The lead-up and the road to Battlefront II was filled with excitement. The original game which was a reboot of the classic original games from two generations ago, proved that EA DICE was capable of handling Battlefront and capable of bringing the world of Star Wars to life with a casual shooter. But also, Battlefront was equally a very light experience that didn’t hold player’s attention spans for too long and the game suffered for it. Two years later, Battlefront II was announced to the world and it promised not only a bigger multiplayer mode on the scale of DICE’s other shooter franchise, Battlefield, but it also it promised a single-player campaign. However, after the beta concluded and November came around, the good things about the game wasn’t even talked about but the bad things that EA told DICE to add into the MP experience.
Battlefront II has all the makings of a game that could be very good, everything lined up, except for one thing. It was surrounded by controversy, thanks to the heavy-implemented MTX and Lootboxes, which was tied to the progression system and favored those that had money over those who didn’t. The haves and have-nots mentality. The outcry was so loud that EA pulled it out and decided to rebuild the system from the ground up and released this new version built from the ground up on the March 21st patch.
Last week, Patrick Söderlund was promoted to EA’s chief design officer, was interviewed with The Verge:”The last six months post-release have been an important learning experience for the company. And it’s been an experience that will help shape how EA operates moving forward. 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,” he later explains further. “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.”
Battlefront II is the most well-known game when it comes to the lootbox controversy but there were other games that were also called out on monetization practices: Destiny 2 and Shadow of War also comes to mind, especially Shadow of War and how Warner Brothers hammered in Lootbox and MTX into the SP campaign. The business model and our expectations are constantly evolving when it comes to triple A games like Battlefront or Battlefield, for example. Developers now are struggling to figure out what’s a good balance between creating a massive experience that is constantly evolving with earning and making revenue to support that massive experience.
Patrick Söderlund explains, further.”We had the intent that was designed for us to have more people play it over a longer period of time. And like a lot of other games on the market, to be able to afford to do that we had an idea of getting returns from that. 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. 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. 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,” he says. “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.
“We have to take action and show people that we’re serious about building the best possible products, that we’re serious about treating the players fair, and we’re here to make the best possible entertainment that we can,” he explains. “And in the cases where we don’t get it right, we just have to listen and learn from it and be better.”
Earlier in the decade, EA was named “the worst company in America.” for about 2 times in a row and EA recognizes that we the players view EA different then EA views themselves, thanks to Mass Effect 3’s ending and the decision to make the Sims 5 an online-only game. That perception isn’t really changing in my opinion, thanks to the Battlefront II controversy and the Mass Effect: Andromeda debacle.
I really hope that EA has truly learned their lesson when they release Battlefield 2018 which is rumored to be set within World War II in October, I hope they learn the lessons from Battlefront II and apply them to the next Battlefield game and for Anthem, I also hope they take the lessons learn and apply those lessons for that game as Anthem holds alot of potiental from what I’ve seen at last year’s E3.
( Thanks to Supremex11 for the SWBFII screenshots.)