Battlefield Play 4 Free Angers Its Paying Customers

Maintaining balance in a free-to-play game is no easy task. The free-to-play sales pitch goes something like this: "You can play the entire game, see every map, and get every upgrade without paying a cent." The truth of the matter is a bit more complicated: "You can see every map and get every upgrade sooner if you pay."

Last month, EA's "EAsy" division, which runs the free-to-play Battlefield Play 4 Free, elected to lower the damage of paid in-game weapon add-ons in the interest of balancing the game. Users were justifiably angry that the in-game items they had paid for had been taken away, particularly as they were offered no refund.

EAsy explained their actions in a December 20th post on the game's official forums (The linked-to thread is the original thread and has now been closed to further discussion. A new thread has been opened here):

At the start of this month, we released weapon customisation, an update that gave players the ability to personalise their arsenal as they saw fit. During this update we removed all "Elite" and "Veteran" primary weapons and in their place owners of these weapons were given new weapon attachments named "Legacy" items, that they could add to their guns.

As some of you may have already noticed, these "Legacy" items have made these weapons too powerful, significantly affecting the balance of the game which we did not foresee. So in an effort to restore balance and an enjoyable experience for everyone, we are eliminating all "Legacy" attachments and removing them from the game.

Existing owners of "Elite" and "Veteran" weapons (a.k.a "Legacy" attachment owners) will still get something in return, as we will replace your existing base weapons with new, unique, "+3" versions. These "+3" weapons are more powerful versions of the current base weapons with slightly increased stats and can still be upgraded with the full catalogue of customisation items.

We value our community and your experience with the game is our top priority. We know it's not fun to feel like you can't win, and we know it's not fun to feel like there's no challenge. We've taken these steps to help ensure that we are delivering the most enjoyable gaming experience possible.

After that post, the forum erupted; it closed at 319 pages of upset posts. To purchase weapon add-ons, users must convert real dollars into "Battlefunds," which are in turn used to unlock weapon and kit upgrades in both Battlefield Play 4 Free and Battlefield Heroes. 700 Battlefunds costs $US4.99, and pricing for items runs from under 100 Battlefunds to a few thousand, depending on the item in question. According to the official Battlefunds info page, "Battlefunds have no monetary value and do not constitute currency or property of any type."

In an email to Kotaku, a member of the game's community laid out the gist of the user complaints:

While it is understood that online games have specific Terms of Service agreements and the users are bound to the verbiage outlined within, EAsy has taken to very distastefully methods in taking the gaming public's money and offering a sub-par product in return. While much talk of litigation of some form or another also rages on, there is still no clear cut explanation as to the legality of EAsy's action in this instance.

That said, this is a stain on the bigger shoulders of EA, and I don't believe it is one that they care about at this point. This seems to be very similar to the issues that arose when Battlefield: Heroes was vastly altered and outrage at the changes flooded the forums.

He is referring to the similar changes that were made to another of EA's free-to-play Battlefield games, Battlefield Heroes. As our own Luke Plunkett reported back in December 2009, the publisher made sweeping changes to the Battlefield Heroes online store and in doing so risked ruining the game.

Today, representative VitalBullet (the EAsy spokesperson who posted the initial forum post) posted an official response, announcing some changes to the +3 weapons in reaction to fan discontent. That response is as follows:

As you all know, we recently removed "Legacy" attachments from Battlefield Play4Free as a way to introduce a better level of balance in the game. We appreciate all the feedback that you've been giving our team since this change and we assure you, this was a tough decision and not an easy one to make. That being said, we believe that it will deliver the most fun and enjoyable gaming experience to all players and as such these changes will remain.

In the spirit of continually improving Battlefield Play4Free, we are listening to your feedback and responding. Over the next few weeks, we will be implementing several community requested changes to the "+3" weapons:

Damage will be increased across all ranges of +3 weapons

(Currently +3 weapons do 2 additional base (body) damage over all ranges compared to their non +3 counterpart. This will be increased to 3 addition points of damage)

Base ammo count will be increased across all +3 weapons

(This will vary depending on the weapon and the weapon type)

In addition, we will be making some changes to currently imbalanced boosters (for example, the Mortar Strike and RPG Boosters).

Some users are still unhappy. In an FAQ at the bottom of the above-linked post, they have clearly informed that there will be no refunds for purchased weapons as per the Battlefield Digital Services Agreement. Some users claim that the accuracy of the +3 weapons is a bigger problem than the now-increased damage. User EgoPrimez writes, "With this move you are admiting that you consciously planed campain of false advertising of your products with goal to rob customers." User Shafa asks, "What can I do with this if I cant hit anyone?"

When it comes down to it, most users simply feel that they paid for something and then had it taken away with no warning. As user Septuagint puts it, "If someone steals 100.00 dollars from you and offers to give back 20.00... Would u be happy?"

When contacted for comment, an EA representative directed us to the updated, closed forum thread and its included FAQ. Kotaku will be following this story and will update with any new developments.


Comments

    Ha-Ha, now GTFO!

    It's EA. Is anyone really surprised?

      ^ This, and my bet is that they're all still plaing it. What people need to realise is; if you eat shit, they will feed you shit, and this applies to all facets of the gaming world, F2P and MMO releases especially.

    Maybe I don't understand the game, but I don't see the problem with what EA did.

      Basically, some players paid money to unlock high damage over powered weapons (paying to win) and are now complaining that those weapons got balanced against non-paid unlock weapons.

      All they did wrong was that they sold power to start with instead of convenience. When they realized the damage this was having on the game they tried to rectify it.

      Yet to the community they haven't taken adequate steps to recompense them for the money they had invested in the title.

      So like gamers do they are complaining.

      Personally i feel that while EA have probably handled this poorly, taking action to rectify the problems that selling power caused in their games. Instead of just saying screw it and perpetuating the system, milking those who are willing to pay of as much money as they can until they destroy the community completely. Should be seen as a good thing, yes they should have come up with a better way to compensate the paying customers

      Whether that be to give them some equivalent Battlefunds based on what they owned at the time. And adding some shiny new skins. Or giving them a legacy camo uniform or something.

    And this is why F2P PVP is bullshit in the first place. People only pay for an advantage, and any advantage offered to paid players makes the game imbalanced and therefore less fun for free users.

    I dislike the fact that these paid players are mad about losing their OP weapons/attachments, but at the same time I can appreciate why they feel ripped off. If I go and lay down the money for a new Porsche, I don't want to wake up the next morning and find a Datsun in my garage because the car dealership was worried about my car being the nicest in the neighbourhood.

      Not really it's just another example of F2P done wrong.

      No one would be playing either game if they were P2P, Because they definetly don't deserve an ongoing sub.

      As for making them B2P(Buy2Play). It produces a hurdle that could well cripple the community of some F2P titles. I mean hell last i checked LoL was doing just fine with a F2P model.

      ---

      What F2P titles with cash shops should offer is shortcuts. If you don't want to spend the 80 hours it takes to unlock the best sniper rifle in whatever game you can pay an amount of money that will allow you to skip that work.

      It provides you no ingame advantage over anyone who hasn't/can't/won't invest in the game. While allowing the user to decide if they value the amount of time it would take them to achieve the desired outcome with respect to the price in the store.

      Since not everyone has as much free time as a 14 year old with no obligations, who can burn 80 hours in a single week to get that piece of equipment.

    There is an obvious case for refund here. EA shouldn't have sold power, but they did. To take items away now without refunding the purchase is pretty questionable.

    This sort of behaviour is exactly why I won't use origin (that and I lost all my ME2 dlc because their account system sucks - i was never able to get that back eithee).

      If they do offer refunds it will only be in Battlefund Points, Not Cash.

        That sounds like an ideal solution. Give refunds in points. These pay-to-winners will see value in what is now available in the store and may buy more in the future.

    If EA approached in a completely different way, the players probably wouldn't have even noticed, or cared. You see it on almost any gaming forum in the world ever.
    As soon as the players see a negative, they just jump on it and milk it for all its worth.

    Items that boost paying players is stupid to begin with and they shouldn't have introduced it to start off with. But at least EA can regonise it's a flaw, are looking forward and am trying to change it.

    Gamers are stupid, even if they gave them refunds, these guys would just spend the money on the items again.

    It's also a GLOBAL change anyway, everyone is effected..so they're still going to have an advantage.

    And this is why i stopped playing fps games online.
    The whole idea of having to level up and unlock stuff.
    All it provides is a way with which people can gain an advantage over newer players or players with less time to play.

    Funny as F**k to see those same people who dont mind THAT advantage over weapons loadouts etc whining about this one.....

    Get rid of levelling to unlock gear and i may one day return to online fps, till then, trolololol....

      I absolutely agree with you on this I can't understand why developers insist on making this a feature in FPS games. If they really want to include upgrades/unlocks make it per game as it was in the old Wolf: ET.

        Blame Call of Duty 4 - once they did it there EVERYBODY started doing it!

    I have a few questions

    Why are there 2 F2P Battlefields? (Heroes and Play4Free)

    Can't tell how many times they inundated my inbox for invitations to the P4F beta but geez just play BF3 or Bad Company 2 already people!

    What people must realize is that customers are mad because EAsy lied. They took away a product people paid for (so-called legacy attachments) calling them 'unfair' but EAsy still rents out gun attachments in the store which apparently is not 'unfair'. Why did EAsy not simply just take away legacy attachments and replace them with attachments they have in the store? Why did they take the customers attacments away COMPLETELY? We should all know the answer. MONEY. Even now on the home page they are advertising rentable 'apparently fair' attachments half price for $17.00. This is why all the anger. Because of a lie and thus a scam for more profit. Even battlefield heroes never took what you paid for away completely.

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