The controversy and debate stirred up by Star Wars: Battlefront II’s microtransaction system was one of the biggest stories of 2017. The news made international headlines. People outside of gaming circles were even talking about it.
In the wake of this, EA is moving away from loot boxes, and now an EA executive has spoken about how the drama is changing how the company makes games.
EA’s vice president of strategic growth, Matt Bilbey, told GI.biz that the situation was so dramatic that EA decided to re-think the framework of how it designs and tests games. This is part of a directive called the “EA moral compass,” Bilbey explained.
“I ran a team internally with [EA chief design officer Patrick Soderlund] post-Battlefront to actually redesign our game development framework and testing platforms to ensure we’re giving our game teams the right guidance–we’ll call it an EA moral compass–at the beginning of development so that we’re designing our live service early, we’re testing it early, testing it with gamers who are giving us feedback so we ensure those pillars of fairness, value, and fun are true,” Bilbey said.
At E3 this year, EA talked about how Battlefront II was a big learning for the company no doubt due in part to the response about its monetisation methods.
“We launched our game in November of last year and clearly we didn’t get it quite right,” Battlefront II design director Dennis Brannvall said. “Instead of coming out of the gate and sprinting like we really wanted to, we had to take a step back and make sure that we were delivering a game that players really wanted.”
Looking ahead, EA’s next big game, Battlefield V, will not have loot boxes or a season pass. That being said, the game is still expected to make mountains of money beyond the initial sale through cosmetics that players can spend real money to acquire.
Microtransactions are big business for EA and other publishers, so you should expect these companies to continue to push in this area. The problem with Battlefront II was that the items contained inside its loot boxes included perks that affected gameplay, so it became a pay-to-win scenario. Today, the game only lets you buy cosmetics.