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Battlefield 5 seems to be handling monetization right, for now

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The question is whether it will impact sales

Key art of a British Churchill tank in Battlefield 5 EA DICE/Electronic Arts

Yesterday’s live reveal of Battlefield 5 was short on game footage, but it did show EA and DICE’s desire to give fans what they want in the game. Or rather, in this case, to get rid of what they don’t want: season passes and loot boxes.

“I get the fun part of not taking any more of your money as well, but no, there’s no more Premium Pass in this game, this means ...” Ryan McArthur, senior development director at DICE, said before being cut off by the applause in the audience. “Thank you — it’s the least I can do,” he continued.

The Premium Pass is gone, and that means everyone who buys the game will get all the post-release content without having to pay extra for it.

“This is something the team has asked for, this is something the team really believes in, so what we want is a game where people stay together, they play the games together and they get to go on this journey through World War II together,” McArthur explained. The community won’t be split between those who pay for the new content and those who don’t.

Loot boxes are also gone, although the game will offer an impressive number of customization options for each player’s soldiers. During the live reveal it was stated that players will be able to unlock these options by playing the game, not by buying them, although the door is still open for some kind of microtransaction to sneak into the final game. But the big stuff that players complain about in terms of pay-to-win and randomized loot boxes? It’s all gone.

Questions remain

The conversation on Reddit about the lack of a season pass includes the assumption that some form of cosmetic options will be sold for real money.

“I distinctly heard them say it will not be pay to win and that equipment was unlockable through game progression,” one commenter wrote. “I am fine with cosmetic loot boxes if it means we get free DLC content, and we will. Let the whales and kids with their parent’s credit cards blow thousands on cosmetics no one will care about but them.”

This is the line that EA and DICE are going to have to walk leading up to the game’s launch. The lack of the Premium Pass and the promise to give every player every map is going to earn them some goodwill, but it’s unlikely that EA is willing to give up on all the money to be made by selling in-game items in some way.

It’s also likely that EA and DICE are treading this line very carefully after the Battlefront 2 debacle, and may err on the side of caution for Battlefield 5 to try to get back into the good graces of fans.

This doesn’t mean that there aren’t ways to get players interested in the deluxe edition of the game, which is $79.99 instead of the standard edition’s $59.99 cost. Since cosmetics and unlocks are controlled by the player doing specific missions, the more expensive version of the game just gives you more missions to work on, as well as weekly “airlifts” that contain at least one cosmetic item. You’ll also unlock Battlefield 1 items at launch, which may or may not give you an advantage in battle, depending on their stats. Some of these bonuses will also be available if you pre-order the standard copy of the game.

Battlefield 5 chart breaking down the various pre-order bonuses
Pay more, get more
EA DICE/Electronic Arts

EA and DICE are making all the right moves to get people excited about the game without getting their guard up about loot boxes or season passes, but the game isn’t launching until Oct. 19. There’s still plenty of time to release more information about what will and won’t be sold through the game, and in fact, we’ve contacted EA trying to get clarification on that issue. We’ll let you know when we hear back.

The Battlefield subreddit, on the other hand, seems to be melting down over the lack of “realism” in the trailer. Go figure.

But the online chatter around the monetization issue seems to be cautiously optimistic, and EA and DICE would do well to keep that mood going in the months before launch. They also can’t wait until the first day to say that some things in the game will be available via real-money purchases. Everyone is waiting for the other shoe to drop, but Battlefield 5 has already changed the conversation to something a bit more hopeful with these announcements.

Battlefield 5 is expected to launch simultaneously on PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One. An early trial of the game will be available to Origin and EA Access members on Oct. 11. The deluxe edition of the game will unlock on Oct. 16, with the standard edition coming out on Oct. 19.