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Published on December 3rd, 2017 | by gareth


Why Does Activision Get A Pass For Micro-Transactions In Call Of Duty While EA Gets Roasted For Having Them In EA Star Wars Battlefront 2

It has been no secret that EA Star Wars Battlefront II has had its share of issues and detractors. The biggest of which is the use of Micro-transactions as a main component of the game. For those not willing or able to play excessive hours of the game to unlock power up cards which gives players all sorts of new weapons and abilities as well as access to other hero characters.

The fallout was severe and as a result, EA disabled the controversial practice of buying crystals at launch but reaction to the game has not been what has been anticipated and neither have the sales.

This morning I was playing Call of Duty: WW2 which I have enjoyed since the game launched. I have been spending more time in the Headquarters and this morning I went over to the store to browse what was available to buy and selected Jumping Jacks as my purchase. The game gives you 100 COD points as Payroll and players can earn more through various actions in game. However, players may also buy more COD points using real currency and I noted that 200 points could be purchased for $1.99.

This leads me to my question, why did EA Star Wars Battlefront 2 take such a beating from gamers and the press over their inclusion of Micro-transactions and Call of Duty: WW2 gets a pass.

For me it comes down to competitive balance and fairness. In Call of Duty, the items you can buy are for the most part cosmetic or stylistic and do not tip the competitive balance too far. If you want to have a certain emote, look, or gun that is fine. Save up your money, and if you have to have it now, you can purchase it. You may not be able to use it until you get to a certain level and may find it does not really do much to alter and improve your gameplay. You also get free crates which give you the chance to obtain items without having to use in game or real life cash.

For EA Star Wars Battlefront 2, the perception is that the transactions could be used to tip the competitive balance. Being able to purchase and equip Star Cards which can increase the amount of damage a player can unleash or take does indeed change the balance of the game as would being able to access certain characters, vehicles, and abilities for both ahead of players who would have to rely on level grinding and random luck versus financial transactions in order to obtain them.

The other factor is reputation. EA has a bad reputation amongst gamers. They have often been voted the worst company in fan polls and you can see a long list of issues ranging from buggy launches to less than stellar customer service for gamers who have voiced displeasure with games that did not work as promised at launch.

This has caused EA to have a severe lack of trust with the gaming public so as a result the inclusion of such blatant Micro-transactions in EA Star Wars Battlefront II as well as the upcoming UFC 3 and other games has caused fans to revolt in a way that they would not do so with other companies. As such Activision gets a much bigger pass for such transaction in Call of Duty: WW2 as they are not seen as so blatant nor a game changer.

The issue of paid in game content is not going away as it seems to be a staple of the industry, but the perception of having them as Pay to win versus in game enhancements is a big issue and one that is not going to go away anytime soon. It will be interesting to see how publishers address this issue going forward as I for one would love to see the focus put back on the games versus the internal business aspects.


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About the Author

Syndicated movie & game critic, writer, author and frequent radio guest. His work has appeared in over 60 publications worldwide and he is the creator of the rising entertainment site and publication “Skewed and Reviewed”. He has three books of film, game reviews and interviews published and is a well-received and in demand speaker on the convention circuit. Gareth has appeared in movies and is a regular guest on a top-rated Seattle morning show. He has also appeared briefly in films such as “Prefountaine”, “Postal”. “Far Cry”. and others. Gareth is also an in-demand speaker at several conventions and has conducted popular panels for over two decades.

15 Responses to Why Does Activision Get A Pass For Micro-Transactions In Call Of Duty While EA Gets Roasted For Having Them In EA Star Wars Battlefront 2

  1. hvd iv says:

    why did shadow of war get a pass while you are at it.

  2. Cer Can says:

    who is giving activision a pass? not me! my combined expenses on 2017 activision/ea games is $15 on mass effect andromeda. it is my understanding a great many people who bought and played destiny, like me, did not buy into round 2. so no pass given here!

    i also did not give shadow of war a pass, mordor was awful, if i hadn’t platinumed it i would remove it from my trophies. monolith ever wants my money again they are going to have to step outside the middle earth orc gimmick and make something new or revisit criminal origins and fear ip’s.

    • gareth says:

      I do not see outrage on COD having them all over the net but EA is getting flamed all over and has been for weeks.

  3. Cer Can says:

    ea picked this fight though.

    this isn’t just about micro transactions,ea has a long history of upending a games formula then killing the ip and franchise and studio and blaming consumers. this has been one of those years where ea has manipulated consumers for profit, abandoned them and blamed them.

    ea also likes to send out emails that seem disconnected with reality like celebrating tens years of mass effect after they abandoned andromeda, and closed bioware montreal, leaving consumers with a unfinished game that sucks. the book deal announcement to finish the story is like salt in the wound.

    they announce the closure of visceral games and the cancellation of their star wars game just before launching battlefront II telling everyone gamers just don’t like linear games anymore. great timing!

    dice has veered so far away from what made bad company 2 so much fun to play… the real problem with battlefront II was the math and progression systems. the inordinate amount of time required to unlock compounded by the randomness of unlocks and the calculated design to exploit people’s time and money to advance has turned off many.

    it seems tone deaf to make all these decision and when consumers say hey wait a minute ea then brags about gamers spending as much as $15,000 on card packs.

    activision however seems to have a better read on their base delivering ww2 themed cod when the market needed it and wanted it. i think the core call of duty players so long as the basic formula doesn’t change to much they’re happy to just play their game.

    that’s just my take,

    • gareth says:

      Thank you. That was a very detailed and informative take. I have been pondering the question today of what if COD and BF2 swapped their transaction systems; would EA have the same reaction. I think as you pointed out so well they not only have a bad reputation but seem to make one p.r. blunder after another. I do wonder what the long-term will be as in some ways they have a head in the Sand approach. They have always been active about wanting to be in our Holiday Gift Guides and this year they were very quiet. The only thing we have really heard from their p.r. firm of late is the launch of the UFC 3 Beta so it’s almost like they are waiting for things to calm down, make it to the Holiday break and New Year and look at where things are an roll out a new strategy. That would be wise but it seems like the plan is to play up the Last Jedi content and do business as usual. If the stock drop continues they will be forced to change.

  4. fred says:

    sounds like the guy who wrote this knows nothing about video games. let me try to make this as concise as possible. cods microtransactions don’t put anybody at an advantage. its not pay to win. the guy who spends 1000 dollars on cod lootboxes will have a nicer shinier gun, a better costume, emblems and calling card and will get owned by me armed with a gun they gave me day 1

    • gareth says:

      I worked in the industry for two major companies and have covered it for over twenty years. If you read the comments the issue with the proposed transactions EA had in mind is that they would indeed give players and advantage as they could access weapons, abilities, and more that would not be available to other players without hundreds of hours of gaming. That is an advantage no matter how you look at it. They had one of the most aggressive and blatant plans in place for them in BF2.

  5. Barry Harden says:

    They shouldn’t get a pass.

    Till this day the weapons in Black Ops 3 is still LOCKED away in supply drops.

  6. ian upthagrove says:

    Common sense here. It’s because in Call of Duty the MT’s don’t hurt the gameplay or progression. Very different. you can level up without any issue and play the game exactly the way its meant to be played without any issue. BF2 was purposely limiting the experienced gained and making it a total pain in the ass to move up and increase your equipment. MT’s aren’t the problem it’s basically turning the game into a freemium experience after having paid $60 for it.

  7. andrewsqual says:

    But there are no microtransactions in Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, the only game I have bought off Activision in the last 10 years, so I’m good thanks.

    In all seriousness though, that BLEW my mind when I saw that Activision logo come up at the start of that game. I was like, damn, its been a long time since I’ve seen that lol.

  8. Caleb Imrie says:

    Gamers are dumb. They follow trends, they don’t simply do the right thing. They’re all sheep that need to be told what to do and right now what to do is hate EA, get the government involved in our games for some dumb reason, and of course forget about everyone else over petty differences. Gamers are some of the dumbest people on Earth. Industry been sitting in a fiscal and creative crash since 2011 (regardless of what quality of games you think has come out, we still get far less games yearly, on average) and they still can’t point the right fingers at the right people. Why does this suprise anyone? You couldn’t finish GG without being outsmarted by moron feminisits. Now you’re trying to get government involved by “regulating” crap. You wanted to fix it? Don’t buy it. EA isn’t listening to you idiots online, nobody does. It’s why they don’t pay attention to it. SWBF2 selling like shit on the other hand would make stockholders pissed.

    Vote with your wallets, gamers. Swear off AAA games for a few years and play any number of HUNDREDS of perfect games you’ve missed from the past. Let the industry unscrew itself and then come back to buy stuff.

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