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EA removes Battlefront 2 refund option as gamers mass-cancel pre-orders (thenextweb.com)
93 points by artsandsci 9 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 56 comments

Can mods update the title to the one of the site: "EA removes Battlefront 2 refund option as gamers cancel pre-orders en masse [Update: False alarm]" - Looks like this is actually not a problem.

> Update: As pointed out by PCGamesN, it appears the refund button is disabled for all pre-orders on EA’s Origin store – not just for Star Wars: Battlefront 2.

> While EA does indeed offer refunds for up to seven days after a pre-ordered game launches, the refund button only appears once the game is out. This means that anybody who wants to cancel their pre-order will have to go through the customer support chat by default.

> Or alternatively, wait for the refund button to show up once Battlefront 2 launches officially on November 17.

I disagree. Disabling all refunds is an obvious obfuscation for disabling BF2 refunds.

The update is that refunds aren't disabled, the system has always worked in this particular way for pre-orders less than 7 days before launch, and nothing has changed. When the game launches, the refund function is available for 24 hours from first start up.

Did they change it today so this is how it works? Your quote doesn't really specify and I pretty much expect this sort of sneaky non-full-disclosure behavior from EA.

I'd heard and seen screenshots on Reddit showing the button being present prior to all this happening, and then disappearing. Is that not the case?

EA's statement is not clear, it just says "the refund button only appears once the game is out" but doesn't clarify how long that has been the case. Knowing EA, that probably means "As of two hours ago, the refund button only appears once the game is out."

With respect, I think a lot of people are missing the bigger issue here. Slowly, steadily, and imperfectly, mass culture is starting to demand authenticity from the companies that sell them products. The most downvoted comment on reddit, with something like 650k downvotes, is EA's predictably soulless PR response to the pricing complaints (which is now copy-pasted into every thread about p2win and overpriced microtransactions).

This is part of a cultural shift. EA appears to be on the wrong side of it, and the traditional "community engagement" tactics they deployed backfired horrendously. Twenty years ago, you could adequately manage a mass consumer community with ads and some targeted engagement. As people's resistance to transparent inauthenticity grows (and it has been growing steadily for at least fifty years), it is becoming increasingly difficult to manage people one doesn't actually care about. Mass credulity is decreasing (slowly, steadily, imperfectly).

As with all cultural shifts, there are contradictions and complexities. Yes, some kids in the "downvote brigade" will buy the game anyway, and there will be whales who spend too much money on the game. The problem for EA is that they won't be as numerous, and as time and culture march on they will eventually all but vanish.

I don't think anyone in advertising or PR thinks their job is getting easier. And honestly, it should be difficult to sell people stupid baubles for large amounts of money. I think the rise of mass media exposed some holes in our collective cultural defenses that we've been patching up over two or three generations. This kind of backlash will become increasingly more frequent as large entertainment companies attempt and fail to adapt to the changing times. At the end of the day, some middle-aged cadre of smart, possibly even savvy and well-meaning PR people will try to adapt EA's (or whomever's) community engagement tactics, and they will find a new and creative (even laudable) ways to fail.

I might be too pessimistic, but I'm inclined to believe that PR/marketing will figure out how to be 'authentic' or otherwise solve this problem well enough. There's lots of smart people who get paid to do so, and I think that trumps any disjointed mob behavior.

In fact, it's quite possible EA is not at all surprised by this backlash and was simply 'optimizing'. This time they went a bit too far perhaps, so next time they'll be a bit nicer until all this is forgotten.

I mean, we're talking about EA here. I don't recall a time where they weren't hated by most of Reddit, and I don't get the impression it's been much of a problem for them.

And yet folks will keep falling for the CGI trailers and marketing hype EA churns out for every game. The only solution is to wholesale stop supporting ANY game EA produces.

And a single whale can make up for literally hundreds of lost sales through micro-transactions.

Exactly! Microtransactions are there to grab the big spenders. Mobile "games" follow this pattern to the extreme. For example some guy spent $1M playing a mobile game ([0] and HN discussion [1]). Honestly I don't understand why game companies are left to exploit gullible people (adults and/or kinds) into what is essentially gambling.

[0] https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2016/12/california-man-s...

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13165780

>into what is essentially gambling

I think at this point it's important to differentiate: Loot-Crate systems with resellable content (CS:Go etc) are gambling. Loot-Crate systems without resellable content function by the same mechanism but are different legally.

On the other hand pay-to-win or pay-to-skip are very different from gambling and work by completely different mechanisms. Being ahead of everyone else allows whales to either feel superior or to help fellow players, making the whales feel useful and depended upon. All of these feelings can be hard to get in the offline world, so instead whales pay to get them online.

I'm not condoning predatory microtransaction systems at all, but I think it's important to differentiate them instead of treating them all as if they were gambling

I think it's also important to note that this is not a scenario which was imagined when those rules were put into place and that gacha systems exploit the same psychological responses in order to get you to spend more.

Yup, and making the game pay to win (as opposed to offering only cosmetic items for sale) means the whales are going to come out in full force. It really is gambling and I think it should be treated as such.

Technically, to be gambling the company would need to give out prizes with monetary value.

I agree that it's perhaps an oversight that dopamine release is not considered a prize under the existing 3-part test for gambling - chance, prizes, risk of loss.

Yeah I think it's really murky too. The interpretation of 'monetary value' is not 100% clear. For example, Japan has a very different stance on these sort of mechanisms.

The only reason the ESRB (admittedly not a regulatory body) does not consider loot crates gambling is because there is no chance of getting nothing from a loot box. Of course, you are almost guaranteed to get items which, in practice, have no value to you.

Let's also not ignore the fact that the micro-transaction model exploits the same exact psychological responses used by gambling houses to get you to spend more money. Combine that with the fact that these games are rated teen and I think you have a problem, regardless of whether or not you call it 'gambling'.

I thought one of the ways they get around being regulated as gambling is that you technically can not lose and get nothing. You will always "win" at least something, even if the item is worthless to you.

That's the reasoning used by the ESRB to rate a game < Mature.

>perhaps an oversight that dopamine release is not considered a prize

If that's the case, how is going to the movies not gambling? I can't predict how much I'm going to enjoy a given movie before I go.

While true, I imagine whales are less likely to stick around if there aren't enough non-whales around to keep things interesting.

Sure, but now you're describing a massive boycott and that simply isn't going to happen. Most people just don't care all that much. They'll buy the game, put in their ~20 hours, and move on. Then you have the next group which will keep playing, but still doesn't care very much about the drama over on reddit and the forums. The issue simply isn't big enough to get e.g. 1M people to decide not to buy.

People say this but look at the online passesEA started then finally got rid up due to overwhelming negative feedback.

Absolutely boycott publishers you feel are harming the industry. It takes time but it does work. Besides, there's so many wonderful games you're not missing anything and you're helping to make the industry better.

Season passes are one thing, not buying a game to begin with is another. EA has a monopoly on the Star Wars license and the game itself is pretty good. So unless you never want to play another Star Wars game, you can't boycott. Your friends are probably playing too, so you miss out playing with them now. People complain and complain, but they still buy the games.

Keep in mind there's also the fact that little 10 year old Timmy doesn't actually care about any of this. He just wants to play star wars damn it! It's mommy's money that EA is taking, and mom doesn't know what's going on and likely doesn't have the time to notice that games are doing what they are

I doubt this would happen as long as EA got hold of various sports licenses.

The article only tells half the story.

"EA eventually announced it will lower the character unlocking difficulty by 75 percent. But it seems this didn’t curb the outrage."

From what I was reading last night they also reduced the currency rewarded by playing the main campaign. Thus making the cost reduction negligible. Looks like it was just a misdirection tactic by EA.

Also worth noting, reducing the cost by 75% still means that darth vader costs roughly $65 or 10 hours of your time. That's one character. There are at least 6 others to purchase.

Wait, 10 hours of gameplay to unlock Vader? That's actually not too bad. I was under the impression that it was 10x that. Not that I'm going to buy this game, but 10hrs is easily attainable in 1 weekend. Especially if the game is fun.

A character that previous games let you play from the get-go and for free.

It used to be 40 hours

Is playing the campaign the main way that people earn currency? I would have expected it to be through multiplayer matches.

The campaign is 5-8 hours [1]. Perhaps in the long run most of a player's currency would come from multiplayer, initially a large chunk would have come through the campaign.

[1] https://www.gamespot.com/articles/star-wars-battlefront-2s-c...

Is it possible this is all free marketing for EA and was planned? (or at least controlled after?) This customer base has no self control or long term opinions. Hell, i bet half the people downvoting on Reddit will still buy the game + creates before Christmas.

The wider causal gaming community probably don't know or care.

There is no way a marketing department would approve that plan. I guarantee everyone over there is in full on damage control (how they're doing on that remains to be seen).

> Is it possible this is all free marketing for EA and was planned? ... > The wider causal gaming community probably don't know or care.

Point 2 is absolutely correct, making the answer to your original question “highly unlikely”.

I mean it worked for me as marketing. I'm a FPS gamer and didn't know this was coming out. It made me go look on footage on YT to see if it was something I'd like despite the drama (the answer was no).

I used to have a video game addiction. I once sat on my knees for 8 hours playing Mega Man 2 (I could barely unfold my legs afterwards). When I got Diablo in 1996, I stayed up for 40 hours playing it, to the point where I started clicking on hallucinatory demons on the screen.

I am so happy I stopped playing video games before in-app purchases became a trend. Destroyed productivity was bad, but the stories about people flushing tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars down the drain terrify me. That could have been me.

The comment itself doesn't seem all that terrible though. Perhaps a little tone deaf but not at all offensive.

It snowballed a bit, but overall it reflects the disregard gamers feel from EA: they try to make a $60+ game that also has microtransactions (Games-as-a-Service) and everything that is buyable by microtransactions has to be impossible/extra tedious to achieve in regular play to bait the whales(their actual target demographic) into wasting a ton of money (while the average gamer is just plankton/social bait to EA). And then they try to bullshit their way out of it with this argument.

If they made the end-game characters (Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, etc) 40+hours to get, and they DIDN'T have microtransactions to get them quickly, would gamers be complaining? Doubtful.

They made the game HARD. That's good, that's what people asked for. Then they made the game EASY if you want to pay extra to make it easy. I think that's a fair trade, but that's clearly a minority opinion.

People don't want to pay for DLC, season pass, expansions basically nothing? How do you pay for upcoming content then? For the current price the game has a vast content.

Most publishers and developers do fine with reasonable microtransactions, DLC, season passes and so on. It's just EA that makes it extra inhuman in trying to squeeze out the last cent out of everyone (including bleeding out their studios), which in turn makes them so unpopular for developers/non-casual gamers.

Maybe you've heard of Dota 2 or Overwatch, two massively profitable and popular games with no interactive content behind transactions. EA could have easily just made different cosmetic skins for the USS Enterprise (or whatever) with a hierarchy of rarities, stuck them in crates, and let the money roll in.

> Maybe you've heard of Dota 2 or Overwatch, two massively profitable and popular games with no interactive content behind transactions.

I agree with what you're saying, but there's a small amendment to that: with Overwatch, you can buy loot boxes for extra character skins or sprays. But the impact on the game is minimal[0]. Loot boxes start at $1 each (with volume discounts available), but you also get one for free every time you level up, which happens every 5 games or so[1], in addition to a loot box for every three arcade-mode games you win (up to three boxes per week).

In my mind, this is the right way to do it: the content is good enough to be engaging and worth paying a small amount of money for if you really want a certain skin, but you can also decide never to pay one cent after you initially buy the game and still feel like you're getting the full experience.

[0] There are a couple of cases where certain emotes can make it easy to hide in an unexpected location, affecting gameplay, but they're rare enough that the videos get shared widely, and once they're no longer secret, they don't impact the competitive meta-game measurably. In other words, it's self-correcting: there's no systematic way that buying loot boxes to get all the skins/emotes/sprays/etc. allows you to consistently improve your competitive advantage over other players.

[1] Depends on whether or not you win, how well you personally play in each round, whether you're in a group, etc.

That’s not the point at all. For example, look how many gamers complained about the Witcher DLC. What bothers players is day-1-DLC and non-cosmetic loot boxes in paid games.

Which Witcher DLC, who was complaining?

I haven't seen anything but praise for CDPR for the Witcher games. The game was amazing, with free DLCs that are as big as some smaller games, and they had 2 expansions that people had to pay for. Everyone was happy.

>I haven't seen anything but praise for CDPR for the Witcher games

Yeah that was my point! No one complained because everyone saw it as fair.

How do you get that from OP's post? OP specifically said it's about stuff `that is (..) impossible/extra tedious to achieve in regular play to bait the whales`.

I don't mind paying extra if new features are released, including new characters and new schemes. But it seems like the main characters (e.g. Vader, Bobba Fett etc.) should be achievable. I mean, that's kinda the point of buying a franchise game right? You want to play as one of your favorite characters.

This made me look around a bit and I came across this excellent piece explaining how the economy of the game is fucked up: https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2017/11/can-ea-fix-whats-brok.... Maybe they should go the Valve way and hire an actual economist to design their economy?

I paid for all Battlefield season passes, and would continue to do so if given the option. The franchise has some of my most-played games (350+ hours in BF1, 150+ in BF4, 550+ in BF3). My only grief with the paid DLCs and season passes is the map segmentation: non-paying customers (well, those that didn't pay for the DLC) don't get the new maps, and then two parts of the customer base are segregated between two different sets of maps. I would be more than happy to see all new maps come for free, and I'd still pay for a season pass for new cosmetics/weapons/vehicles/whatever.

Hope that makes sense


Guess I’m stupid! I played the 10 hour demo, and then pre-ordered, based on my own experience being that the game is really fun. The reddit complaints are blown way out of proportion.

I'm interested in getting to know your experience after a couple tens of hours, when you get obliterated by some whales that got all the good loot for obscene amounts of money. Genuinely interested.

I read someone here saying that most people will only play this game's multiplayer for 2O hours and then move on, and I suspect they are correct. And it will be exacerbated by the pay-to-win model

I don't think that's really fair- the early-unlock "Hero" characters are just as viable as the late-unlock "Hero" characters, they're just less famous. You get Yoda and The Emperor instead of Luke and Vader. They all kick equal amounts of ass.

I'm curious, why pre-order something that isn't scarce? Just for the hats or whatever they're giving out as a bonus, or is it maybe a bit cheaper or something?

You get a three day headstart on building up your credits / stats / whatevers.

Which is genius, really, since then the non-pre-order people are at an immediate disadvantage and thus perfectly primed for play2win microtransactions.

edit; nevermind, should have known better.

Where did i say i didn't read the article? Tl;DR's are for people to not have to read the article, made by people that have read the article.

I suppose I expect more from someone who has been here for almost 9 years.

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