EA may be planning to reintroduce microtransactions back into Star Wars Battlefront 2 soon, but the company has admitted that it got things wrong the first time around.
Indeed, Battlefront 2’s lootboxes error was likely a costly one given that EA cited it as a factor in the game’s lower than expected sales during a January earnings call. During this call, Andrew House said that it had never been EA’s intention to “build an experience that could be seen as unfair".
Learn from it, we will
According to Söderlund , EA’s intention with Star Wars Battlefront 2’s lootboxes had been to find a way to get returns on a game that was “designed […] to have more people play it over a longer period of time.“
This is a problem many publishers face at the moment as the industry shifts towards creating games which can be updated as services and played for a longer period, rather than churning out costly annual releases. When games are being played longer, publishers must find a way to continue to draw in revenue from players to afford and justify their continued upkeep.
In-game purchases are a natural solution but many titles, such as Fortnite, avoid ruffling player feathers by making the purchasable items purely cosmetic. Battlefront 2’s problem was that its players saw its lootboxes as pay-to-win, whereby people could essentially guarantee their success in the game’s multiplayer modes if they were willing and able to spend enough money.
Söderlund acknowledges, “we got it wrong” and vows that EA will learn from the mistakes it’s made.
There are already signs of this: Star Wars Battlefront 2’s progression system was revamped only last month and next month will see the reintroduction of microtransactions after they were turned off entirely in November. This time, however, they’ll be purely cosmetic.
The work EA is doing is apparently yielding positive results, with Söderlund telling The Verge: “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”.
EA will be taking what it’s learned from Battlefront 2 and applying it with caution to its next big titles of this year and the next: Battlefield and 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,” says 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.”
It’s clear that EA is facing something of an uphill climb when it comes to improving its public perception; the publisher has been voted the “worst company in America” by Consumerist readers two years in a row.
Although Söderlund says that “people see the company differently than we do” he said he takes it seriously and knows that EA must “take action and show people that it’s serious about building the best possible products, that it’s serious about treating the players fair, and [it’s] here to make the best possible entertainment that it can.”
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