Battlefront 2 was a highly anticipated shooter in the Star Wars universe of 2017. Publisher EA relied on a progression system based on loot boxes. This could already be tested in the beta and led to one of the biggest shitstorms in gaming. Loot boxes were almost finished after that.
What happened? In the 2010s, loot boxes were an integral part of gaming. Many games use the little surprise bags to sell new cosmetics. But there were also many games that incorporated loot boxes into their progression systems.
Loot boxes are still popular today – with players and developers. Which is also shown by the continued success of the “Ultimate Team” mode in FIFA. But it could have been a lot worse.
Because if loot boxes are part of the progression system, then there are only a few steps left to Pay2Win. And no game is more synonymous with loot box rip-offs than Battlefront 2.
Battlefront 2 looked really good back then and fulfilled many of the gameplay wishes of the players. But loot boxes almost ruined that. Here is a gameplay trailer:
40 hours of gameplay to unlock heroes in full price game
How did the loot boxes work in BF2? The shitstorm began with the release of the Battlefront 2 beta. Here they wanted to test the mechanics.
It turned out that the loot boxes could be used to obtain weapon and skill upgrades in the game. In addition, the boxes could be purchased with premium currency. Pay2Win was thus confirmed. Because if you buy more boxes, you have better stuff right away.
After release it got worse before it got better. Although the microtransactions were deleted, there was only progress via loot boxes. In the time shortly after the release, luck alone decided who got the best equipment.
Although you could buy the great heroes of the universe with credits that you earn in the game. But players calculated that it took 40 hours of play for Luke Skywalker alone to scrape together enough credits. For all heroes it was 170 hours (via computerbase.de).
So you bought a full price Star Wars game and you couldn’t even play Darth Vader in conquest mode.
They want to “give players a sense of pride & achievement”
What did EA say about this? One appeased at all corners. Blake Jorgensen, then-CFO, said that lootbox systems can help improve the overall gaming experience – if done “right”.
However, it really took off on Reddit. To date, a statement from the EA Community Team holds the record for the most downvoted post on the discussion board: 667,642 (via reddit.com).
The debate about the loot boxes in Battlefront 2 was already in full swing at the time. Players wanted clear announcements, but only got attempts at explanations and excuses – they would keep an eye on the data and adjust accordingly, it said on Reddit.
The first sentence of the record post should have already triggered many players: “The intention is to give players a sense of pride and accomplishment when they unlock different heroes” (via reddit.com).
Rarely has a sentence stood for how far some publishers/developers had strayed from the player base. You didn’t want to unlock the heroes. You wanted to play them. Especially since you had to be lucky in the match to be able to select the desired heroes at all.
After all: The Pay2Win was completely canceled
How did it go after the adjustments? The compromise was okay in the end, even if the loot boxes didn’t disappear completely. Pay2Win no longer existed, the better versions of the class abilities were unlocked via the level of the class.
The heroes still had to be unlocked, but this required fewer credits and also gave you more credits for playing. The time reduced to around 10 hours for one of the expensive 15,000 heroes and around 40 hours of gameplay for all heroes.
Only Call of Duty tried again: but failed
Why did BF2 end the era of loot boxes? The shitstorm around the loot boxes in Battlefront 2 was enormous. It showed the influence of the communities on the formation of opinions around a game.
After the Battlefront number, publishers/developers for major PC and console games thought twice about bringing loot boxes as part of the progression systems in a game.
However, there was one big game after Battlefront 2 that didn’t learn that lesson: Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. The shooter fell far short of expectations in 2018 and was packed with annoying random mechanics. Only after the end of the life cycle did this change with an update.
In BO4 you had to unlock a weapon via loot boxes in order to be able to use it. However, the best cosmetics could not be used with the normal weapon. You then needed a special version of the weapon in order to be able to use the unlocked skin at all. Of course, you only got this special version with super-small probabilities via loot boxes.
Call of Duty has long relied on loot boxes, so-called supply drops, and was one of the leading providers, if you will. With Modern Warfare 2019 you rely on premium bundles with fixed content, loot boxes disappeared completely. And success came back.
Looking back, I would like to agree with EA’s CFO at the time. Loot boxes can be fun and rewarding when used properly. However, the industry gambled away a lot of trust at the time because it pushed the limits – “How much money can you make with it?”.
This is still taking revenge today, because new technologies suffer from the fact that at the time people absolutely wanted to make maximum profit. With Battlefront 2 in mind, skepticism about NFTs and blockchain in gaming is totally understandable.
Leave your opinion about loot boxes and write a comment on the topic. Did you also think that Battlefront 2 was an awesome game that was ruined a bit by the loot boxes?