Blizzard’s Jab at Pay to Win Mechanics

If you’ve been keeping tabs on the lead in to Star Wars Battlefront 2’s official release then you know that it’s been subject to unadulterated blow back from the internet.

After many learned of Battlefront 2’s inane progression system and pay to win mechanics, players took to reddit and other communities voicing passionate and often times verbose comments as to how and why the current systems in place need to change.

Said passion is almost palpable as of now with an official EA comment on the official subreddit for the game receiving the award for the most downvoted comment in reddit history.

Adding fuel to mockery infused fire, Blizzard released a series of cheeky tweets directed at games that implement pay to win systems earlier today. This was followed by a full on advertisement for Starcraft 2 becoming free to play which also made light of the current pay to win debacle.

All Ominous Blizzard

Here are some of the tweets that Blizzard released earlier today:

And the StarCraft 2 ad announcing its free to play status while retaining a play to win status:

We’re all for this sort of playful jab by Blizzard because the current systems in place with Battlefront 2 are downright disrespectful to the player.

Yes, Blizzard is a bit of a hypocrite because Overwatch does employ what can only be called a playful form of gambling in the way of cosmetic loot boxes.

But when loot boxes are taken to the point of being game changing and a system is put in place to create a progression environment that is unfriendly to players who play without spending additional money, a line has been crossed.

Gaming corporations are attempting to squeeze players for all they are worth, edging closer and closer towards a breaking point.

One could argue that this point has already been reached but the most egregious is what companies like EA are trying to accomplish by literally stunting the player’s experience in order to accomplish a greater amount of revenue.

Much like the initial Xbox One unveiling, this situation can absolutely be changed by players through channeling dissenting opinions online. And we do hope that EA listens not only in regards to Battlefront 2 but also upcoming titles such as Anthem and the next Battlefield entry.

Respawn Acquisition – The Road Ahead

Yesterday it was announced that Respawn Entertainment, the developer behind the mech laden Titanfall franchise, will be acquired by EA for as much as $455 million.

It’s not an entire shock to the senses as Titanfall 2 reportedly did not meet sales expectations. While critically praised by large media outlets such as IGN and Gamespot, Titanfall 2 was heavily marked down in price just a few short months after release.

And so the Titanfall franchise with soon join the likes of EA owned FPS behemoths like Battlefield and Battlefront. This triple threat is certainly great for the publishing giant but what will it mean for Respawn exactly?

Permadeath Mode

The biggest and most pertinent issue of this buy out is the potential for Respawn to be eviscerated at a later date. Vince Zampella, CEO of Respawn Entertainment, posted a letter to the public yesterday stating that the future is bright and that there are swaths of future potential at the hands of newfound resources.

But this is hardly reassuring as at least 12 studios have been run into the ground and subsequently shut down by EA some time after acquisition. Kotaku has a handy list of 11 studios shut down and with the recent news of Visceral Games that’s another added to the pile of studios sullied and squandered in the name of EA’s overall market trajectory.

Studios shut down by Electronic Arts include:

  • Visceral Games
  • Maxis
  • Pandemic
  • Phenomic
  • Westwood
  • Black Box Games
  • PlayFish
  • NuFX
  • Mythic
  • Origin
  • Bullfrog
  • Dreamworks Interactive

It’s no surprise that the internet has taken to a bit of a freak out concerning the acquisition. The potential for yet another close is certainly there and it isn’t as though it hasn’t happened in the past. Electronic Arts has been around this block at least a dozen times.

And the alternative to this grim path isn’t much brighter. EA as a studio generates massive amounts of money via microtransactions. Yes, Titanfall 2 already featured a fair amount of these.

But the implementation of said microtransactions were generally fair, unobtrusive, and were not predatory. In essence, it was in total defiance of the loot box craze while still delivering regular free content updates such as maps and modes.

I cannot be so sure that Titanfall 3 will continue this same trend. If you’ve been keeping tabs on Battlefront 2 then you know that it not only features loot boxes, but loot boxes that actually influence the game.

This is Star Wars we’re talking about. It isn’t as though this is a franchise that needs bolstering when it comes to revenue. And yet, it is now included with veracity in the second installment.

So what will become of Titanfall 3 within the context of microtransaction implementation? The second installment is already known to have under performed.

And with the death grip soon to take effect, what’s to stop EA from nudging Respawn’s mechanics and systems in such a way that allows for maximum revenue per user.

Would this be inevitable without yesterday’s acquisition? Perhaps. It’s just that now there is absolutely no doubt that EA will do what it can to influence future productions to meet projections.

There is always the possibility of a middle ground or maybe even bright and ever lasting sunny days. It’s just hard to meet this alignment when past and present paint a much more sinister picture.