As many of you might already know, there’s been a lot of hate from a vocal portion of the Star Wars community regarding the Star Wars Battlefront II Progression System. Many feel it’s a “Pay to Progress” system, meanwhile others don’t seem to be bothered by it. However, let’s face it, EA is a big company meaning that they have most likely conducted a strong market study in order to decide how the game’s meant to generate money.
Many of us aren’t well-informed about how these strategies and studies work, but Reddit user Feminymphist, who has worked on electronic media PR, has decided to shine some light on what EA’s PR strategy is regarding all the outrage:
Here is some information. Make whatever decisions you want with it.
EA spends tens of thousands of man-hours focus testing and doing market research on the optimum way to wring money out of your wallet. This means that one or two days (or weeks or months) of complaining will not get them to change their mind regarding the nature of the progression system. They will not truly “fix” it because they believe that it’s working as intended and their accountants and marketing guys will tell them that it is. A certain amount of players are supposed to get sick of it and stop playing. That’s built-in to the calculations, like when Wal-Mart assumes that there will be a certain amount of shoplifting.
That said, they understand that they have a clusterfuck on their hands, so since they are not interested in fixing it, they are going to use a technique referred to as “making the outrage outdated.” This was very clearly what they did with the beta. The beta had a great deal of backlash and instead of fixing anything, they “made changes.” The effect of these changes were negligible but it didn’t matter because all the articles written about the flaws of the beta and the complaints by users became outdated and replaced by articles and comments about how they were making “changes.” This allows them to control the narrative of their product without actually losing any money or making significant changes. The fact that the changes didn’t help and potentially made the game worse didn’t matter.
(Ubisoft did this in a much more elegant way with Assassin’s Creed: Origins by the way – they prevented you from buying loot boxes with real money, knowing there would be a backlash, instead allowing you to purchase the currency needed for loot boxes with real money. The ONLY things that accomplished was allowing them to do interviews saying that you couldn’t buy loot boxes with real money during pre-release and make people who wanted to use real money for loot boxes have to click two extra buttons. They didn’t have to make the outrage outdated because they controlled the narrative from the jump.)
The reason this works is two-fold: 1. Journalists who cover the initial outrage feel that, ethically, they have to post the follow up but probably aren’t going to do the research to figure out if the changes are substantial or effective at fixing the actual issue. (Edit: I’ve started seeing articles pop up already about the “changes” and at best, all they do is parrot the good research that various Redditors have done.) 2. Loyal fans who get fed up with it and decide not to buy the game are desperately searching for a reason to forgive EA so they can play their neato shooty game so they’ll take any crumbs they are given.
Accordingly, I will guarantee this: They will “make changes” with a day 1 patch. That much is obvious, but specifically, the changes they make will be based around reducing the cost of heroes and loot boxes. Sounds good, right? Well, maybe. The actual reason why they’re going to reduce it is because right now the complaints are that progression takes “too” long – specifically about 40 hours to unlock heroes. They will change it, negligibly, so that the story becomes “We fixed the 40 hour hero requirement!” Of course, the change will make it so that still takes about 37 hours (I’m obviously just making up a number here, but the point is that it’s still an absurd requirement), but that will be lost in the news cycle of them “making changes.”
And of course, inexplicably, forums will be filled with people who for whatever reason are desperate to point out that your outrage is outdated. You’ll say “It takes too long to unlock heroes” and they’ll pop up to tell you and everyone else that EA “made changes” to that. Complain about loot box percentages? They “made changes!” What changes? Who gives a fuck. Changes!!!! Every complaint you have will be met with someone who wants to tell you that the reason you have for being upset is outdated.
This is a very common strategy used for scandals that are linked directly to financials – they will fuck you a little less than you expected and hope that you don’t do the math on just how much less it is. All the while they will take advantage of the PR resulting from the reduced fucking.
Edit: To clarify, you shouldn’t feel like EA is “ignoring” you. They aren’t. It’s actually worse than them ignoring you. They have people pouring over these forums (And twitter, more importantly) trying to get a general idea of the negative sentiment. They will then try to quantify that negative sentiment and add it to the previous years of focus testing and market research they’ve done. The previous focus tests told them the the most financially viable thing to do would be to make the game as it is now, and they will add the current negative sentiment to that formula and come up with something like “reduce microtransaction costs by 1.5%” (Rounded up to the nearest 5 or 9 or 10, again, based on what focus testing tells them is most pleasing to the customer. They also will likely increase progression rather than decrease microctransaction prices to avoid alienating people who bought the microtransactions at the original price – of course, increasing progression speed and decreasing the cost are exactly the same thing, financially.)
Have fun playing!!!
So there you have it. Quite an interesting piece explaining what to expect from EA. What are your thoughts regarding this situation?