EA made a surprise move earlier this month when, hours before the game’s release, the company pulled all microtransactions out of Star Wars Battlefront II. This was done in response to extreme pressure from fans, who were rightly concerned about the impact that players buying Battlefront II’s loot crates could have on gameplay balance. Now, EA CFO Blake Jorgensen has addressed EA’s decision and discussed where things go from here.
“Listening to the consumer when they start playing the game, six months from now, and even six years from now, is very important for us,” Jorgensen said at the Credit Suisse Technology, Media, and Telecom Conference, as reported by GamesIndustry.biz. “And I would say if we’re not making some mistakes along the way and learning from them, that’s when you should worry about us. But our view is these are great opportunities for us to continue to tune the game, to adjust these things.”
“We pulled off on the MTX, because the real issue the consumer had was they felt it was a pay-to-win mechanic,” he continued. “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.”
As Jorgensen said, the game will indeed continue to be adjusted–we already know the removal of microtransactions is only a temporary measure. When the news was announced, DICE stated that microtransactions would return in the future, but it was not made clear whether they would do so in a different form. EA’s need to continue generating revenue to support its plans for free post-launch content is understandable, and a common idea suggested by fans is to go the route of Overwatch: limit real-world money purchases to cosmetic items, like skins and emotes.
Jorgensen was asked why that isn’t the route EA and DICE pursued, and he claimed it comes down to issues of working with an IP that EA does not own. “The one thing we’re very focused on and they’re extremely focused on is not violating the canon of Star Wars,” Jorgensen said. “It’s an amazing brand that’s been built over many, many years. So if you did a bunch of cosmetic things, you might start to violate the canon. 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.”
It’s somewhat of an unusual point, given that much or all of what happens in Battlefront II’s multiplayer proves problematic as far as canon goes. You can, after all, have Hero units running around on maps where they never set foot, or have Yoda and Kylo Ren squaring off–to say nothing of droids spamming the crouch button or things of the sort. But EA does face hurdles in implementing cosmetics that it would not with Battlefield, for instance.
Whatever the case, Jorgensen reiterated that microtransactions will return to the game. “We’re not giving up on the notion of MTX,” he said. “We’re learning and listening to the community in terms of how best to roll that out in the future, and there’s more to come as we learn more. But I would say we’re certainly not changing our strategy. We think the strategy of deeply engaging games, keeping the community together, and allowing people to play those games with new content coming via events over time is critical to the future of our business. We feel like we’ve nailed that in the sports games, and we’ll continue to try and find the best model that works in the non-sports games.”
Part of EA’s decision to remove microtransactions may have been pressure from Lucasfilm and Disney, which were reportedly concerned with how the outcry reflected on the broader Star Wars brand. We still don’t know where EA plans to go from here, but we’ll report back as we learn more. In the meantime, you can check out our Star Wars Battlefront II review.