The Weekly Raid: Fairness & Player Expectations

The recent drama surrounding Star Wars Battlefront 2 has been one of the biggest gaming stories of the year, often leaking into the mainstream press and even into the financial news. As soon as that happened, Electronic Arts was quick to back peddle, removing micro-transactions from the game entirely.

Many across the gaming media shared in on the outrage, but those of us who have been covering free to play games, especially games developed in East Asia, were caught off guard by the scale of opposition. Micro transactions have been the norm for over a decade in our chosen niche, but clearly the broader world of 'AAA' gamers were taken aback by this move. There is of course one glaring difference between Battlefront 2 and any old f2p MMORPG, and that is the $60 price tag. How would gamers have responded if EA introduced Battlefront 2 as a free to play title? Are there differences in player attitudes towards perceived fairness depending on the price and platform of a game?

The consensus seems to be anything goes on mobile. The whales and minnows swim together freely. Free to play PC titles are in the middle ground. They all have microtransactions, but blatant pay-to-win cash grabs are less tolerated. At least in client games, browser games are a free for all. The push back seems to be with premium buy-to-play titles, especially multiplatform titles from major, 'triple-A' publishers.

There have been several writeups on this issue this week, here are a few I've selected for being particularly enlightening:

Further Reading: Loot boxes are not bad game design, says dev, Gamers are overreacting to EA's Star Wars controversey; publishers should raise prices: Analyst, Belgium says loot boxes are gambling

Lifelong gamer always looking for the next virtual adventure. I'm still waiting for the next big MMORPG. Until then, you can find me hopping between multiple games.