By Andrew De Haro
The recent release of Star Wars Battlefront 2 has left people to hate on the game and company EA. You’ve heard the news: after a widespread fan backlash over pay-to-win elements in Star Wars Battlefront 2 and what feels like a little push from Disney, EA and DICE are scrambling. In an unprecedented move, the developer and publisher went as far as to disable all in-game purchases just hours before the game launched.
If you want to spend some money to get an edge on your opponents, look no further than the $79.99 Elite Trooper Deluxe Edition, which comes in at a $20 premium over the standard edition. It comes with a suite of epic cards for all of your troopers, offering you powerful combat bonuses right out of the box that would normally take hours to grind for. You also get ability upgrades for Rey and Ren. According to this official description, buying a more expensive version of the game gives you “superior firepower.” If that isn’t pay-to-win, then I don’t know what is.
The essential problem here was never really that Star Wars Battlefront 2 offered micro-transactions. The essential problem is that multiplayer in this game is defined by a convoluted and unbalanced progression system, and micro-transactions are only one piece of that puzzle. So even if there weren’t any pay-to-win mechanics at all, the game would still be crippled by the ill-conceived Star Card system and new players would find themselves at a severe disadvantage. And as this shows, there are still pay-to-win mechanics anyway.
It’s why removing the ability to buy crystals just doesn’t come close to fixing progression in the game. Not only do the players that paid money for their upgrades still have their upgrades, the players that grind for their upgrades will still be able to blast new players to oblivion, and the fact that they earned their Star Cards through game play doesn’t make that any more fun. Add that to the fact that we still have the bonuses from special retail editions and fixing progression in this game starts to look like a Sisyphean task.