EA’s head of development Patrick Söderlund regrets the now-infamous Star Wars: Battlefront II loot box controversy, saying there were decisions that “we shouldn’t have made”, but that no-one intended to build a slot machine.
Look at all the Battlefront 2 heroes that were once locked behind hundreds of hours of grinding.
“I think as with any creative form where you run a large team, such as in games or film, you have to realise that not everything you do will be successful. Every developer on the planet can attest to that,” Söderlund says.
“When things don’t go as you thought they would, you have to be very humble towards what happened, take an honest approach with yourself and with the result, and try to do better next time. This was an example of change that didn’t work. There’s no getting away from the fact that we made some decisions that I think in hindsight we shouldn’t have made. Neither the developer nor [EA] intended to create a slot machine or take money from people, though that was the perception.”
In case you’d forgotten, here’s how Battlefront 2’s progression and microtransactions systems used to work. In summary: Star Cards gave significant in-game buffs, especially when upgraded via duplicate copies, and were accessible in loot crates that could be bought with real money.
This tied real-money payments very closely to gameplay advantages, leading to a now-infamous backlash that has overspilled the boundaries of the games media. Battlefront 2’s microtransactions have since returned to the game in a much more palatable form. They are now some of the most generous in gaming, but the damage has undoubtedly been done.
The full interview is over at The Guardian and well worth a read.Söderlund also discusses modern games development and its many challenges, touching on EA’s exceptionally generous ‘Originals’ indie label.