Electronic Arts today announced that the company is removing all in-game microtransactions for Star Wars Battlefront II, an aboutface that comes on the eve of the game's release and after the publisher faced weeks of backlash over its system for selling timely access for in-game heroes and content. But, the company added that those in-game purchases will return at some later date.
"As we approach the worldwide launch, it's clear that many of you feel there are still challenges in the design," writes Oskar Gabrielson, GM, DICE, on a blog post on the game's site. "We’ve heard the concerns about potentially giving players unfair advantages. And we’ve heard that this is overshadowing an otherwise great game. This was never our intention. Sorry we didn’t get this right.
"We hear you loud and clear, so we’re turning off all in-game purchases. We will now spend more time listening, adjusting, balancing and tuning. This means that the option to purchase crystals in the game is now offline, and all progression will be earned through gameplay. "
While the immediate news means that the game will not have microtransactions at launch, it doesn't mean they're gone for good.
"The ability to purchase crystals in-game will become available at a later date, only after we’ve made changes to the game," Gabrielson wrote. "We’ll share more details as we work through this."
"We have created a game that is built on your input, and it will continue to evolve and grow. Star Wars Battlefront II is three times the size of the previous game, bringing to life a brand new Star Wars story, space battles, epic new multiplayer experiences across all three Star Wars eras, with more free content to come. We want you to enjoy it, so please keep your thoughts coming. And we will keep you updated on our progress."
Earlier this week, EA detailed significant cuts in the cost to unlock characters in its game and promised to continue to listen to player feedback.
Most importantly, Electronic Arts announced at the time that they were reducing the number of credits needed to unlock top characters in the game by 75 percent.
"Making games great comes from regular tuning," John Wasilczyk, Executive Producer at DICE, wrote at the time. "As one example, today we’re making a substantial change based on what we’ve seen during the Play First trial. There’s been a lot of discussion around the amount of in-game credits (and time) it takes to unlock some of our heroes, especially Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. Unlocking a hero is a great accomplishment in the game, something we want players to have fun earning. We used data from the beta to help set those levels, but it’s clear that more changes were needed."
But even after those reductions a player estimated that it would take more than 4,500 hours to unlock every base-game piece of content in Star Wars Battlefront II, or about $2,100.
It was clear that fans of the game remained unhappy with the way the microtransactions were being handled.
While Star Wars Battlefront II is a full-priced retail game, a number of the heroes playable in the game can only be unlocked with in-game credits. Those credits can either be earned through hours of gameplay or purchased instantly with real-world cash. One gamer estimates that before today's discount, it would have taken about 40 hours to unlock Darth Vader without spending extra money.