After gamers and non-gamers alike raked EA over the coals for the premium loot box mechanics that were scheduled to launch in Star Wars: Battlefront II — with many people calling it gambling — EA decided it was time to apologize and let the public know that it has learned from its mistakes.
The Verge is reporting that after being promoted to chief design officer, Patrick Söderlund, expressed sorrow on behalf of DICE and EA for the major mess-up that was the loot box scandal for Star Wars: Battlefront II, saying…
We have taken significant steps as a company to review and understand the mechanics around monetization, loot boxes, and other things in our games before they go to market. For games that come next, for Battlefield or for Anthem, [players have]made it very clear that we can’t afford to make similar mistakes. And we won’t.
This apology comes after gamers protested against the loot boxes in Star Wars: Battlefront II last year. It initially started shortly after the game’s first beta tests during the summer, and the anger and apprehension escalated leading into the fall, until, eventually, gamers, YouTubers, and even casuals began joining forces to combat the inclusion of the premium loot boxes in the game.
The turning point came after parents put together a Facebook campaign warning other parents that Disney was trying to get their kids hooked on gambling-like mechanics by including loot box microtransactions in Star Wars: Battlefront II. The main issue was that the game’s character progression was tied to the loot boxes, and in order to get stronger you would either have to grind in the game to open the loot boxes to get what you wanted or pay real money to acquire the loot boxes with the gear you needed.
For core gamers the issue was that it was a pay-to-win mechanic, since players who couldn’t grind all day could easily be overwhelmed by players who opted instead to just pay big money to acquire the loot boxes they needed to upgrade their characters and vehicles.
For parents, the worry was that kids could end up getting addicted to the slot machine-style mechanic where players would have to keep putting money into the loot box rolls until they unlocked what they wanted. There are similar systems in place with EA Sports UFC and FIFA, as well as Madden NFL. Players constantly complain about the card system in those games, but many gamers are too addicted to stop buying them. Many parents didn’t want this sort of system negatively affecting their kids, so they protested the feature directly to Disney, which in turn resulted in Disney’s head, Bob Iger, contacting Electronic Arts directly to have the studio shelve the loot box microtransactions.
EA still managed to sell millions of copies of Star Wars: Battlefront II, and is also bringing back microtransactions in the form of cosmetics. It’s likely that similar systems will be put into place with this year’s upcoming Battlefield and the 2019 release of Anthem.