The controversy surrounding Star Wars Battlefront II has been going back and forth for a while but since switching off microtransactions, EA has been pretty quiet on the subject. Now, the publisher’s CFO, Blake Jorgensen has elaborated a bit more on EA’s decisions leading up to release, specifically addressing the subject of cosmetic loot boxes.
At the Credit Suisse Technology, Media and Telecom Conference, Jorgensen started off by talking about the decision to switch off microtransactions: “We pulled off on the MTX, because the real issue the consumer had was they felt it was a pay-to-win mechanic. The reality is there are different types of players in games. Some people have more time than money, and some people have more money than time. You want to always balance those two.”
Jorgensen is right that gamers were very concerned about Battlefront II’s ‘pay to win’ nature. Meanwhile, cosmetic loot boxes likely would have been accepted without much hesitation. However, it seems that potential ‘violations’ of the Star Wars canon kept EA/DICE from going down that route:
“The one thing we’re very focused on and they are extremely focused on is not violating the canon of Star Wars. It’s an amazing brand that’s been built over many, many years, and so if you did a bunch of cosmetic things, you might start to violate the canon, right? Darth Vader in white probably doesn’t make sense, versus in black. Not to mention you probably don’t want Darth Vader in pink. No offense to pink, but I don’t think that’s right in the canon.”
Now, in the aftermath of Battlefront II’s release, EA is looking into things the company can do cosmetically instead: “There might be things that we can do cosmetically, and we’re working with Lucasfilm on that. But coming into it, it wasn’t as easy as if we were building a game around our own IP where it didn’t really matter. It matters in Star Wars, because Star Wars fans want realism. But Star Wars fans may also want to tailor things — a different colored lightsaber, things like that. So you might see some of that.”
The main issue with the argument of violating the Star Wars canon is that Battlefront II already does this in its multiplayer. There are maps where you can have Darth Maul face off against Rey, or maps where Yoda can be on the same field as newer characters. With that in mind, having a white version of Darth Vader doesn’t seem like that much of a stretch, it would look potentially silly, but it would have been a lot better than trying to sell Star Cards.
KitGuru Says: I have no doubt that LucasFilm has some strict rules in place when it comes to outside companies creating content based on Star Wars. Those restrictions may well have been why cosmetic boxes were off the table in the first place. However, it seems that following on from this, EA and LucasFilm may be able to find a decent middle ground. Whether or not Star Cards will remain inside loot boxes is still up in the air though.