As EA and DICE celebrate the second release of the rebooted Battlefront franchise, all eyes are focused on the controversy surrounding the implementation of the game’s loot boxes. Although they can be purchased using in-game currency earned by playing the game, players can also pay for a set amount of the premium currency, called crystals, and subsequently use them to purchase crates without even stepping foot in a single multiplayer match. The controversy stems from the fact that any crate has a chance of unlocking star cards, that give players advantageous over others. This is called a “pay-to-win” mechanic and is looked down upon, especially since you still need to pay for the game itself.
With EA attempting to turn the game into a long-lasting service, there need to be immediate changes made to the game for it to survive. While the general gameplay loop of multiplayer matches isn’t being called into question, the entire player progression system needs a complete overhaul. What I am suggesting serves as what I would do if I were working on the project, and while it may not be a permanent long-term solution, it is the best option for the immediate future.
First and foremost, the sale of the premium currency needs to stop, across all platforms. Anyone that already purchased crystals needs to have them removed and be refunded. While this can be a messy process, it needs to be done to ensure the integrity of the game is no longer comprised. The second piece involves removing the star cards (player boosts), credits, and crafting materials that were earned from the crates using the premium currency. The loot boxes then can be altered only to be purchasable using in-game currency. While I do have further issues with the way the progression is handled using these cards, that update can be later down the line.
If the publisher is adamant about using premium loot boxes, then they should look to mirror the implementation from other popular and successful games, such as Overwatch. In the game developed by Blizzard, loot boxes can be purchased as well as earned in-game, but the contents are purely cosmetic, meaning they have no bearing on gameplay. There are almost an infinite amount of things that can be used in a Star Wars game that can be considered cosmetic. All of the game’s heroes can have alternate appearances, as some already do, including Kylo Ren, and Rey. This can be taken a step further and built upon the years of Star Wars content. In Battlefront II, Jedi Knight Luke appears in an outfit that matches what he wore in the movie Return of the Jedi. Why can’t his farm boy outfit from A New Hope, his rebel pilot outfit, Hoth uniform, Dagobah training clothing, and even a cloaked and hooded version of the Return of the Jedi outfit be used? That’s only thinking about the appearance options for a single hero. There are chances for DICE to expand upon the victory poses, emotes, and even weapons, adding tons of content to the premium crates. While they can be purchased using real-life currency, they still need to be earned just from playing the game. This ensures that you are giving the fans options.
In the end, EA and Dice hold the future in their hands, but if something is not done quickly, the concept of having long-term investments in Star Wars Battlefront II will be moot. The longer they wait to make changes, the harder it will be to win back those that see this as a money-grab and exploitation. In fact, it may already be too late.