Head Shots

EA is finding new uses for Battlefront's season pass

DICE
Star Wars: Battlefront 2 DICE
Star Wars: Battlefront 2

EA must have realised that anyone buying their Battlefront reboot at this point is probably doing so by accident, so they are giving the game's mess of a scam season pass away for free. Even if you don't own Battlefront apparently.

EA have achieved a minor marketing/advertising miracle with their 2015 Star Wars: Battlefront reboot. The game launched shortly before The Force Awakens hit theatres, was eagerly awaited by fans of the series ever since Battlefront 3 got cancelled, and had DICE's reputation as a seasoned shooter developer going for it as well. From EA's perspective this is as close as they will ever get to Easy Mode with any of their releases outside of their licenced sports franchises.

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Star Wars: Battlefront promptly broke some sales records riding on a tidal wave of hype, but customers soon realised that what they got was a weak Battlefield re-skin desperately in need of more content. EA had of course planned ahead and had a season pass scheme set up as a contingency. The scam backfired a little, so the developer and publisher were stuck with a fractured playerbase and little motivation to fix the issue, probably because they were hoping to sell a few more season passes and/or DLC packs, rather than hold up their end of the games-as-service bargain.

Realising that sales probably won't be getting any better, and hoping for another free publicity pass, Battlefront was free for a EA and Origin Access subscribers back in December, just in time for the release of Rogue One.

Star Wars has been a mess of merchandising and cross-promotion ever since George Lucas decided that he would rather be selling toys than making movies, so it isn't entirely clear which product is supposed to help promote which Star Wars product. Either way, some players got a free Battlefront game, but the convoluted DLC scheme remained in place.

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EA is by now probably aware that they can only squeeze more negative press out of the first Battlefront, and with another Star Wars movie and Battlefront 2 releasing in a short while, it is now time to act all generous and a tad repentant with their DLC cash cow by giving it away for free. Just the milky creamy DLC, not the cow.

All of the lucky EA and Origin Access subscribers who got a glorified beta of a game for free last year can now complete the package with all four of Battlefield's DLC packs, alongside anyone else who would want to have it in their library, whether they own the base game or not. The publisher could have offered up the DLC for free sooner, if they were really more concerned with the coherency of their playerbase, but they didn't because inconveniencing players is a great way to make more money.This means that EA has most likely given up on delusions of being able to sell more of the accursed things, especially since they are going to abandon the practise entirely for the sequel.

Leasson learned? Unlikely. The publisher must have found some other way of milking the game post launch, so you can probably expect some sort of lootbox system and more cosmetics than anyone would know what to do with.

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I bet a lot of the people who paid for the season pass or pre-ordered the first Battlefront feel really well about their purchase by now.

Making the DLC free so close to the release of Battlefront 2 and doing so even for players who don't own the base game is as hard as anyone can squeeze a franchise and comfortably get away with it. On one side, it provides some free exposure for an upcoming product while at the same time appearing benevolent, and on the other side it opens up the possibility of a few deluded souls coughing up some cash for what meagre drops are still being secreted by EA's cash cow of yesteryear.

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The Star Wars licence is as close to a licence to print money anyone can hope for, and it ending up in the hands of EA means we have many years ahead of us with ample opportunity to discover what new ways of pulling a fast one the publisher might come up with. The next season of hyped and shady is coming our way 17 November 2017.