AAA Homevid Title In the Crosshairs

Since October, corners of the Internet have been aflame with ire decrying the latest Star Wars game from AAA publisher Electronic Arts. Star Wars Battlefront 2 was EA’s first attempted foray into a microtransaction-based form of monetization with the base game costing the standard $60, without a focus on season passes or deluxe editions to boost that ticket price (as is common in the home game industry today). Instead, EA’s strategy seemed to be to convince the hordes of Star Wars fans to buy into another common moneymaking idea in gaming — loot boxes — where players purchase in-game crates that potentially contain powerful items using either real dollars or hard-to-acquire, in-game currency.

The state of Hawaii announces actions to address the alleged “predatory practices” of EA and other companies creating games that some see as verging on gambling.

Since the game’s beta release, this has erupted into controversy. Although EA is following in the footsteps of many home/online game developers before them, those developers have many times ensured loot boxes only reward players with solely cosmetic items or items that don’t affect gameplay all too much. In Star Wars Battlefront 2, players saw a true “pay-to-win” model, meaning those who had more money were “better” at the game, not those with more skill. With that, many revolted. In a huff, EA removed all microtransactions from the game in the days before its full release on Nov. 17.

Although the world of home games is far from our industry, it may pay to stay cognizant of the situation. EA’s stock has dropped in response to the public outcry, in the U.S. and abroad some government officials have taken notice of the word “gambling” and the company is now stuck with a game that can only be sold for $60, but was promised to bring in much more with microtransactions.

Whether the game turns out to be a fiscal flop is yet to be seen, although the massive public outcry over the company’s perceived greed certainly can’t be helping sales. No matter the result, it should serve as a reminder to our trade that promoting fair play and staying away from anything that can be construed as “gambling” when it comes to games for kids and families is ALWAYS the best way forward. Parents, legislators and masses of torch-bearing, easily mobilized online crowds are always watching.

Focusing on fun and fairness has worked for generations of game makers, as our industry still shows today with the AAMA’s recently penned Fair Play Pledge. RePlay continues to assert that this, and the philosophy of mutual benefit between game maker, operator and the customer it promotes, is the way to keep away from dangerous, potentially litigious, waters.


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