Electronic Arts will make changes to its upcoming action game Star Wars Battlefront II following a backlash over how it incentivizes players to unlock key content within the game.
One of the features of Battlefront II, launching November 17 for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, is an in-game economy where players can earn credits to unlock items in the game. Items range from gear to playable characters including Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader.
In a statement posted on EA's website, John Wasilczyk, executive producer at studio DICE, said the company will reduce the number of credits required to unlock those classic saga heroes by 75%.
"Listening, and providing choices in how you play, will always be our principle with Star Wars Battlefront II," said Wasilczyk in a statement. "We want to ensure the game is balanced and fun both today and for years into the future."
Star Wars Battlefront II features a single-person campaign taking place after the events of the film Return of the Jedi. The online multiplayer mode allows players to battle as soldiers for either the rebels or empire, earning perks such as better weapons or boosts.
The statement follows a response from EA to a Reddit thread criticizing the cost for unlocking heroes. EA initially defended the decision, claiming it gives players "a sense of pride and accomplishment for unlocking different heroes." The comment has been down-voted on Reddit more than 660,000 times — a sign that online fans of the game were upset about the development.
The in-game economy in Battlefront II leans on loot crates, special boxes players open up during the game to find random rewards ranging from Star Cards to boost your character or special equipment. Rewards vary between common and very rare items.
Many players have raised concerns the economy was geared toward a "pay to play" dynamic, where players who spend money can gain a greater advantage by more quickly gaining access to better weapons and perks.
The invasion of loot boxes into console games is part of a larger trend turning more games like Battlefront II into services keeping their audiences engaged longer — and helping game publishers maximize return on costly game development budgets.
Most of the top console games including shooters Destiny 2 and Overwatch feature items or loot boxes players purchase for a smaller price.
The inclusion of microtransactions means big money for video game publishers seeking to get more from each title. In the case of EA, the publisher reported more than $3 billion in digital net sales for the 2017 fiscal year, up 20% from last year, and representing 61% of total revenue.
Follow Brett Molina on Twitter: @brettmolina23.