Star Wars Battlefront II was the hottest mess of 2017. Not because of the game's quality, but because of the controversy that swallowed it up. The controversy around its lootboxes.
Lootboxes were nothing new when Star Wars Battlefront II released, but the title from EA took the discussion of lootboxes to the national level. Spurred by the controversy lawmakers and the U.S. Government began to step in, proposing regulation and new guidelines, and encouraging the industry's regulatory arm, the ESRB, to handle the situation. It was a mess, and what ultimately defined Star Wars Battlefront II, not the actual content of the game.
That said, EA's new Chief Design Officer has vowed to “be better,” and has said that the company has learned from the mistakes of the game.
Said CDO, Patrick Söderlund, who was previously head of worldwide studios at EA until a recent hierarchy reshuffle this week, told The Verge that the game's loot box implementation “had an effect on EA as a company” and an effect on the management team. Further, it is determined to avoid the same pitfalls with its upcoming multiplayer releases: the next Battlefield game and BioWare's Anthem.
“We have taken significant steps as a company to review and understand the mechanics around monetization, loot boxes, and other things in our games before they go to market,” said Söderlund. “For games that come next, for Battlefield or for Anthem, [players have] made it very clear that we can’t afford to make similar mistakes. And we won’t.”
Söderlund added that there was no ill intentions behind the loot box and player progression system in Battlefront II, rather it just wanted to create a system that would encourage more people to play long after release, and like other games on the market, in order to do be able to afford doing that, it believed it needed to start getting returns.
The executive continues:
"But at the same time, we got it wrong. And as a result, we had to take very quick and drastic actions to turn everything off, and we’ve since worked and redesigned the progression system. People seem to appreciate what we’ve done, players are coming back, and we’re seeing stronger engagement numbers. People seem to think that for the most part, we got it right...we’ll have to be very cautious with what this means for future products.”2comments
In the wake of Battlefront II, it will be interesting to see how EA handles the player progression systems in the aforementioned titles. A lot of people will be watching, that's for sure.