Lately it would seem that no videogame company is farther away from understanding their customers than EA. When the company was preparing to release Star Wars: Battlefront II, they made the decision to include microtransactions in the game. This was far from the first AAA title to do this, but it was certainly the most pervasive. Certain parts of the game required so much in-game currency that it would take over 4,500 hours of gameplay to unlock; that is unless you paid for it. That same currency would cost about $2,100 to achieve.
Needless to say, gamers were not happy about this move. Online petitions were signed, product boycotts were organized and overall outrage was at a new high. Because of the negative sentiment, EA agreed to make changes at launch, including shutting off the transaction system and lowering the progression difficulty, making it far easier to acquire currency by playing.
The company's announcement, however, did leave something to be desired. In this case, what was desired was a commitment that transactions were gone for good. Unfortunately, they left that door wide open for the future. By doing so, they still alienated a lot of players, who were not interested in buying the game only to have the progression system change back to its original, gamer-unfriendly ways.
Luckily, EA seems to have learned its lesson, announcing this week that a completely revamped progression system is coming in a few days that will eliminate the possibility of transactions in the future. In the announcement, the company said,
With this update, progression is now linear. Star Cards, or any other item impacting gameplay, will only be earned through gameplay and will not be available for purchase. Instead, you'll earn experience points for the classes, hero characters, and ships that you choose to play in multiplayer. If you earn enough experience points to gain a level for that unit, you'll receive one Skill Point that can be used to unlock or upgrade the eligible Star Card you'd like to equip.
More importantly, if you already have the game and have earned items that are beyond your level under the new system, you will still keep and be able to use those items. You will also no longer be able to impact your gameplay via crates, as those will only contain Credits and cosmetic items, but will not contain any Star Cards.
EA hopes that these changes will make those who avoided the game more likely to give it a try now. They are also promising future content, including new game modes, in the coming weeks, which should add value to the game as opposed to drive revenue through the game. Whether EA has actually learned its lesson as a whole or not is still to be determined, as future titles may try again.