, I spent 100$ and got myself a nice DMR style rifle that has a higher rate of fire, and better damage than the basic sniper rifle. So with my increased rate of fire, I can easily kill him, because I spent money. That doesn’t even touch on the cards that replace abilities which don’t even have a level cap. You can use them from the moment you get them. At least the cards that just give you more power require some time to unlock.

Reinforced hull (that last card there) is code for more health. You can literally pay for more health.

Yes, there is a level cap for cards. It’s a simple 2/5/10 in the beta, but I imagine it will be more in the full game. That level cap only applies to bonus cards (like that torpedo damage card) and not the ability cards, or weapons. So, with enough money you can start the game with a serious advantage. Even the games newly revamped heroes aren’t free from this pay-to-win epidemic.  One of Boba Fett’s cards makes him totally immune to damage while firing his rockets midair and gives him a 10% damage bonus  but only at the gold level. Remember that interceptor I was piloting in the beginning? By the time im writing this article Redditor Cognimancer pointed out that it could have “a +20% rate of fire increase, a +20% damage increase, and a -40% heat buildup.” I am not a math person but that seems like serious advantage to anyone with the funds to get those cards.

Because you are for sure going to get dozen if not hundreds of duplicate cards, EA and DICE offers crafting resources that you get from breaking down duplicates. These materials are then used to upgrade guns, things like scopes and silencers. Even more egregiously, you can use those materials to level up cards. You can also of course get the raw materials from boxes. Are you starting to see the problem? I know I am, and it’s a problem that’s going to stop me from buying this game. There are also of course cosmetic items mixed in, further  watering down the pool of good items you can get, and forcing you go buy more boxes.

Gotta incentiveize those log-ins right? Keep the players coming back to spend more and more money and time

But, this is all speculative right? No, no, its not. The game already showed Its’s hand with boxes, and on the top where you see the amount of “credits” that you have, there is also a little symbol that looks just a bit like a box, and will probably be a premium currency of some type. This is a common tatic with games with boxes, as it allows the developer to say everything can be earned, without lying at all.  It is of course just a smoke screen, each box costs about 1,000 credits and even when doing well I earn maybe 200 credits per game. Each game takes around 15 minutes so lets say it games me 2.5 hours to earn a box, or I you know I can just spend 10$ and probably get a bunch with 0 time investment. That’s the definition of pay-to-win.

So late in this games development it seems unlikely that any of the many seemingly pay to win systems can be changed, but its not too late to show EA that we wont tolerate this kind of Pay to Win behavior. so vote with your wallet, and don’t preorder this game, don’t but it at launch, and show EA and DICE that this kind of micro-transaction heavy gameplay is unacceptable to gamers. We can still save our industry from turning in to a slot machine that preys on kids, but we need to vote with our wallet.

  • Worm Reply
    Oct 8, 2017 @ 14:34 pm

    thanks for the heads up

  • Dakota Brown Reply
    Oct 8, 2017 @ 19:17 pm

    I’m not a fan of pay to win. It would be better if the paid items were limited to cosmetic effects, but at least you can still earn all this stuff through regular gameplay. Yeah there will be players with an edge in the begining, but a skilled player can still overpower a less skilled player with better abilities. Hopefully they tweak the system a little but I’m not going to let this stop me from buying the game. I’m just grateful they are when making games like this again so I’m going to support them.

  • BTB Reply
    Oct 8, 2017 @ 19:48 pm

    So it’s not pay to win, is play to win. You get credits for playing well, use those for the crates.

  • Multiwizard Reply
    Oct 8, 2017 @ 20:15 pm

    EA does the same with the Madden games. The problem is that second type of currency might only available with cash. In Madden, coins are made by playing games and completing challenges. Green credits are obtained by buying them. You can’t use one to buy the other. Which is fine but some of the better card packs are only available with the green credits,thus cash. You’re definitely right. In Battlefront, that little symbol between the credits and the tools will only be available by spending cash if EA does what they always do.

  • Seabeegrrl Reply
    Oct 8, 2017 @ 21:21 pm

    Being a huge SW fan, I preordered this game a month ago. I wish I had known about the inclusion of microtransactions before I bought it. Playing the beta only confirmed my fears: if EA leaves it as is, the game will be ruined for me and many others. As someone who has logged innumerable hours on the last Battlefront game and EARNED all of the star cards, etc, it really p#sses me off that people are going to pay to win this version. This will probably be the last EA game I buy.

    • Bann Reply
      Oct 9, 2017 @ 2:40 am

      Thats why pre-ordering is not a good idea. Plus nearly every EA game let alone any other game made by big publishers these days have had them.

    • DarthDiggler Reply
      Oct 9, 2017 @ 15:19 pm

      @Seabeegrrl

      There is no season pass so how did you think EA was going to set up a long term revenue stream business model? Every DICE game supports micro-transactions for loot crates. I have played 3 maybe 4 DICE games with micro-transactions and I have never purchased ONE of their crates. Its not necessary at all.

      You know what else isn’t necessary is people publishing articles whinging about things that are simply NOT TRUE.

      This game isn’t pay to win. You can earn anything you want by playing the game.

      What is true is the author is a cry baby. I am so sick of people whining about micro-transactions when there is nothing exclusive to the loot crates that can’t be earned in game. You can earn star cards that are already leveled up. If some idiot wants to spend money to level up their star cards right away MORE POWER TO THEM! They are not using their money wisely.

  • Pogo Reply
    Oct 9, 2017 @ 0:14 am

    First things first: good read with a typo at the end “buy” not “but”.
    I’m with you in being worried, but I hope (dream) that this game still could take a Rainbow Six Seige approach to microtransactions; where they put a whole slew of cool cosmetic items behind a paywall, while making it easier for those willing to invest real cash to get upgrades quickly. The good thing about the R6 implementation is that it doesn’t break the game. If you invest your time, you’ll be on a level playing field with everyone else.

    Again, this is just a hope (dream), but if EA is smart, they will see how well this has worked for Ubisoft in growing their game community to a point where it’s healthier now than it was at launch almost two years ago. It breeds loyalty and keeps people coming back. If I’m still playing a title a year after release, I have no problem shelling out an extra $30 to show the devs I support their work.

    All that being said, I know we’re dealing with EA here and they’ll probably just bleed us dry. A gamer can dream, though.

  • hvd2222 Reply
    Oct 9, 2017 @ 13:53 pm

    to buy an item in game that gives you an advantage over some one else is PAY TO WIN….i wont buy this game my self if thats the case.

    • DarthDiggler Reply
      Oct 12, 2017 @ 10:51 am

      @hvd2222

      This article is overly alarmist. You can’t simply BUY things that work better. You can buy loot crates with random stuff in them, but that doesn’t mean its better. For one thing everything you get from a loot crate swaps out one power for another. What is better depends on the player and how they play.

      In the beta the currency to buy more loot crates was very generous. You could earn enough to buy a crate every 5-10 games.. Class specific crates will drop every so many levels you upgrade the class. You get a crate daily just for logging in.

      This article paints this system in the absolute worse possible light and it doesn’t not represent the experience I had.

  • DarthDiggler Reply
    Oct 9, 2017 @ 15:14 pm

    What a load of garbage.

    The currency for buying the loot boxes was quite generous. You could also craft something you specifically wanted. There was literally nothing you couldn’t earn just by playing that was available via premium loot crates.

    I stopped reading about 1/3rd of this article through because it was just so inaccurate.

    DICE has a very good reputation of balancing everything. If there are items that separate very good players from not very good players that will generally be worked out with matchmaking.

    People do not have an inherit advantage just based on what star cards they use. Star cards can be earned without buying them. This article is a load of crapola.

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