Despite EA’s attempts at damage control, the firestorm surrounding Star Wars Battlefront II continues to rage. As has been widely reported, the ongoing controversy surrounding the game has attracted the scrutiny of several governments worldwide. Belgium is currently most notable for their loot box investigation, but Australia, France and even the state of Hawaii are getting in on the action as well. It seems that the power of the core gaming community has been underestimated by just about everyone, myself included. We’ve successfully knocked EA and the other supporters of the loot box gravy train off-balance. This fight is far from over, however. Gamers have taken the initiative here, but they must keep the pressure up if they want loot boxes to change for the better.
The first and most obvious thing we can all do is simply refuse to buy loot box-centric games. Many are already doing this with Star Wars: Battlefront II and it’s had an impact. It’s too early to tell how this will impact EA’s thinking in the future, but a missed sale is a missed sale. It’s $60 that they didn’t get and one less person that can’t be convinced to buy DLC or even manipulated into participating in an obnoxious microtransaction system. Missed sales are a big deal to any company; They absolutely don’t go unnoticed. The internet has been awash with gamers loudly declaring that they won’t buy and EA is now suffering an apparent dip in sales. It’s a connection that no one can ignore, not even the likes of EA.
Of course, boycotting products one is interested in is a difficult practice to keep up. Battlefront II is hardly the only game overusing loot boxes and EA is certainly not the only big publisher pushing them. There is a way to play such games without reinforcing the sleazy business practices behind them though. Just wait a little bit. Seriously. A game’s first two or three weeks on sale are the ones that receive the most attention and scrutiny from its makers. Buying after a month is still a sale in the game’s favor, but the damage will have already been done and the publishers will have already drawn their conclusions about the game’s performance. It’s not as powerful as a true boycott, but it still sends a message and doesn’t require one to completely deprive themselves. Other than that, we can and must keep the loot box conversation going.
It’s become rather typical of the gaming community to quickly forget about controversy. Just look at Middle Earth: Shadow of War. The game’s compromising its single-player experience with loot boxes was a big deal right up until about a week after its release. Now, nobody is talking about it anymore. We’ve let it go and moved on. We can’t let the same thing happen with Battlefront II and loot boxes. Continuing to talk about them is important. The gaming community must the one who determines what’s acceptable and what isn’t when it comes to loot boxes, not publishers. That can only be done by keeping the conversation going and by doing our best to bring in even the most casual of players. The hardcore crowd is the vocal minority of the wider gaming audience. In order to reach them, the topic of loot boxes must continue to be treated as important. The more people we can get talking about loot boxes, the better.
Thanks to the its reaction to Battlefront II, the gaming community has managed to make loot boxes a more widely-recognized issue. This success has managed to force EA into damage control and has invited government to take a serious look at what loot boxes are and how they’re implemented. It’s a win, but not a victory. If gamers truly want to see loot boxes changed or even done away with then we have to keep pushing. Through outright boycotting, waiting to buy or just continuing to talk we can keep the initiative in this struggle. Keeping the initiative means continuing to spread the message one way or another. If that message is seen and supported by enough people, then loot boxes will eventually cease to be a viable cash cow. It’s all just a matter of keeping up that pressure.