With Star Wars Battlefront 2 coming out…
A lot of people are (and, superficially/genuinely, rightfully so) complaining about the game being yet another micro-transaction lootbox game with a Pay-2-Win business model.
Yes, at surface level, this really sucks– why couldn’t they just have made lootboxes contain cosmetic items? A solid Star Wars game with a buttload of customization options would have made a ton of money!
Anyway, there’s no changing that now, EA will be EA. I’m not telling you to stop complaining. Don’t stop fighting it. But here’s why you should secretly not let it affect you, because it doesn’t really matter.
Matchmaking is not skill based.
In games with a pay-2-win model, matchmaking is no longer skill based. (Extremely simplified, ignoring things such as locale, network connection, etc)
Regular game formula: Rank = Actual skill.
Star Wars Battlefront 2: Rank = Actual skill + time played + money spent + luck.
Time played: There will be limitations on what users can even equip– they’ll have to play enough to be able to use certain things. Also, you can buy lootboxes with in-game currency– just much slower than spending your real dollars.
Money spent: Spending real money earns you more chances for better, stronger items.
Luck: Opening lootboxes is based on chance. You’re at the will of RNG.
Actual skill: Skill is still a factor, you need to be able to use those earned/bought weapons.
These better items, weapons, and abilities will make a player ‘stronger’, thus raising their hidden MMR, or Rank.
The above graph is an extremely simplified representation of what Battlefront 2’s userbase might look like. As you can see, the “Actual skill” does not line up with the rank in a linear fashion as a normal game would.
Let’s focus on two of those players:
Above shows two players of equal actual skill, but Player A spent $200, and Player B spent $0. Player A would theoretically be a higher rank than Player B, since he simply has better weapons & abilities from all that money he spent on new stuff.
Above’s an example where Player A, a noob who spent A TON of money on the game, is compared against Player B, a skilled player who spent NOTHING.
They could theoretically be found at the same rank. Imagine a noob with an amazing one shot kill machine gun. He’d miss all of his shots, but he’d land a few and be pretty effective. Now imagine a skilled player with a barebones pistol type weapon. He’d probably get as many kills as the noob with an OP weapon. Thus, they’re performing at an equal rate.
Wait, that seems awfully unfair– why do you tell me it doesn’t affect me?
When rank is hidden, who cares? You can clearly see that a noob spent his life-savings on getting that shiny new weapon, and guess what, your challenge is to grind him in to the dirt, regardless of his advantage against you. The point of matchmaking is to try its best to make the match as close as possible. It doesn’t discriminate against you. It simply checks performance and ranks you accordingly.
But what if I go against someone who’s better than me AND he has better weapons?
That’s unlikely. You will be put against people that have similar performance levels at their current state. If someone has an ultra-powerful flamethrower weapon and is rank 500, and you are rank 500 with your standard assault rifle, you’re both at the same ‘performance level’, but for different reasons. His gear is stronger, but you’re more skilled.
The only time an imbalance will occur is directly after money is spent or lootboxes are opened. Getting a new strong weapon or ability would theoretically make a player stronger than their current rank, probably making them go on a small winstreak until they reach their new rank.
What’s the point in buying lootboxes then?
There really is none. Buy none and be proud of your skill level. If you do buy a lootbox and get strong weapons, you’ll probably enjoy a short win-streak until you’re matched with other people who have strong weapons (or pros who didn’t spend money).
If you get into a habit of spending more money to essentially become more powerful, eventually you’ll just end up getting matched with other people who also spent a lot of money. What’s the fucking point?
What about ranked?
Pay-to-win has zero business being in a ranked/competitive game. My mental stance on this stuff is only for unranked. But in a game where rank is clearly visible as a gauge of your performance, pay-to-win needs to go.
Unranked Pay-2-Win: Who cares! Have fun.
Ranked Pay-2-Win: Fuck Pay-2-Win.