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If you've been following any news around videogames over the past few weeks, you should be aware of the one story that's largely dominated the headlines: EA's monetization strategy for Star Wars Battlefront II is....aggressive. "Aggressive" in the sense that you're going to pay $60 for a game and then still have to deal with tons of microtransactions and power-boosting-for-cash and loot boxes and basically every Shitty Videogame Publisher Practice in the books.

Here's a pretty perfect example of how bad things are - a $60 AAA game has time-locked credits LIKE A FRIGGIN' MOBILE GAME:

Three individuals from DICE were tasked with walking into the lion's den and desperately trying to stick to the PR script handed to them about why all of the completely bonkers monetization implementations were actually fine...except this is DAYS after some similar attempts to control the ever-poisoning narrative against EA/Battlefront II became the most downvoted comment in Reddit history:

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Anyways, the poor suckers tried introducing themselves like it was just a normal, everyday AMA where the entire fandom hadn't already turned against them:

We would first like to thank the moderators of this subreddit and the passionate fanbase for allowing us to host an open dialogue around Star Wars Battlefront II. Your passion is inspiring, and our team hopes to provide as many answers as we can around your questions.

Joining us from our development team are the following:

  • John Wasilczyk (Executive Producer) - /u/WazDICE Introduction - Hi I'm John Wasilczyk, the executive producer for Battlefront 2. I started here at DICE a few months ago and it's been an adventure :) I've done a little bit of everything in the game industry over the last 15 years and I'm looking forward to growing the Battlefront community with all of you.
  • Dennis Brannvall (Associate Design Director) - /u/d_FireWall Introduction - Hey all, My name is Dennis and I work as Design Director for Battlefront II. I hope some of you still remember me from the first Battlefront where I was working as Lead Designer on the post launch part of that game. For this game, I focused mainly on the gameplay side of things - troopers, heroes, vehicles, game modes, guns, feel. I'm that strange guy that actually prefers the TV-shows over the movies in many ways (I loooove Clone Wars - Ahsoka lives!!) and I also play a lot of board games and miniature games such as X-wing, Imperial Assault and Star Wars Destiny. Hopefully I'm able to answer your questions in a good way!
  • Paul Keslin (Producer) - /u/TheVestalViking Introduction - Hi everyone, I'm Paul Keslin, one of the Multiplayer Producers over at DICE. My main responsibilities for the game revolved around the Troopers, Heroes, and some of our mounted vehicles (including the TaunTaun!). Additionally I collaborate closely with our partners at Lucasfilm to help bring the game together.

But really, when I say "walk into the lion's den," that's not a totally accurate metaphor - see, in this instance, the lions had already spent weeks being FURIOUS at the organization these three individuals represented, and only a few days prior they devoured another representative from that organization with ferociousness literally never before witnessed.

In short: this was OBVIOUSLY the worst idea possible. And they went in anyways.



Top (non-deleted) comment came from popular online gaming pundit Jim Sterling. You would be surprised to find out none of the three developers responded! Probably just didn't see it.

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Here's a small sample of the devs desperately attempting to answer questions and allay concerns about the game - which provides some pretty clear examples of why they avoided so many questions. RIP these guys' karma.

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If you're interested in some secondhand embarrassment and cringe, you can click here to read all the questions these people answered. Warning: literally every single one is downvoted into oblivion, doesn't come across as authentic or forthcoming, and will probably just piss you off further.

The best comment, by far, was this gem that occurred after one of the sub's mods posted a comment to explain why the mods were aggressively removing critical comments from an AMA (which stands for "Ask Me Anything", and generally doesn't have any kinds of censorship or restrictions on what is allowed):

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User arsonbunny summarized the entire problem with Battlefront II that EA/DICE has refused to acknowledge and address, and why this AMA was always doomed to be a failure:

The have essentially completely ignored the core ethical issue:

The entire game is created to be just a lure to get you into a virtual gambling Skinner Box.

Just like in the famous Skinner Box experiments, you can be manipulated into doing the digital equivalent of hitting a response lever by feeding money into the microtransaction store, exploiting human psychological quirks with positive and negative reinforcement tricks that built into the progression system. And the entire game was designed around this concept:

1.) Battlefront II exploits an automatic addiction response by using randomized rewards with its loot boxes.

Its well known within the field of psychology that the most effective form of positive feedback is unpredictable positive feedback. Back in the 1950s the behavioral psychologist B.F. Skinner discovered the addictive effectiveness of the "variable schedule of rewards" phenomenon. Skinner observed that lab mice trained to press a lever responded most voraciously to random rewards, and in the most compulsive manner. Casinos and other gambling establishments have known this for a while, and have created random reward schemes to exploit this.

This is exactly what Battlefront II does, turning it into a gambling proposition by putting the gameplay features people want behind a randomized reward lootbox scheme.

2) The game was designed to be tedious and to make progression not tied to skill, but how many lootboxes you get

It was worked out that a player would need to grind for 4,528 hours in order to unlock everything. The progression system is purposefully set to push people towards buying lootboxes as its not skill based: It doesn't truly matter if you get 1 kill or 50 kills, you're getting roughly the same low amount of credits. The scrap that you can collect is designed to be an impractical way to progress, as I would need to grind for 30 hours just to get 600 scrap gun. With each match earning only about 200-300 credits, it would take many hours to get one single Trooper Crate to roll the dice with the hopes of getting something worthwhile. Even worse there are limits in terms of how many credits one can get in Arcade mode per day. In other EA games like Battlefield, more experienced players can unlock a variety of weapons, items, and perks, but generally, they add gameplay styles, not mathematical advantages. But every single Star Card and every bump in a Star Card's tier only adds boosts to each class' default loadout, with only a few of these fairer "mathematically equivalent" unlockables. As if that wasn't enough, your ability to unlock two extra card slots in the game is based around reaching a certain card level, only achievable by obtaining more cards. Battlefront II seems adamant to disregard the value of players' time, demanding a huge amount of commitment for rewards that feel wholly insignificant for the investment required to earn them.

3) The game was designed to highlight the benefits of gambling on the loot box rewards.

With each death on the battlefield, players see which cards their opponent is using - a design choice that is meant to plant the idea within the gamer of how "I need to get those cards." The high level cards change the game so much that playing against them makes it hard to to level up, earn crates, and craft better gear. I was continually dominated by better geared players. The game goes out of its way to show you that players who bought better gear are the successful ones.

4) The game places arbitrary limits and complexity on progression in order to incentivize lootbox purchases

Rather than narrow all of this down to a single currency or unlock model, EA has already created this complex schism of multiple currencies and progressions and what each can and cannot do. For example you also have a card level, which is meant to limit your ability to craft high powered cards. But the card level is determined by the number of cards you have. I can't imagine any reason this was done but to confuse the casual player, and further steer them towards the easy solution of buying lootboxes.

This game is like a slot machine, except you don't win money. You win saving the time that you would otherwise need to grind.

None of this has been in any way addressed at all.