Star Wars Battlefront II left an uneasy legacy due to its loot box system, and publisher EA is looking to avoid similar controversies when developing future games. The fan uproar over Battlefront II stemmed from its business model, which revolved around loot boxes that provided players with new weapons, boosters, and abilities.
While the game would not have a season pass like the first Star Wars: Battlefront, fans continued to push back, with EA constantly making changes to the progression system all the way to the night before the game's release. The controversy, which took over the course of several months, escalated to the point of foreign governments investigating the ordeal. Needless to say, the entire saga was a public relations disaster for EA - and they don't want to repeat the same mistakes again.
Speaking to GamesIndustry, EA executive vice president of strategic growth Matt Bilbey discussed how their developers planned to avoid similar nightmare-ish scenarios similar to what the already-unpopular publisher experienced nearly one year ago. According to Bilbey, it will involve a "moral compass" of sorts.
"I ran a team internally with Patrick 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."
In other words, EA will involve gamers in the development process as early as possible. Rather than sneaking in new features that could potentially cause backlash, developers will keep potential customers in the loop, keeping their feedback and concerns in mind. The Battlefront II controversy had a lack of communication and transparency as a large issue, leading to several haphazard and last-minute changes to the game. With this new philosophy in mind, EA hopes that their games and features will satisfy fans at launch. This "moral compass" will likey be utilized more in creating the systems for multiplayer games, such as DICE's upcoming shooter Battlefield V, which won't include loot boxes whatsoever.
However, that philosophy doesn't just apply to shooters, but also upcoming action-adventure games such as BioWare's Anthem, an online multiplayer game with a similar set-up as Activision and Bungie's Destiny. The publisher is looking at this co-operative sci-fi shooter as their opportunity to create their own long-running, sustainable, service-based game, and its success will depend on how its online systems are implemented at launch. These changes in company policy may seem like common sense, but for EA, a video game company that constantly finds itself embroiled in controversies, keeping player feedback and morality in mind is the first step in a better future for them and consumers alike.
- Battlefield V (2018 Video Game) release date: Nov 20, 2018
- Anthem (2019 Video Game) release date: Nov 14, 2018