Electronic Arts can not return microtransactions to Star Wars Battlefront II, said the financial director of Electronic Arts at an investor meeting earlier this week. This is the first time that EA publicly recognizes that the controversial money-making system can not return to the Star Wars game.
Also on Tuesday, one of the representatives of the Hawaiian state investigating the use of EA microtransactions in the game launched a video asking viewers to write their local politicians about the practice. State representatives Chris Lee and Sean Quinlan told viewers about the process of creating a bill that would ban booties for people under 21.
While the specter of government intervention in video games continues to threaten the independence of the gaming industry from government oversight, major publishers and industry organizations remain relatively calm about any form of self-regulation with respect to to the use of microtransactions in video games. That could be partly because microtransactions represent such a large portion of the videogame industry's revenues. The Superdata analysis group estimates that transactions related to free PC games accounted for $ 19 billion of industry revenues in 2016, while traditional PC sales and console games alone accounted for $ 8 billion.
Electronic Arts found itself at the heart of the controversy earlier this year when it released a beta version of Star Wars Battlefront II that contained what players believed was too aggressive use of microtransactions.
While the game is sold as a full-price retail title, it was originally established that it had a microtransaction system that asked players to invest time or extra money to unlock playable heroes. The protest, which resulted in the most negative comment (by EA) in the history of Reddit, led the company to temporarily withdraw the microtransaction system on the eve of the game's launch. It also led to comments from both LucasFilm and Disney, apparently condemning EA's approach to microtransactions in the game.
At that time, EA said that microtransactions would be available at a later date, only after we have made changes to the game. "
But speaking at the 37th Nasdaq Investors Conference on Tuesday, EA CFO Blake Jorgensen noted that microtransactions might not return to the game when asked how the company is dealing with the reaction.
" Clearly we are very focused on listening to the consumer and understanding what the consumer wants and that is constantly evolving, "he says." But we are working to improve the progression system. We deactivate the MTX as an opportunity to work on the progression system within the game. We keep doing it I think there's an update this week and next next.
"In overtime we will deal with how we want to take the MTX to the game or not and in what way we will decide to include it".
Meanwhile, in Hawaii, the video released by Rep. Chris Lee offered some ideas on legislators' thinking there when it comes to microtransactions, which in the video is referred to as predatory game practices.
Lee notes that in working to draft a bill they also try to pave the way for legislators in other states to draft their own bills on the issue. Lee notes that his office has been receiving calls from politicians across the country, specifically pointing to a Missouri state representative asking about the law.
He also mentions the patent filed by Activision, a Unwrapped by Glixel, earlier this year for a system that seemed designed to modify the gameplay and the way players paired to try to make people spend more money on those articles. Later, Activision said the technology is not used in any current game, but raised some legitimate questions about how far a developer and publisher will get more benefits from a released game.
Lee says the first step is limiting predatory microtransactions and he hopes that is enough for the gaming industry to change the way he earns money. He also asked viewers to start a grassroots movement to approach politicians in their areas on the subject. Lee even created a template "predatory game card" that can be customized and sent to politicians.
In the letter, Lee draws a straight line between spoils and games of chance, noting that the "loot-box game mechanism is designed to exploit the same psychological responses that make slot machines addictive, which represents a significant risk to vulnerable consumers "and that loot boxes are often designed to resemble slot machines in how they pay their non-monetary rewards.
The letter demands that politicians limit the availability of booties for those over 21 years old, have booties and the games that include them are regulated by the same groups that regulate the game, require a clear disclosure of the chances of winning articles in boots, they allow the regulators to audit the booties.
Although Electronic Arts has not responded to emails seeking comment from Glixel, and has not conducted any interviews since the controversy began, this is the second time that CFO Jorgensen talks about The Problem with Analysts.
Speaking earlier this week, Joregensen described the turmoil surrounding the game as a learning experience.
"But it has been a great learning experience for us, we consider ourselves a learning organization," he told the analyst meeting. "If we are not learning, that means we are failing in some way and we are constantly trying to see what people do and how they play and listen to them to decide what is the best way to build great games. "