Good job, EA. You’ve managed to ruin Star Wars video games. That always seemed impossible, but with Battlefront II, you’ve somehow made it happen.
While the sale of Lucasfilm to Disney has certainly revised the movie franchise over the past couple of years, Star Wars video games are currently in a more dire position than they’ve been in since the birth of the gaming art medium.
Where once upon a time fans of the Galaxy Far, Far Away enjoyed several key game releases a year, we’ve had just two console title since Disney purchased and summarily dissolved Lucasarts.
Mega publisher EA has the license to create games based on Star Wars, but the company seems strangely reluctant to actually make games based on this property. There have been a few free-to-play mobile games of varying quality (they’re all a bit terrible), and the two Battlefront games. That’s all we’ve received in all the time that EA has had the license.
Battlefront II has, to put it lightly, caused something of a stir. The game is perhaps the worst case yet of microtransations as gambling, with the entire game structured around random loot boxes that players have to spend real money to purchase, in addition to the cost of the game.
It’s impossible, for example, to earn the right to play as Darth Vader, unless you slog through around eighty hours of gruntwork within the game, or give up and purchase enough in-game currency to buy the character. Other equipment and perks are locked behind paywalls that are also random, meaning you won’t know what you’re going to get every time you throw cash at the game.
In a fairly big public relations blunder, EA has claimed that the game is meant to give players “a sense of pride and accomplishment” by making them work so hard to unlock stuff, unless they’re willing to shell out real money to fasttrack all this nonsense.
EA’s statement, by the way, is now the most downvoted comment in Reddit history, having been disliked well over six hundred thousand times.
This would be pretty bad as it is, with many longtime fans of the series threatening to boycott the game for its obvious penny-pinching core mechanic, but that’s not all EA has done recently to hurt Star Wars as a gaming series.
The megacorp recently demolished Visceral Games, creators of the Dead Space series, who had been working on a single-player Star Wars title that apparently ran into difficulty during production.
It seems that EA wasn’t happy with the direction with this game was taking, especially because it didn’t allow for the use of many popular monetization strategies – instead, the company is now aiming to create something like Destiny, but with Star Wars; a kind of online singleplayer/multiplayer hybrid experience that can be better mined for cash over a longer period of time as, yet again, players are encouraged to buy loot crates to progress faster.
It seems, with the cancellation of Visceral’s Star Wars title, that EA really does want to salt the earth with fans of the series. It’s also incredibly bizarre that the company is refusing to greenlight any of the many, many (many) different kinds of Star Wars games that could be produced.
In the history of Star Wars, there have been roleplaying games, flight simulators, racing games, shooters, strategy games, and many more, all set within this universe. EA, apparently, is only interested in releasing titles in a very narrow type of games, and is only interested if it’s guaranteed to keep milking players for more money over the next few years.
EA’s never been a particularly popular company (in fact it’s got awards that prove the exact opposite), but its current business plans regarding the Star Wars brand aren’t just greedy – they’re destructive.
The company is driving the Star Wars gaming brand into the ground, where at one point it was the highlight of the entire multifaceted franchise.
Oh well. At least, if EA completely wipes out all interest in Star Wars gaming, the movies will keep the property alive until Disney can find someone else to try actually making games about the series.
Heck, if they ever get the chance, Fallout: New Vegas and Pillars of Eternity creators Obsidian Entertainment have stated they’d be thrilled to make a small budget roleplaying game in the Star Wars universe. That kind of thing is exactly what would fix this problem.
In the meantime, EA’s greed has inexplicably meant that it’s making a lot less money than it would if it just greenlit a few smaller, simpler projects. Attempting to squeeze every possible cent out of its customers just means that nobody gets to have any interactive Star Wars fun.