Electronic Arts CEO Andrew Wilson delivered some potentially unwelcome news for gamers during a conference call for investors last week.
Battlefield 1 will have both macro and microtransactions.
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Wilson said “…in Battlefield 1, you will see both macro monetization opportunities from us like maps and large scale content, as well as micro monetization opportunities…” This news isn’t terribly surprising, as both Battlefield 4 and Battlefield Hardline included these kinds of macro and microtransactions.
Honestly, I didn’t find either of these exploitative in Battlefield 4 or Hardline. EA did a good job of providing a solid core experience for players, and I never once felt like I needed to purchase Battlepacks. They were kind of a rare treat on the side. In fact, this news is almost welcome in a way, because it likely means there will be a premium subscription service for Battlefield 1, which has yet to be confirmed.
It remains to be seen how fleshed out Battlefield 1 will be in terms of weapons and other equipment because of the technological limitations from the time period. And I do have concerns: Battlefield 1 needs to ship as a complete game. DICE’s last product, Star Wars Battlefront, was criticized for lacking core game content. It provided great amounts of personalization options, but after a few hours, the experience turned monotonous. I hope DICE ships Battlefield 1 with a wide variety of maps, vehicles, weapons, and equipment. I don’t mind paying extra for content that actually feels like an add-on, and not a part of the game that should have shipped in the box.
Wilson appeared to understand this concern, when he said “…are we able to provide value to the gamer, in terms of extending and enhancing their experience? And… are we able to do that in a world where we give them choice?” – That choice is important. I don’t want to feel like parts of Battlefield 1 are behind a paywall, or if I don’t pay for the DLC, I can’t remain competitive. There are ways to make money with macro and microtransactions without being exploitive. For example, Battlefield 1 developers have said the game has amazing weapon skins. I have no beef if those become microtransactions, since they don’t impact the game’s mechanics.
There are also ways to reward loyal players without sacrificing your bottom line. Battlefield 4 rewarded players with occasional free maps. This probably wasn’t expensive to do, and helped build a relationship with fans of the series. It’s a very small sacrifice for a decent return in PR. In a year when Call of Duty is at its weakest, EA and DICE should lay on the freebies.
It’s especially important to remember that whatever form these paid transactions take, EA will make millions off of them. Game companies guard their DLC and microtransaction profit figures like they are the Ark of the Covenant. Rockstar made over 500 million dollars from these transactions in GTA V alone. That’s almost double the game’s actual production budget, and this doesn’t even include sales of the core game! The only reason we have this information is because it was released as part of a court order. Battlefield 1 will be just as lucrative.
Hopefully some of my fears will be dispelled at EA Play and E3. I want Battlefield 1 to ship as a game that feels unquestionably finished. If that occurs, I’ll consider things like Battlefield Premium and microtransactions, if the content is compelling.
What do you think about the macro and microtransactions announcement for Battlefield 1? What do you expect to see in-game? What would you be interested in? Do you hate it? Tell us in the comments.