Despite releasing a highly-anticipated Star Wars game this week, EA has instead been on the defense for what some have alleged to be unfair practices in Star Wars Battlefront 2. All week, fans have been accusing EA of withholding content behind paywalls. It's gotten to a point where the Belgium Gaming Commission is investigating loot boxes in Battlefront 2 as gambling. Something EA outright denies.
In a statement, EA flatly says that the "mechanics of Star Wars Battlefront 2 are not gambling."
"A player's ability to succeed in the game is not dependent on purchasing [looting boxes]," the EA statement added. "Players can also earn [looting boxes] through playing the game and not spending any money at all."
This hasn't stopped Peter Naessens, general director of the Belgian Gaming Commission, from announcing that the regulator is looking into whether or not loot boxes constitute as gambling. The regulator announced that it is looking into both Battlefront 2 and Overwatch.
At the heart of the matter is the fact that on top of paying $60 for the new Battlefront 2 game, players will have to invest hours and hours of personal time, and maybe even money to unlock all the content available in the game. Battlefront 2 differs from Overwatch in that instead of just offering cosmetic items like the Blizzard shooter, Battlefront 2 offers Star Cards which impact stats in competitive multiplayers. Something players allege create a pay to win environment where competitors can buy their way to the best stats and classes.
Fans have begun circulating figures saying that it could take six years playing two hours a day in order to unlock all the content in Battlefront 2. Something EA has also denied. However, EA did respond by lowering the cost of unlocking certain heroes from 60,000 in-game credits to 15,000.
EA and Battlefront 2 have become the public face of the debate surrounding loot boxes. UK and US video game advisory boards have already said that loot boxes aren't gambling, but the gaming community isn't placated. Public demands have been issued asking government bodies to investigate loot boxes and pass laws to stymie their increased appearance in triple-A video games.
Overwatch was recently affected by a law in China that forced games to reveal the percentage rates for item drops in loot crates. Blizzard worked around this by offering free loot boxes in exchange for players purchasing in-game currency using real money.