While Reddit sometimes overstates its value as a space for authentic conversations online, the massive community-driven website has served as a kind of town hall where everyone from everyone from Elon Musk and Barack Obama to a dildo manufacturer have responded to questions from completely un-vetted strangers. Sometimes it goes well. For Electronic Arts, the new owner of the most hated comment in Reddit’s history, not so much.
The subject of Reddit’s ire was the upcoming EA game Star Wars Battlefront 2. More specifically, the realization that many of the franchise’s most memorable characters wouldn’t be playable in the game from the get-go. To unlock them, players will need to spend in-game currency earned from hours of play. In the case of Darth Vader, the price tag is 60,000 credits, which requires around a 40-hour investment, according to player estimates. (Spending real-world money, which cannot be directly converted to credits, provides only a “round-about way” of unlocking the characters.)
EA’s response on a thread criticizing the system was typical of a spokesperson, and generally individuals and companies using Reddit for purposes deemed overtly self-promotional or dishonest are met with hostility. From Reddit:
The intent is to provide players with a sense of pride and accomplishment for unlocking different heroes.
As for cost, we selected initial values based upon data from the Open Beta and other adjustments made to milestone rewards before launch. Among other things, we’re looking at average per-player credit earn rates on a daily basis, and we’ll be making constant adjustments to ensure that players have challenges that are compelling, rewarding, and of course attainable via gameplay.
We appreciate the candid feedback, and the passion the community has put forth around the current topics here on Reddit, our forums and across numerous social media outlets.
Our team will continue to make changes and monitor community feedback and update everyone as soon and as often as we can.
“I wonder if Burger King wants to sell me a sense of pride and accomplishment by making me work 10 hours for my fucking fries,” one Redditor quipped in response.
It’s unclear what, exactly, about EA’s comment prompted the unprecedented negative reaction, but a since-deleted tweet from a member of Battlefront 2's community engagement team may have added fuel to the fire. The tweet stated: “The arm chair developers on this internet.”
For a couple years, the subreddit r/ListOfComments has been cataloging the site’s most disliked comments, which are calculated by subtracting disapproving downvote reactions from positive upvotes. Looking back on previous title-holders for Worst Comment, there’s the time Reddit’s CEO admitted to clandestinely editing user comments (11,537 net downvotes) and the one where Jill Stein sounded off on nuclear energy (11,996 net downvotes). EA’s comment eclipses these by a mile with 263,000 net downvotes and counting, likely more people than are currently running the open beta of Star Wars Battlefront 2.
EA has a history of making user-hostile decisions, and gaming and Star Wars fans are famously outspoken. It’s almost surprising it took this long to come to a head.
Update 11/13/17 2:22pm ET: Not only is EA’s comment nearing 400,000 downvotes, but it appears to have broken the voting UI on mobile for some users, who are reporting that the upvote button is now cut off. Presumably the designers of Reddit never expected a comment’s total rank to run into six digits.
Update 11/13/17 4:54pm ET: According to a post from EA, “we’re reducing the amount of credits needed to unlock the top heroes by 75%.” Take away from that what you will.