Hours Before Launch, Star Wars: Battlefront 2 Drops Microtransactions Temporarily

[UPDATE 3] Industry analyst Daniel Ahmad of Niko Partners weighed in on the news on Twitter, pointing out that microtransactions and loot boxes are not going away. “They’re already accepted,” he said. “All that’s happening is EA tweaking the system to make it ‘fun and addictive” instead of ‘intrusive and predatory.”

[UPDATE 2] VentureBeat is reporting that EA CEO Andrew Wilson spoke with Disney CEO Bob Iger over the phone today before the Battlefront II changes were announced. The report doesn’t mention what they might have talked about, though a chat about Battlefront II’s loot crate system seems more likely than discussing plans for the weekend.

[UPDATE] EA released a statement on Battlefront II’s microtransactions, confirming they have been removed, but only temporarily. “We’ve heard the concerns about potentially giving players unfair advantages,” DICE boss Oskar Gabrielson said. “And we’ve heard that this is overshadowing an otherwise great game. This was never our intention. Sorry we didn’t get this right.”

All in-game purchases for Battlefront II are now removed, with all progression now exclusively tied to gameplay. EA is bringing back microtransactions “at a later date,” but not until the studio has time to make unspecified “changes to the game.” More details on this changes will come later as DICE considers more feedback and date. One possibility is that Battlefront II’s microtransactions will return as cosmetic only, as is the case in Overwatch and other games, though this is just speculation.

“We have created a game that is built on your input, and it will continue to evolve and grow,” Gabrielson explained.

As it stands, all of Battlefront II’s DLC maps will be free, though there is no word as of yet about if today’s announcement changes anything. The removal of the game’s microtransactions comes just hours before Battlefront II is due to launch everywhere on November 17, though as mentioned, it’s been available for some already.

Microtransaction systems are commonplace in AAA games today. In fact, it is rare for a big game to not have a microtransaction system. What’s different about Battlefront II’s system is that players could spend real money for the chance to unlock items and weapons that actually affect gameplay, and that’s part of the reason why players got so stirred up. Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto Online also offers microtransactions, and they make parent publisher Take-Two lots and lots of money.

The original story is below.

It looks like big changes may be in the works for Star Wars: Battlefront II’s microtransaction system. It was discovered today that you can no longer purchase the game’s virtual currency, Crystals, with real money.

Accessing the Crystals purchase page on Xbox One today yields the screen below. As you can see, it does not give you the option to buy Crystals. However, you can still purchase them through the Xbox.com store, at least for the time being (though that may have something to do with Microsoft, not EA, controlling that page). We’re working to confirm the situation on PlayStation 4 and PC. Keep checking back for more.

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Star Wars: Battlefront II’s microtransaction/loot crate system has been highly contentious and controversial running back to when players discovered how the system worked in October’s open beta. Loot boxes come with random items, but instead of things that are cosmetic only, they can also contain game-affecting things like deadlier grenades or cloaking abilities that give players a theoretical advantage.

Naturally, some portion of the audience did not enjoy this. Developer DICE made major changes to the credit-unlock values for heroes, reducing the in-game currency cost by 75 percent for characters like Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker. However, no changes were made to the actual microtransaction system, at least until now.

Today’s action comes just a day after Belgium’s gambling authority launched an investigation into Battlefront II (and Overwatch) over concerns that its loot crate system could constitute gambling. In response to that, EA came out with a statement that stressed that Battlefront II’s loot crates “are not gambling.”

Earlier this week, DICE held a Reddit AMA in which it responded to, among other things, concerns about Battlefront II’s microtransactions. The developer said microtransactions are available as an optional way to potentially speed up your progression. Everything that you can get in a loot crate can also be obtained via gameplay.

“Regarding microtransactions, we want players to enjoy their progression through the game and want gameplay to be fair along the way,” the developer said. “Microtransactions are there for player choice, but won’t be a requirement to play or succeed at the game. And like everything else, we’ll continue tweaking and tuning until we achieve these goals.”

Get Double XP In Destiny 2 This Weekend, Here’s How

Destiny 2 is adding a new way to earn double XP. The Clarion Call event, which was announced last week, goes into effect starting on November 17 at 10 AM PT.

To earn double XP in the Clarion Call event, you have to be in a clan, though if you’re not already you can create or join one during the event and still get the reward. Once you’re in a clan, fighting alongside teammates in activities will yield double XP toward bright engrams for Destiny 2 Season 1. The double XP event ends on November 20.

All the information about how to create or join a clan can be found here on Bungie’s website. It’s a relatively simple process, and well worth doing to get that double XP reward if you are interested.

If you’re a solo player, you’ll have a chance to earn double XP at a later date. Bungie announced recently that future Clarion Call events will offer rewards for solo players, though as of yet, there are no specifics about when the event will happen.

In other news, Bungie has announced that Destiny 2’s Iron Banner event is coming back next week. It marks the first Iron Banner for PC, and the last one in Destiny 2’s Season One. Additionally, Destiny 2’s first expansion, Curse of Osiris, launches in December.

Star Wars: Battlefront 2’s Loot Boxes “Are Not Gambling,” EA Says

Following the news today that Belgium’s gambling authority is investigating Star Wars: Battlefront 2 (and Overwatch) to determine if the game’s loot box system constitutes gambling, publisher Electronic Arts has now responded. In a statement to GameSpot, EA says in no uncertain terms, “The crate mechanics of Star Wars: Battlefront II are not gambling.”

Here is the statement in full: “Creating a fair and fun game experience is of critical importance to EA. The crate mechanics of Star Wars Battlefront II are not gambling. A player’s ability to succeed in the game is not dependent on purchasing crates. Players can also earn crates through playing the game and not spending any money at all. Once obtained, players are always guaranteed to receive content that can be used in game.”

Games of chance require a permit from the Gaming Commission in Belgium, and due to the random nature of loot boxes, they could fall into that category. Battlefront II’s loot boxes can contain items that actually affect gameplay, while Overwatch’s are cosmetic only. It’s unclear if this would impact the ruling, however.

Blizzard has yet to release a statement it seems regarding Belgium’s investigation. We’ve reached out to the company but have not heard back as of yet.

EA has faced a flood of criticism over Battlefront II’s loot box/microtransaction systems. Just this week, EA CFO Blake Jorgensen said “people need to be patient” as the developer responds to player feedback and makes necessary changes. DICE also held an in-depth Reddit AMA where it answered many questions about the game.

Ashes Cricket Review

Very few sports struggle to survive the transition from real-life to video game like cricket does. Cricket is perceived as slow and long; some might even call it a little bit boring. Cricket video games have often suffered similar problems, often weighed down by cumbersome, complex controls and glacial pacing when compared to the likes of a FIFA or a Madden. Ashes Cricket suffers some of these inherent problems as well as a few of its own making, but also manages to capture the heart of the game in a way that few have achieved before. Despite some poor presentation and a handful of bugs, fans of the sport will find Ashes Cricket a good way to enjoy the virtual sound of leather on willow.

For those of you not from Commonwealth nations, The Ashes is the name of a series of five, day-long matches held between Australia and England that has been going on for well over a hundred years, and serves as this game’s flagship mode, with fully licenced men’s and women’s squads from both nations. If a full test series seems a little intimidating, there’s no shortage of other variants to play. Casual matches are quick and easy to set up, allowing you to get into a Test, 50 over, or 20 over match with total ease. You can go online and play a match with some mates, jump into the nets for some training, or if you want something completely different, you can create your own match type in the match editor, which lets you change up almost every facet of the game to your heart’s content. You can even create your own stadium, defining everything from the grandstands and the pavilion, down to the individual roads that lead into the grounds. While I can’t imagine everyone getting a kick out of being able to make their own stadium, it’s great to see this level of customisation offered out of the box.

But when it comes to playing the Ashes series, the emphasis is on the licensed Australian and English teams, who all match their real world likenesses. However, it’s on this visual level where Ashes Cricket’s flaws start to show. Players lack any kind of nuanced facial animations, so they tend to maintain a steely, thousand-yard stare at all times. Animation quality varies throughout; while core actions like batting, bowling, and some field movements look top notch and smooth, transitions between animations can be problematic. On more than one occasion I had a batsman run out because they took too long to turn around and get their bat back over the crease, something which I had no control over at the time because they were on the opposite end of the wicket. Losing a key player in a moment like this can be not only hugely frustrating, but it can change the face of a match as well. This can also be a problem in the field, where slow animations when chasing down the ball can leave you begging for a little more effort from your players.

Lack of a full license means all the other national teams–any country that’s not Australia or England–as well as club and state teams are sadly filled up with fantasy players instead of their real-life counterparts. However, through the player and team editor modes, the community is encouraged to create their own squads, and this is backed up by the inclusion of a Get Best button which automatically downloads all the highest rated community made players for that team. It’s not as ideal as having fully licensed squads, but it’s one way to creatively circumvent the problem.

The worst part of the lacklustre presentation is the in-game commentary. It is irredeemably bad, to the point where I can only recommend turning it off and saving yourself the pain. When they aren’t busy making incomplete calls, they are making entirely incorrect ones, all while sounding bored out of their minds. What makes everything even worse is the fact that the team is voiced by professional, real-world commentators.

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Thankfully, the act of playing the sport in Ashes Cricket is enjoyable. The full career mode lets you create a brand new player and skill them up through the ranks, from club and state/county level cricket all the way up to fighting for international selection. Playing and performing well in matches will reward you with SP, which is spent on raising your player’s skills, and in turn, helps raise your player’s profile and chances of selection for the national team. It’s one of the most engaging game modes thanks to its depth, modelling the full, real-world club/county cricket structure.

How you engage with career matches is also completely up to you. You can choose to take control of the full squad or just your player for each match, which significantly changes how a match plays out based on whether you’re a batter, bowler, or an all-rounder. While controlling a full squad gives you complete control, playing as a single player feels much more focused. A batter will rarely, if ever, have to worry about bowling, so you can elect to skip the fielding portion of the game entirely, taking control only when your player comes onto the pitch to bat their innings. Letting players focus on specific parts of the game works well as a way of keeping play progression moving along steadily, without getting bogged down by the sport’s arduous match lengths.

And while the game’s worst moments make an appearance on the field, the parts that do work both feel good and capture the moment-to-moment nature of the sport that makes it so alluring. Controls for batting, bowling, and fielding feel intuitive, save some slight inconsistencies, with two distinct control variations available to pick from: standard or classic. While the standard controls rely more on timing your button presses when batting and bowling, the classic variety instead relies on use of the two thumbsticks to control the action. Classic controls feel just right for batting, giving you the most flexibility, whereas for bowling the standard controls felt more intuitive. You can mix up control styles however you please, but ultimately it doesn’t matter which you choose, because smashing a bowler to the boundary or taking a batsman’s stumps out of the ground with a swinging fastball feels nothing short of fantastic in either mode. Appealing for a wicket is left to the player to handle, though, and the game doesn’t do a great job of communicating this. Caught behinds, lbw’s and run outs all require an appeal and while I enjoyed being able to control this, more automated help could be offered for novice players in this regard.

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A lot of the field work is handled semi-automatically, with the closest fielder chasing down the ball on their own, and the player then choosing which end of the wicket to throw the ball too. But the speed and trajectory with which the ball is flung back to the wicket feels inconsistent as sometimes the ball will come back hard and fast, other times it’ll be a harmless lob, despite nailing similar timings on the throw.

But the most enjoyable part of Ashes Cricket is when the ball is smashed towards one of your fielders and time slows down to a crawl, triggering a sequence where you need to quickly move a cursor into a circle then hit the corresponding button to safely take the catch. It puts the emphasis on the tension of the moment instead of relying on an automated fielder. Get it right and you’ll take the catch, but get it wrong and it could cost you dearly. It’s a shame this mechanic doesn’t trigger for catches that go straight down the fielder’s throats, as I like the idea of the player being responsible for the outcomes, but mostly because it looks and feels really good when you get it right.

Ashes Cricket has definitely got its issues; bad commentary, some rough presentation, only two licensed teams and a few bugs. But ultimately they can be shaken off, because the feeling of enjoyment I get when I’m playing Ashes Cricket is palpable. I haven’t played or watched the sport in over 10 years, but sitting down to play here feels intuitive and familiar in a way that’s surprisingly comforting. The batting, bowling and fielding all feel better than they have in any other cricket game before, and the sheer variety of game types and customisation offered makes Ashes Cricket, in spite of its issues, a sports game worthy of your time.

Nintendo Switch Is A “Great Platform” For Ark, Dev Says

Could the hit dinosaur game Ark: Survival Evolved come to Nintendo Switch? It’s possible but don’t get your hopes up just yet, according to developer Studio Wildcard. Co-founder and co-creative director Jesse Rapczak told GI.biz that the hybrid console is a “great platform” for Ark but also acknowledged that it’s a challenging one compared to the other systems that the game is available on.

“Switch is a little challenging because it is a totally different platform; so we’re throwing some ideas around, just seeing if it makes sense right now,” he said. “We don’t have any concrete plans yet, but we’re very close to Nintendo up here in Seattle and we all love the Switch for portability gaming and stuff like that. Ark is one of those games where if you want to do everything you can in the game, it’s hard to pull away from it to go do real life. So I think Switch is a great platform for a game like Ark, because if the game is designed right, you can kind of pull out and do some stuff.”

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Rapczak said the mobility of the Switch–that is, how you can play it on the go–is one element that makes the console appealing for Ark specifically given the play patterns and player behaviour that Studio Wildcard has seen.

“It’s kind of like some players play it almost like you might play a mobile game–you know, you might want to go do something in the game for a few minutes, like tend to your dinos or your crops or something if you play Ark that way,” he explained. “The mobility of the Switch platform might be appealing to those players, because they can just kinda carry it with them.”

While Studio Wildcard is excited about the Switch as a platform, it’s too soon to say if Ark will come to it.

“So we do have a lot of hurdles there, especially with memory. But I will say, for sure, we’re not ignoring the Switch,” Rapczak said. “I think it’s definitely proven to be a platform that is a little bit better this time around for third-party developers. People are buying it. People are loving the games. I think it’s just something that now is on our radar [so] let’s take a look at it and let’s see what we can do there.”

Also in the interview, Rapczak confirmed that Ark has now sold 12 million copies across its digital and physical versions covering PC and console, making it a huge hit. You can read the full interview here.

Injustice 2 Is Out Now On PC; DLC Character Hellboy Hits PS4, Xbox One For Some

[UPDATE] The new DLC character, Hellboy, is now available for people on PS4 and Xbox One who bought the new fighter pack. He’ll come to PC later. Hellboy’s wide release on PS4 and Xbox One is slated for November 21.

The original story is below.

Following its release for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One earlier this year, NetherRealm’s fighting game Injustice 2 launched today on PC. You can get the game on Steam and through the Microsoft Store for $50 for the base edition. The $80 Deluxe Edition, which comes with 9 DLC characters and other in-game items, is also available.

Previously released Injustice 2 extra characters such as Red Hood, Sub Zero, Black Manta, Starfire, and Raiden, are also available on PC. The game’s newest character, Hellboy, launches on November 21 for PS4 and Xbox One, but won’t be available on PC until “a later date.”

Whereas the console version of Injustice 2 was developed by NetherRealm Studios, the PC edition was developed by QLOC. Based in Poland, QLOC is a quality assurance, localization, and port studio. It has worked on games like Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition, BioShock 2, and Rime. You can see the PC edition’s system requirements below.

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GameSpot’s Injustice 2 review scored the game a 9/10. Reviewer Peter Brown said, “NetherRealm has delivered a fighting game that can be enjoyed by new players and pros alike in ways that go beyond pure competition.”

EA’s New Game-Streaming Service Could Launch By 2020

It sounds like Electronic Arts is getting into the game-streaming market. Speaking at the UBS Global Technology Conference this week, EA CFO Blake Jorgensen said you can expect EA to launch its unannounced streaming service in the next 2-3 years. The company isn’t doing this alone, as it’s working alongside an unspecified partner.

“I think you’ll see a commercial offering probably in the next 2-3 years from us and a partner,” Jorgensen said.

Also during the call, Jorgensen said one of the issues that held back streaming in recent years was lack of widespread data centers. If you live in an area far away from a data center, that could make your streaming experience poor. But thanks to the efforts from Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Apple, there are more data centers online today and this is helping give EA confidence that the time is right for a streaming service.

He added that Microsoft has started to talk about its own Xbox game-streaming plans publicly, which could be a reference to Phil Spencer’s statement that the Xbox streaming service is coming in the next few years. Intriguingly, Spencer said the Xbox streaming service could launch by 2020, which matches up with Jorgensen’s prediction of when it would get involved, too. Microsoft and EA have worked together in the past on things like EA Access, but it remains to be seen if Microsoft is the unspecified partner that Jorgensen referenced in his comments this week.

There are still issues with streaming in general, Jorgensen said. He mentioned that while internet speeds are getting better in some places, that can’t be said for everywhere. Jorgensen also stressed that he doesn’t foresee streaming replacing console gaming anytime soon, if it ever does at all.

Earlier this year, EA management revealed that the company created a Battlefield streaming game demo alongside an internet company. You wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between it and a locally rendered game, EA said, according to GI.biz.

Sony already has a streaming service of its own, PlayStation Now, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see more companies like Microsoft and EA get involved in the space as well. With the rapid rise in digital gaming, a move to streaming could ultimately be more convenient for gamers, provided the online experience is robust enough.

Star Wars Battlefront 2 Launch: Release Date, Review, Gameplay Videos, And Everything You Need To Know

Star Wars Battlefront II is the latest Star Wars game from EA and DICE, and this time around, the developers have made some major changes to the series. Unlike 2015’s Star Wars Battlefront, all of Battlefront II’s DLC characters and maps will be given away for free to all players, but the game introduces microtransactions in the form of loot crates to compensate for that. It also features a full single-player campaign that’s set between the events of Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens and puts players in the role of Iden Versio, the leader of an Imperial special forces group called the Inferno Squad.

Star Wars Battlefront II releases for PS4, Xbox One, and PC on November 17. Ahead of the game’s launch, we’ve compiled our most important features and gameplay videos detailing everything you need to know about Star Wars Battlefront II. Check back often as we update this article with our in-depth review, guides, additional articles, and videos.

Review In Progress

Our full review of Battlefront II is coming soon once we get more time with the live game. Until then, you can read our thoughts in our Star Wars Battlefront II review-in-progress. GameSpot critic Alessandro Fillari scored the game a 6/10 and wrote, “While its main narrative feels unresolved, and the general loop of the multiplayer carries a number of issues, Battlefront II still manages to evoke that same sense of joy and excitement found in the core of what the series is all about. But as it stands, the biggest hurdle that Battlefront II will need to overcome–for its simultaneous attempts to balance microtransactions with genuine feeling of accomplishments–is deciding on what type of game it wants to be.”

Guides & Features

We’ll have in-depth tips and guides for Star Wars Battlefront II in the coming days to help you succeed in the game’s single-player and multiplayer modes. In the meantime, you can check out our guide on how Battlefront II’s complex progression system works, where we detail all of the game’s currencies, Star Cards, and what each of them unlocks.

  • How Does Progression Work?

Gameplay Videos

  • First Campaign Mission Gameplay–Here is the beginning of the single player campaign. Heads up, there are spoilers here.
  • The Battle Of Endor Campaign Mission Gameplay–Experience the iconic Battle of Endor from Iden Versio and the Empire’s perspective. Warning, there are spoilers here in the game’s second campaign mission.
  • Becoming The Emperor On Endor Full Match Gameplay–Galactic Assault mode has the Rebels trying to steal an AT-AT and the Emperor saying naaaah.
  • Tree-Top Battling On Kashyyyk Gameplay–Check out a full match of the mode Strike, on the new map Kashyyyk.
  • Killstreaks On Kamino Gameplay– Check out nimble killstreaks with the Arc-170, Millennium Falcon, and Poe’s Resistance X-Wing on the map Kamino.
  • 6 New Maps You Haven’t Seen–Here are six more maps we’ve tested out, including Kashyyyk, Tatooine, Hoth, and Endor.

For more on Star Wars Battlefront II, check out the news stories below.

  • Battlefront 2 Update Changes Hero-Unlock Values; Here’s How Much Vader And Luke Cost
  • Star Wars Battlefront 2’s Microtransactions Are A Real Problem; Here’s What $100 Does To Progression
  • Star Wars Battlefront 2’s Loot Crates Prices Revealed
  • Star Wars Battlefront 2’s Last Jedi DLC Release Date And New Content Detailed
  • Star Wars Battlefront 2 Hides A Cool Cantina Easter Egg On Tatooine

Justice League: Why You Should Fear Steppenwolf!

Justice League hits theaters this week, and will feature the DC super villain Steppenwolf! You might be more familiar with Darkseid, but Steppenwolf can do some serious damage and you’ll see first hand in Justice League. Ryan explores the New God’s comic book origins, powers and how he’s being adapted for the big screen.