Electronic Arts Angers Star Wars Fans
Over the past couple of weeks, fans of Star Wars in particular and video games in general have joined together in a campaign to overturn Electronic Arts’ decision to include microtransactions in their new interactive title Battlefront II.
The key issue according to the critics of EA’s new features, is the fact many of the rewards available to players through a system of “loot boxes” are upgrades that can affect progression in the game and also give multiplayer competitors a significant advantage in player vs. player combat. Loot boxes are packages of randomly selected in-game rewards made available to players who overcome various challenges in the game world.
When it was discovered these so-called “loot boxes” could also be purchased with real currency, what was at first a dispute over fairness exploded on to front pages worldwide. So strident were detractors of Battlefront II’s features that the Walt Disney Corporation, owner of the Star Wars interactive rights, reportedly intervened to put a stop to further availability of “paid upgrades” as they came to be known.
State lawmakers in Hawaii, including Representatives Chris Lee and Sean Quinlan, held a news conference decrying what they referred to as “predatory” practices on the part of Electronic Arts, and vowing to investigate what they call “gambling” game mechanics aimed at children. The governments of other nations, including those of Belgium and Australia, have launched their own investigations.
Electronic Arts made a rapid decision to reduce the amount of game time required to acquire the most valuable rewards and also removed the ability to buy loot boxes with real world currency. Although they apparently have reserved the right to re-introduce the mechanics at a later date, for now Star Wars fans are satisfied with their ability to play Battlefront II as their favorite characters from the film series.