Imagine that your shiny, shrink-wrapped copy of Star Wars Battlefront 2 just arrived in the mail from Amazon. You pop it into your console of choice, waiting for updates to download as you fantasize about jumping into massive, dramatic battlefields drenched in the lime-green light of a thousand laser guns firing in concert.
Eventually, you start to play. Luke Skywalker. Leia. Darth Vader. The gang’s all here. But that’s when you see it: Nearly every beloved character from the Star Wars movies are locked, entirely unplayable despite you having shelled out $60 or more for the game.
Until Monday afternoon, the cost to unlock these heroes was astronomical.
Want to play as Luke? That originally would’ve cost you 60,000 in-game credits, which could take you about 40 hours of gameplay to earn, according to some early estimates. Want to wreak havoc as Vader? Yep, that was a separate 40 hour chunk you’d have to commit to earning in-game credits.
EA has since responded to the criticism and announced that it’s lowered the cost of unlocking characters by 75%. This change in pricing comes less than a day after outlets like Kotaku noted that EA’s initial response, in which it said the intent of the sky-high prices was “to provide players with a sense of pride and accomplishment for unlocking different heroes,” soon became the most downvoted comment in Reddit history. As of this writing, it has more than 452,000 downvotes.
Given the volume of downvotes, it’s possible that someone — or a group of people — have rigged bots to downvote the comment en masse. But still. Yikes.
Of course, having to unlock access to characters and fancy gear is nothing new in video games, but would-be Battlefront 2 fans are fed up with what they perceive as exploitative design decisions on the part of Electronic Arts, the game’s publisher.
EA has been fighting an uphill PR battle since the release of the 2015’s Star Wars Battlefront, which critics said felt like a hollow, empty shell of a game. In response to criticism about EA’s decision to lock new characters behind a series of paid expansions in Battlefront, EA announced the characters in Battlefront 2 would all be free. Battlefront 2, unlike its predecessor, will also have a full campaign mode. The crowd rejoiced. EA had seemingly learned from its mistake.
And now this.
The Battlefront fandom’s negative response wasn’t limited to Reddit downvotes, either. One person who identified themself as a developer at EA said on Twitter that he has been receiving death threats, and “over 1,600 individual personal attacks” as a result of this.
Battlefront 2, in all its microtransactional glory — now, with lower character unlock prices — will be available Nov. 17.