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Following backlash, EA puts Battlefield 2042 Santa skin back in the sack

santa skin for battlefield 2042
(Image credit: EA)
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Battlefield 2042 has had a rough reception: Disappointment over design changes and technical issues have led to reams of negative player reviews. Amid all that, a leak yesterday revealed a Santa Claus skin that was planned for the game's next big update, and it didn't go down well. Now it seems that Santa Claus is no longer coming to town, with DICE saying that it has "no plans to utilize all the skins this holiday."

The planned update was first revealed via the Battlefield Bulletin Twitter, with other images in the post also showing reindeer-themed tanks and helicopters.

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Some players weren't happy, with one of the more upvoted comments on Reddit encapsulating the feeling in the community:

"Dice expects me to be able to take the game seriously with literal santa claus running around shooting people in what's supposed to be a world where billions are displaced, natural disasters are destroying the planet, and there's about to be a massive world proxy war—and we're supposed to take all that into account with santa fucking claus running around on the battlefield.

Holy identity crisis."

Other comments complained that the game was desperately trying to mimic Call of Duty, while one MrHuk said, "We lost classes so they could sell skins for these ridiculous operators."

The reactions to the skin reveal a couple of sticking points. First are technical issues, particularly its CPU dependency, and the idea that the developers are working on skins didn't sit well.

Secondly, the Santa skin is seen to represent the overly lighthearted demeanour of the game's operators, which some players complain is dissonant with its themes of global conflict, eco-disasters and failed states (as summed up quite amusingly in this Reddit post). A counterpoint is that, even when it takes place during historical wars, Battlefield has never been particularly serious.

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DICE acknowledged the complaints on Twitter, saying that they "work months in advance" to support a live service game like Battlefield 2042, suggesting that these skins have been ready for a while. The developer also said that it will sometimes "create unique cosmetics for single time use" in Portal, the custom mode section of Battlefield 2042 where goofier game types are possible.

Yesterday, EA announced that under new Battlefield overseer, Respawn co-founder Vince Zampella, the series is growing out into a 'Battlefield universe', and that a new Seattle studio will be "expanding the narrative, storytelling, and character development opportunities in the Battlefield series". Talking long-term visions doesn't seem terribly advisable when the current game is going through something of a crisis, but I imagine it won't be long before the internet lets us know what it thinks.