EA’s lost the Battlefront but will win the war

If you play games and don’t live under a rock you’ll likely know that EA’s flagship Star Wars property Battlefront 2 launches November 17th. If you know that, you’ll also know that EA has been under fire from the gaming community because of it.

Firstly, EA got community backlash over their decision to put all progression into a loot box mechanic. Meaning, you’ll progress but your rewards are down to luck. EA have made changes to this but in early reviews, the progression system is widely considered the worst part of the game.

Secondly, EA made hero characters Luke Skywalker and Darth Vadar cost 60,000 credits to unlock. Based on the time it takes to earn credits, if you purchased nothing else, it would take 40 hours to unlock just one of the two. The gaming community applied pressure and the heroes now cost 15,000 credits.

So two wins for the community, but is it?

What bamboozles me, as a gamer, is why do EA continue to mask the real reasons for their progression decisions? They don’t need to come out with PR reasons. Gamers KNOW why they are using loot boxes.

Loot boxes aren’t fun per se. They are addicting. EA knows it. Gamers know it. EA also knows by controlling the % chance of rewards and the time needed to earn a loot box they can extend Battlefront 2’s lifetime value. Meaning, the longer you keep someone playing and the more appealing the carrot (on the end of the stick), the more likely they’ll crack and spend real money due to a whole host of psychology traits people have.

In all honesty, EA could come out and say “we know loot boxes, grind times and sexy rewards will earn us $$$”.  It won’t stop people buying the game and it won’t stop people playing it.  You could put the Star Wars brand on a stick you find in the woods and someone would buy it. It’s STAR WARS!

The fact EA (and others) don’t just say the truth is because of player motivation.  Saying the above will make gamers give up in the grind.  Yet EA could come out with a robust and honest reason to build trust otherwise it leads to other questions like…

Launching with heroes at 60,000 credits and then reducing to 15,000 looks like a calculated move. A means to say to the community “look we’re listening”. It’s the same tactic as in stores. When a sale approaches the prices go up and the following sale price then looks more appealing. The fact gamer’s see a 45,000 credit decrease makes it all seem reasonable but it just highlights these giant carrots dangling on the end of very long sticks.  It’s marketing.  Just consider this…

It is estimated via Star Wars Strategies that it will take 4,528 hours to unlock everything via the loot box progression or $2100. If this data is accurate, EA will definitely win the war as winning a battle means nothing in the long run.


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Everything is fuelled by big data

The title may sound extreme but all businesses thrive on knowing their customer. Well, they did. It’s now only about what the data shows.

This puts data scientists at the forefront of customer services as they are the ones extracting via extensive consumer tracking. This scares the living sh*t out of me as the logic-minded number crunchers aren’t really into service with a smile. They like facts and digging deeper.

So as you press yes on that interface, they get a chunk of info, but likely want to know more, so everything is now digging that bit deeper. This started decades ago and now there is so much big data that Amazon knows what you order, when you order it and the price you’re willing to pay, at that moment in time. You are in the matrix, so to speak. Well, your actions are at least.

So while those pretty interfaces that data scientists use look friendly and informative, it’s actually your life in a pie chart. A pie chart that every technology company can buy, utilize and take advantage of to make a profit.

You’d think because big data has taken the burden of knowing your customer that things like quality, innovation, challenge and fun would become the focus, it hasn’t. Mostly because each is too reliant on an individuals personality. This is why addiction, explosions, sex, shock value and other “pushing the boundaries” have become the norm. It grabs attention, holds attention and we engage. There is little choice involved.

Don’t consider the above as sarcasm. It’s fact but is it scary?

The collection of data isn’t scary. Data is good as it could lead to the curing of Cancer. The showing and sharing of non-personal data isn’t scary either. If your names not on it, does it matter if they know 27% of people love walking around their home nude in the day?

There will be big questions for big data and Artificial Intelligence ahead. It’s just whether we end up in an Idiocracy-style world before hand.  You should only worry if you don’t trust big corporations or your government…

Oh sh*t!

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