Battlefront II Was A Great Game Clouded In Controversy, EA CEO Says

DICE’s Star Wars: Battlefront II is a «great game» that was «clouded» by the controversy surrounding its microtransactions. That’s according to EA CEO Andrew Wilson. He acknowledged on an earnings call today that the 2017 sci-fi shooter had problems surrounding its microtransactions, but following their removal and DICE’s ongoing effort to support and improve the title, it’s in a much better place now.

«Battlefront II, on balance-and it’s kind of hard to see through the mist of this-but on balance, Battlefront II was a great game,» Wilson said. «We made some missteps in the context of progression and monetisation which actually clouded what was otherwise a really great game. With the ongoing commitment that the studio has had with the player community, it’s now a really strong game with really strong player sentiment, and we expect that will continue to do well. We should have had that done at launch but we are a learning organisation, and we’ve continued to support that community.»

Battlefront II found itself in controversy when early access players discovered that the game’s loot boxes, which could be acquired with real money, contained items that might affect gameplay. Some argued that this bordered on «pay-to-win,» and in response, EA swiftly removed all microtransactions from the game before its public release. Microtransactions eventually returned to Battlefront II but only in the form of cosmetics like those found in Fortnite that do not impact gameplay.

Battlefront II became the poster child for what could go wrong with loot boxes. Politicians and trade groups used Battlefront II as an example to push for anti-loot box legislation.

Also during the call, Wilson spoke about how EA is undertaking measures to allow for greater transparency and communication between EA and players about upcoming titles in an attempt to avoid problematic issues.

«Our entire marketing organisation is now moving out of presentation mode and into conversation mode, and changing how we communicate with players over time,» he said. «So that the day we bring truly a global audience into play, we have strong confidence that 1) the game is ready; 2) that the infrastructure can handle the game at scale; and 3) that our players understand exactly what they’re going to be playing and how they’re going to be playing, both on the day of launch and over time.»

Battlefront II shipped 9 million copies during its launch quarter, which was 1 million off EA’s expectations; it was also down from the 13 million launch-quarter copies that the 2015 Battlefront shipped out of the gate. Whatever the case, sales of Battlefront II have no doubt improved over time, while extra revenue from the game’s microtransactions has helped boost its profitability.

EA has time again referred to Battlefront II as a «learning opportunity.» Presumably in response to the learnings from Battlefront II, DICE’s next game, Battlefield V, launched with no microtransactions.

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