The Star Wars: Battlefront II circus rumbles on, after Electronic Arts chief financial officer Blake Jorgensen suggested that some microtransactions may not be returning to the game. Battlefront II has been hit with heavy controversy since before the title even saw release, thanks to an extremely unpopular loot box system that was implemented in the game as its foundation.
EA's reliance on this system in Battlefront II has heavily impacted its reception, with the game seen as disappointingly pay-to-win in nature, while a series of changes left it feeling like little more than an expensive beta. Developer DICE removed the troublesome microtransactions from the title in the wake of the backlash the night before release, but many players expected them to return soon. As it turns out, this might not be entirely the case.
That's if EA's own CFO is to be believed, anyway. Blake Jorgensen spoke about the problems with the game's loot box system during the 37th Nasdaq Investor Conference on Tuesday. When asked about whether the microtransactions would return to Battlefront II, Jorgensen was noncommittal, advising "we'll address how we will want to bring the MTX either into the game or not and what form we will decide to bring it into." As reported by Glixel, Jorgensen has suggested that EA's decisions on the matter will be driven by consumer demands. "Clearly we are very focused on listening to the consumer and understanding what the consumer wants and that's evolving constantly," stated Jorgensen. "But we're working on improving the progression system."
EA has now admitted that there was a problem with the way the game was set up, and this has been further compounded by the recent progression update that has been rolled out for the title. Battlefront II has seen a boost in its in-game rewards, with an end-of-round payout increase that particularly impacts top players, the credit cap for Arcade Mode being bumped up to 1500 credits a day, and an increase in the number of crafting elements included in the daily login crates. Of course, these changes might not address all the concerns found by some players, particularly given that it means Battlefront II's progression is still primarily built around cards found in loot boxes. It just further confirms that their design held players back, encouraging them to purchase microtransactions which are temporarily unavailable.
Although the game's poor critical and fan reception will no doubt be part of a drive to improve the game's progression and microtransaction systems, there are also financial implications for EA getting Battlefront II right. The loot box backlash has dropped EA's stock value, while the game's sales have also been a little disappointing, with the game failing to hit the top spot in its first week on sale.
Beyond that, of course, also lie the potential legal implications for a loot box model. Hawaii Democratic State Rep. Chris Lee has announced a plan for games with loot boxes, so EA may be keeping a keen eye on exactly what the future holds from a regulatory perspective. That said, the fact that UFC 3 has its own microtransaction controversy brewing suggests that the publisher still might see loot boxes as a long term financial model.