The most prominent controversy in gaming lately has been the inclusion of loot boxes and microtransactions in games. Several countries have looked into categorizing the purchasable crates that contain random items as gambling. In the US, the ESRB recently ruled that they are not gambling because the player still receives something of value from the purchase even if the item is a duplicate of little value to them.
Update (11/16): EA has announced that it's temporarily pulling microtransactions from Star Wars Battlefront II. The backlash against Battlefront II reached such magnitude that EA has been forced to take action and try to save face (and the game's future). "We hear you loud and clear, so we’re turning off all in-game purchases," wrote Oskar Gabrielson, GM of Battlefront II developer DICE, in a blog post. "We will now spend more time listening, adjusting, balancing and tuning. This means that the option to purchase crystals in the game is now offline, and all progression will be earned through gameplay. The ability to purchase crystals in-game will become available at a later date, only after we’ve made changes to the game. We’ll share more details as we work through this."
Game developers have been turning record profits using this device and it has become the bane of many gamers on numerous forums. Electronic Arts recently lowered the costs associated with earning or purchasing heroes in Battlefront 2 due to severe player backlash on Reddit.
Now one gamer has calculated and documented the costs for Star Wars Battlefront 2 both in the amount of time and money it takes to unlock the full game. According to Soeren Kamper on Star Wars Gaming, “It will take 4,528 hours of gameplay (or $2,100) to unlock all base-game content in Star Wars Battlefront 2.”
Kamper bases his calculations on averages and assumes the player already has all cards and that they are already leveled up to level 3. He then averaged the drop rates for crates and the upgrade costs for each class. “This estimate ignores the time required to get all cards to level 3, the time required to unlock all heroes, and daily crates,” he said.
He then broke down the costs associated with all seven classes (Troopers, Enforcers, Aerial, Armor, Speeder, Starfighters and Heroes). Out of all the categories, Heroes were not surprisingly the most expensive and time-consuming.
According to his calculations, there are 207 Hero cards, which would require 99,360 crafting parts to upgrade. To get that many part,one would have to open 1,988 loot crates. This would, in turn, require 2,892 hours of gameplay which is an average of 126 hours per hero. Keep in mind that top-tier heroes like Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker are 33 percent more expensive than the mid-tier and cost three times more than the low-tier even after EA lowered the costs by 75 percent.
Kamper claims that when all is said and done, it would take a player over 4,500 hours to unlock everything. Those who want to shortcut their way would end up spending more than $2,000 on the game.
Of course, not everyone necessarily wants to complete the game entirely. However, these calculations do shine a light on the actual value of the game from EA’s perspective. If it can get a small percentage of players to invest just a fraction of that money into the game, they rack huge profits.
The consensus in the gaming community is that developers are paywalling elements of the game just to squeeze the consumer for another buck — that $60 games cost much more than $60 if you want to enjoy the whole game. Players see it as price gouging at its most despicable level.