Star Wars: Battlefront II changes its loot box plans… but is it enough? – Ars Technica


Ahead of Star Wars: Battlefront II‘s launch in a few weeks, its publisher EA posted an announcement on Tuesday. “We’ve listened to your feedback,” the post begins, and the rest of the update about this online multiplayer game focuses on one issue revealed during the game’s October beta test: loot boxes.

“The beta gave us a welcome chance to test all of our systems in action and tune things up for better balance,” the post states. “A few weeks back, we mentioned we were going to take another look at how the progression system works.”

The resulting changes and tweaks, on their face, look like a positive step away from the most poisonous aspects of loot boxes, particularly in paid retail games. But what do the changes really mean for the game, and has EA undone enough loot-box damage with this announcement?

Altered the deal further

Over the past month, I’ve written at length about the rapid loot boxening of the games industry, a practice that has admittedly been part of PC and mobile games far longer than this year. The practice bakes a random-item giveaway gimmick into video games. You can earn these random in-game items through normal gameplay, but more often than not, games intentionally make this a slow grind that—wouldn’tcha know—can be sped up with a flash of real-world cash.

This is already an obnoxious practice when it comes to “non-essential” items like outfits, “graffiti tags,” and other “non-gameplay” accoutrements, especially since this turns a slot machine-like endorphin hit into a default gameplay incentive. But 2017 saw publishers take the troubling step of attaching hard gameplay modifiers to loot boxes. Forza Motorsport 7 and Middle-earth: Shadow of War both tied gameplay-changing elements to the randomly generated contents of their loot boxes, meaning in certain cases, you could only play parts of the game a certain way if you lucked into the right thing inside a loot box (or could, you know, keep buying loot boxes until you got that right modifier or soldier).

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