Meanwhile Belgium investigates ‘Loot-Boxes’ gambling.
After an unprecedented gamer revolt, games publisher EA, has been forced to temporarily remove in game micro-transactions from the just released Star Wars Battlefront II.
Writing in a bog post, Oskar Gabrielson, the General Manager of Battlefront II developer DICE, said: “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 game play. The ability to purchase crystals in-game will become available at a later date, only after we’ve made changes to the game. We’ll share more details as we work through this.”
EA had initially responded by reducing the number of ‘crystals’ required to unlock in-game upgrades by 75%, but in a widely criticised move, also reduced the amount earned by playing campaigns.
While the about face by EA has been widely seen as a victory for gamers everywhere against against unfair monopolistic profiteering practices, the war may still be far from over, and many are still skeptical: As the BBC reported in their take on the story: “According to their statement, EA is disabling in-game purchases only temporarily. In other words, they’re waiting for the Reddit hive mind to get mad about something else and three weeks later they’ll put it back to how it was,” suggested one gamer.”
The removal of the game’s micro-transactions comes just hours before Battlefront II was due to launch worldwide, on November 17.
The Belgians are still coming
In the same week that EA endured one of the worst PR catastrophe’s of all time, news also emerged, that Battlefront II was being investigated by the Belgian Gaming Commission over fears of in-game gambling.
The commission has opened an investigation into both Battlefront II and another game, Overwatch, to examine whether ‘loot-boxes’ within both games constitute a form of gambling. Since add-on boxes that have to be purchased before you can see what’s inside might constitute gambling. As Commission chairman Peter Naessens points out, random loot boxes are a game of chance.
If the commission does find that loot-box content is indeed gambling, EA and other game publishers and developers could find themselves facing fines running into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and could find the case suddenly at the centre of a European Union wide investigation that could cost them millions.