“It had better not be!” Is what gamers have been saying recently.
EA has been the cause of some controversy this year largely because of Star Wars Battlefront 2’s progression system. For those that don’t know the system is that you use in game currency to buy randomised boxes of in game items that your profile uses which in concept is fine and I think a good idea. The problem with it and the bit that I see as a bad thing is that the in game currency can be bought with real money, earning in game currency takes longer than just buying so people will spend real money just because the option is there.
EA Sports has for a while had a similar thing in the Fifa games which people were fine with because it was a multiplayer thing and the rest of the game didn’t depend on it. This style of purchase reminds me of Yugioh cards which I would regularly buy when I was younger. I didn’t know what was in the card packs so was basically putting money on a chance outcome. The EA Sports Fifa method gained money for EA so out of greed they tried it in a First Person Shooter style of game which hasn’t worked very well for them. It led EA to be accused of putting gambling in games (many laws say they didn’t but what they have done is harmful in the same way).
I’m not writing to criticise EA for Battlefront 2 because there is plenty on the internet doing that already. What I’m going to do is write what I believe EA should have done for PR after they had been criticised.
The thing that EA did was basically start acting like a small child screaming that they’d done nothing wrong but because of public outcry investigations into lootboxes – which people would spend money on for random items – started in many different countries and Disney (owner of Star Wars) had to tell EA to back down which they did.
I think that EA should have just said that what they were doing wasn’t gambling but may have been psychologically harmful to young and vulnerable people, then they should have recalled all unsold copies of Battlefront 2. This would have helped EA because they could have pointed out that other companies such as rival Activision were doing the same thing with psychologically harmful supply crates (Call of Duty’s lootboxes), then instead of EA being seen as evil and greedy they would have been the great revealers of an industry wide problem which would have helped their PR.
They did something bad but wouldn’t own up to it, things may be different if they had.