Star Wars Battlefront 2 was shown in depth by EA at its presentation in the lead-up to E3 2017, and on top of the major surface changes will be a change to how the game generates revenue after launch. EA is planning to drop the old system of large paid expansion packs and replace them with free expansions in favor of more microtransactions for players.
Microtransactions are prevalent among free-to-play and e-sport video games as a way for the developer to offer something that’s not exactly essential to playing the game but might improve their experience. Often these microtransactions are focused on extra aesthetic options of in-game characters, but in some cases can include extra abilities or characters. For games such as Star Wars Battlefront 2 that feature online multiplayer, the expansion pack system has often been divisive, as not all players will pay for the extra content, and that can leave those players behind as gamers who do pay will likely spend their time focused on the new content.
2015’s Star Wars Battlefront was just one of several EA games that used paid expansion packs. Others include entries in the Battlefield series and Titanfall, which had issues with fragmented player-bases because not every player could play on every map. The switch to microtransactions will let players buy just the base Star Wars Battlefront 2 game and keep playing with their friends through the lifetime of the game if EA doesn’t decide to release some paid expansions packs down the line. Players who want more than what the base game gives them can then buy packs that will unlock in-game cards to change the way their characters look or work.
Microtransactions can be highly profitable, so EA is not likely to worry about a loss of revenue by switching to this business model and giving expansions for the game away for free. As long as the microtransaction model doesn’t give paying players an extreme advantage in-game that non-paying players feel like cannon-fodder, this change will likely be a win-win for EA and Star Wars Battlefront 2 players. Free expansions will keep more players playing for longer, and that in turn will mean more opportunities for EA to sell crates.
The content coming to Star Wars Battlefront 2 already seemed like enough to make it stand out above its predecessor. It will feature a story mode wedged between the end of the second movie trilogy and the beginning of the third, and it features content from all three eras of the Star Wars universe. Introducing microtransactions in place of paid DLC will likely make the game just that much better.
There could be concerns about the quality of future expansions to the game, though. Since this switch would mean EA won’t be selling its new maps and content, there may be less incentive to actually put effort into them. The microtransaction model has worked for other games, like Overwatch and the undying Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. If it is executed effectively for Battlefront 2, it could give the game some serious longevity.
Star Wars Battlefront 2 is set to launch on November 17, 2017 for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
Source: The Wall Street Journal