Star Wars Battlefront 2 Taught EA A Lesson It Says It Won't Forget
"We can act responsibly and realize that we made some mistakes and try to rectify those mistakes and learn from them."
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Star Wars Battlefront II's loot box controversy undoubtedly stole the game's thunder when it released on PC, PS4, and Xbox One last November. After pre-release gameplay revealed the game was essentially "pay-to-play" thanks to the way the progression system worked, EA pulled in-game transactions altogether. Now Patrick Söderlund, EA's former head of worldwide studios who was just appointed chief design officer in an internal shakeup, is speaking out about the fiasco and the company's next steps.
"I'd be lying to you if I said that what’s happened with Battlefront and what’s happened with everything surrounding loot boxes and these things haven’t had an effect on EA as a company and an effect on us as management," Söderlund told The Verge. "We can shy away from it and pretend like it didn't happen, or we can act responsibly and realize that we made some mistakes, and try to rectify those mistakes and learn from them."
Earlier this year, EA revealed that Battlefront II had failed to meet sales targets, which the company blamed on the microtransaction controversy that plagued its launch. EA has maintained its insistence that it will make good with the game. Later this week, Battlefront II will get an update that brings microtransactions back to the game, but for cosmetic items only. Söderlund feels the game has now turned a corner.
"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. It doesn't mean we will stop. We'll continue to improve the game, we'll continue to push on these things, and we'll have to be very cautious with what this means for future products," he said.
EA has some large releases in its future, with the next Battlefield title in the cards and the Destiny-esque action game Anthem due out next year. Söderlund says the company has done its homework, this time around.
"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. 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."