Sabrina White, Editor-in-Chief
Recently, Electronic Arts (EA), a popular video game company and developer of titles such as “Star Wars: Battlefront,” the “Battlefield” series, and “The Sims” franchise has come to hold the record for the most downvoted comment on popular social media website Reddit. The comment comes as a response to a disgruntled consumer and Redditor, following the current wave of upset caused by the increasing number of microtransactions present in the gaming industry today.
Microtransactions have been a heated topic of debate in the gaming industry, with large companies like EA receiving complaints that the companies are overcharging for unfinished content, and stealing from consumers through unnecessary paywalls. Similar reactions on a smaller scale happened with games like “Team Fortress 2”, a free-to-play game that introduced microtransactions for things like weapon upgrades, skins, character outfits and accessories, and other unique items. These free-to-play games are often referred to as “freemium” when they include microtransactions. Those who criticize the microtransaction system in free-to-play games nicknamed them “pay-to-win” games.
The comment on Reddit has garnered 676,000 downvotes as of the publication of this article. The previous downvote record was held at around 24,000 downvotes. It is apparent that the gaming community and consumers alike are very frustrated with the response. The comment was posted on a thread in the subreddit /r/starwarsbattlefront. The thread was headlined with “Seriously? I paid $80 to have Vader locked?” posted by user MMBMaverick.
The EA community team responded to his thread with the following comment: “The intent is to provide players with a sense of pride and accomplishment for unlocking different heroes. As for cost, we selected initial values based upon data from the Open Beta and other adjustments made to milestone rewards before launch. Among other things, we’re looking at average per-player credit earn rates on a daily basis, and we’ll be making constant adjustments to ensure that players have challenges that are compelling, rewarding, and of course attainable via gameplay. We appreciate the candid feedback, and the passion the community has put forth around the current topics here on Reddit, our forums and across numerous social media outlets. Our team will continue to make changes and monitor community feedback and update everyone as soon and as often as we can.”
Most, if not all, of the replies to EA’s comment were negative. User bookem_danno replied “That’s rich. Just be honest. The truth is you know very few people are going to sink a full work week into this game and you’re hoping that somebody is desperate enough to buy credits to unlock the character. It has nothing to do with providing a ‘sense of pride and accomplishment.’ This is a flat-out lie and you know it. How naive do you think your player base is?”
Many comments echoed the same sentiments, arguing that EA was just another greedy company. Reddit itself has been flooded with posts, comments, imagery, and other content regarding EA and the microtransaction backlash since the initial posting of EA’s comment. The backlash has also spread across the internet, prompting many consumers to request a refund or cancellation of their orders of “Star Wars: Battlefront II.” EA removed the refund buttons from their page, forcing customers to call in and wait in overloaded call lines to receive a refund.
Robert Bone, sophomore mechanical engineering major, offered his thoughts on microtransactions in the gaming industry. “Microtransactions start off good, and end terrible. “Counter Strike: Global Offensive” is one of the only games that I still enjoy that has microtransactions. In “World of Tanks” it helps you progress, but it is not game breaking.”
When asked about EA’s comment, Bone stated “you shouldn’t have to pay for a game after you’ve already bought the game. It’s the same thing with zombies in “Call of Duty,” you can’t complete the game until you buy the DLC (downloadable content). Its 60 dollars for the base game which comes with 10 maps, and 40 dollars for the DLC, where you get 18 maps. You can’t just buy the DLC and play it because it requires the base game. They’re abusing their power, and ripping off loyal consumers.”
In general, prices of video games have been steadily rising. This has also caused some upset among the gaming community, as many feel they are being overcharged for games that are not always complete on release. This is just the most recent backlash that developers have received regarding pricing and in-game transactions, and its likely not to be the last.