If one thing is clear, is that one of the biggest controversies rocking the video game world this year had to do with Star Wars Battlefront 2 and its microtransactions. And many were so riled up by the fact that it was possible to buy “Star Cards” in the game which would give players advantages such as increased firepower, that game publisher Electronic Arts was forced to drop microtransactions from the game at the eleventh hour, stunning many in the gaming industry for sure.
But now it seems that not only Star Wars Battlefront 2 but other video games which feature microtransactions are under suspicion, and could be subject to investigation in several countries, with Belgium and its Gaming Commission leading the way (the commission recently looked at whether loot boxes in video games could be considered a form of gambling).
And proof that microtransactions linked to pay-to-win schemes could be subject to probes in the future is the fact that a French senator recently penned a letter to the country’s regulating authority for online gambling (ARJEL), urging it to look in to the matter. The senator wrote about “the desirability of providing consumer protection in this area”, as reported on gaming website GameRant.
What’s interesting is that this letter mentions Star Wars Battlefront 2 specifically, a game that is devoid of microtransactions for the time being but which are almost certain to return as developer DICE is currently reworking the system to make it more player-friendly. What would happen, though, if countries such as Belgium or France where to consider pay-to-win microtransactions a form of gambling?
It’s clear the way these are implemented in games like Star Wars Battlefront 2 would have to change, especially taking into account that EA’s latest game is aimed at ages 16 and above (and obviously minors are not allowed to gamble in most jurisdictions, of course…).
However, Electronic Arts and Disney (which owns the Star Wars franchise) could come up with a different microtransaction model for Star Wars Battlefront 2 and other upcoming games, one limited to the sale of cosmetic items as seen in games such as Blizzard’s phenomenally successful Overwatch.
What’s clear, though, is that the ongoing battle between gamers who dislike any kind of microtransactions that make games pay-to-win and publishers like EA looking to make as much cash from their games as possible is nowhere near coming to an end, so here’s hoping that game publishers can come up with better monetization strategies that keep their fans happy in the long run.