EA has switched off Star Wars Battlefront 2's microtransactions following the intense fan furore over their implementation into the game.
The ability to buy loot boxes with real-world money disappeared from the Origin, PlayStation and Microsoft stores in the early hours of this morning. Shortly thereafter, EA released this statement from DICE boss Oskar Gabrielson:
"Thank you to everyone in our community for being the passionate fans that you are.
"Our goal has always been to create the best possible game for all of you - devoted Star Wars fans and game players alike. We've also had an ongoing commitment to constantly listen, tune and evolve the experience as it grows. You've seen this with both the major adjustments, and polish, we have made over the past several weeks.
"But as we approach the worldwide launch, it's clear that many of you feel there are still challenges in the design. We've heard the concerns about potentially giving players unfair advantages. And we've heard that this is overshadowing an otherwise great game. This was never our intention. Sorry we didn't get this right.
"We hear you loud and clear, so we're turning off all in-game purchases. We will now spend more time listening, adjusting, balancing and tuning. This means that the option to purchase crystals in the game is now offline, and all progression will be earned through gameplay. The ability to purchase crystals in-game will become available at a later date, only after we've made changes to the game. We'll share more details as we work through this.
"We have created a game that is built on your input, and it will continue to evolve and grow. Star Wars Battlefront 2 is three times the size of the previous game, bringing to life a brand new Star Wars story, space battles, epic new multiplayer experiences across all three Star Wars eras, with more free content to come. We want you to enjoy it, so please keep your thoughts coming. And we will keep you updated on our progress."
There's no word yet on when loot crates will return.
According to Venturebeat sources, Disney boss Bob Iger phoned EA boss Andrew Wilson shortly before the U-turn was announced to discuss Star Wars Battlefront 2. Oh, to be a fly on the wall of that conversation.
This week has seen Battlefront 2 - and the entire Star Wars brand - dragged into primetime by news stories on its controversial loot crates featured on the front pages of BBC and CNN. While it's nice to think Disney care about the manner in which Battlefront 2's progression gameplay was affected by crates, it feels more likely this firestorm of bad PR forced the change.
We've been tracking the discussion - and EA's attempts to tweak Battlefront's progression - as it has built over the past couple of months. Battlefront 2's progression system - indelibly tied to the opening of loot crates - was widely identified as a problem back during the game's press preview and public beta phase. EA said we'd not seen the final version of it and promptly released some tweaks concerning the rarity of cards available in crates, among other things.
But the problem of having a loot crate system determining your progression and performance in matches remained. EA was forced to try and further dampen the flames. But it didn't work - early access to Battlefront 2's final version showed, unsurprisingly, this integral part of the game had not been dramatically altered. As general release neared, fan forums and reddit made their voices heard - specifically around the costs of unlocking heroes. EA slashed the cost of characters such as Darth Vader in response - but the feeling the game was panhandling players had stuck, and Battlefront had caught the attention of mainstream press. This week brought a reddit AMA which did nothing to quell the community's fears and then word various Gambling Commissions around Europe had decided to take an interest.
Battlefront 2 officially launches today.