DICE has come out and said that Star Wars Battlefront 2's loot box controversy brought the studio to its lowest point in the eyes of its players. Publisher EA has also expressed regret multiple times in the past two years over the game's launch and its egregious mishandling of microtransactions.
The debacle over Battlefront 2's loot boxes and progression was one of gaming's biggest controversies in 2017. These systems turned the mostly-multiplayer game into a pay-to-win scenario: loot boxes dispensed in-game "Star Cards" that granted statistical boosts based on their rarity, while standard progression barely gave anything to players who didn't shell out for loot boxes. Needless to say, the outcry from fans was enormous. So enormous, in fact, that the resulting PR nightmare caused Battlefront 2 to fall short of its sales targets and even impacted EA's stock value. DICE and EA have been cleaning up the fallout from this disaster ever since, trying to rebuild some kind of goodwill by addressing the problem, overhauling Battlefront 2's progression system, and continuing to support the game with free and frequent content updates. But the game's problematic launch still looms large in the minds of many fans, and DICE itself is intimately aware of that.
In an interview with GamesIndustry.biz during Gamescom, Battlefront 2's design director Dennis Brannvall admitted that DICE "hit rock bottom" in terms of player sentiment after the release of Battlefront 2. "Not a week goes by without us thinking, 'Imagine if we hadn't launched with loot boxes the way we did'," Brannvall said. He went on to imply that if the handling of microtransactions had been better, both the critical and commercial reception of the game would have focused on its content rather than the system that connected it. Brannvall says that he and his team "would have been in a different place, that's for sure" and that they truly believe Battlefront 2 is a worthy sequel to their first Battlefront game and lives up to the legacy of the Battlefront franchise.
However, that wasn't what happened - and Brannvall knows it. He stated that in order to move forward with Battlefront 2, the team first needed to take a step back. It was "not completely dissimilar to Rainbow Six Siege," he said. "They didn't launch the way they wanted, but now it's doing well and I think we're on a similar trajectory." Brannvall further stated that player engagement with the game is now climbing every month, and pointed to all the new content for Battlefront 2 in 2019:
"We're delivering more content this year than we did in the first year, which is also a sign of a healthy game. The community's happier than it's ever been, especially with the big announcement [at Gamescom]. I think we had to take a step back, the team had to look at itself in the mirror a little bit, pick ourselves up from a really rough Christmas for everyone and then just get back to work.
Brannvall claims that Battlefront 2 is now "a lot of fun," and one could say it's certainly become more fun than when the game launched. Players who stuck with the game despite the overt problems with its story, design, and business model have reaped the benefits of DICE's consistent support. The community around the game is also growing, especially considering The Rise of Skywalker and its upcoming release. All things considered, DICE seems to have learned a hard lesson with Battlefront 2, and it has taken that lesson to heart and gotten better as a result.