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.

  • Lets face it, gamers just don't want microtransactions in their games, free or otherwise. Mostly the ones that are pay2win like Starwars Battlefront 2 and many, many mobile games. Although, the ones that aren't pay2win just offer cosmetics via the loot boxes, but it looks like they aren't wanted either.

    Looks like its time for a change in business plans for generating income.

  • Augosyx

    Freemium games introduced lootboxes (or as it widely known as cash shops) just to compensate their game being free, and it's entirely up to the players' choice, though on the downside comes the infamous term "Pay-to-Win" which better items comes with better currency and this in turn upsets the balance of gameplay for those who don't pay for their games.

    Big companies like EA (or just any like WB with their Shadow of War, a single-player experience with lootbox, like wtf?!) just don't understand these terms or the concept they were supposed to portray. The games they publish aren't a free-to-play title and they just simply add more money over their USD60, USD70 up to USD100 AAA games, though EA has one-up by having 2 of their recent launches on microtransactions.

    Star Wars BFII, fine, it's done and gone for the time being, I may have said this on the other post but this decision came a day after Belgium hits the investigate button and EA boldly claim their game isn't a form of gambling; if they say they aren't, they wouldn't shut their microtransaction and left it as it is but lo and behold, they did. Coincidence? I don't think so. Need For Speed's recent entry Payback had a form of microtransaction, while not game-breaking but it broke the experience for the players to proceed, the in-game money was tough to collect, you'd need at least 1 car for each discipline, etc and only way to get quick in-game bucks is to buy with actual real money.

    Change the system. Don't just mindnumbingly think microtransactions are a good thing for a AAA game and only lasted till the next entry of the franchise.

    • I agree the double(b2p) /triple dipping (subscription) is a bit much, especially when they start selling game altering / core content stuff.

  • Heartyae

    I guess this isn't on this topic. BUT
    Class diversity. You guys mentioned it in the latest podcast. Balance matters.

    You can banter about it but, balanced games are popular right now. From League to FFXIV. You know what games are dying, Tree of savior. There are some wildly different classes in that, but it doesn't matter because their dog ish.
    Are we to say "F balance" in that case? I wouldn't. If Black desert was less balanced (like one class was just demolishing others in PvP, game wouldn't be as popular as it is now. If Black desert is any indication of class diversity/Balance - Then it's possible to have both. Same with Blade and Soul

    Balance matters a lot, but I think class diversity matters to. It also ties in to the whole role system (I like Holy Trinity) but I see a lot of games trying to shove hybrid roles into classes and it just ruins the game. FFXIV has some bit of class diversity. But... The customization is so bad. A Black mage switching off and on between fire/ice/flare is very difference playstyle than Scholar DoT management.

    TL;DR Balance matters, Doesn't have much to do with class diversity though.

  • Zariarn

    If the game is Free to play, Micro-transactions are a must. As long as the items aren't creating an unfair advantage over another player(primarily PVP games) I don't care if items are pay to advance in PVE games unless I can't advance unless I buy those items. I could care less about loot boxes. I've never bought one and I probably never will.

    Pay to play games shouldn't have any micro-transactions.

    I think Buy to play is dependant on the cost of the game and/or if they have a store that's no different than a F2P game.

  • Yea Right

    If loot boxes are to be a thing, they need a set of strict ground rules. Everyone says "If you don't want to waste your money then just don't buy them!" But lets be real, the majority of gamers are addictive personalities. You wouldn't come back to the same game day in and day out to chase after virtual bullshit if this wasn't the case, so lets not kid ourselves that these things don't hold appeal to the majority. They literally make so much money that anyone trying to arguing my point is doing nothing more than showing their naivety to the situation.

    Lets take Call of Duty as a big offender, since in my experience they became ultra greedy with it (I played Advanced Warfare and Black Ops 3 which were the big Loot Box games). In Call of Duty they started putting out weapon variants that you got via Loot Boxes. These guns were the best in the game, they would give you an advantage in the match. The problem would come when the developer would add MORE items to the loot table. Thus dropping your percent chance of getting the item you wanted, because now not only do you have to sift through duplicates of items you've already acquired (yes they have duplicates) but you also now have hundreds of new items that are lowering your percent chance of getting that ONE thing you want. This is a bogus system, because your at the mercy of what EA deems fair.

    I'd say China had the right idea by making it a rule that you have to show the odds of winning things. If I read that I only had a .5% chance of getting something, I'd never buy a loot box. But if it said I had a 35% chance I might consider it.