Following the highly discussed controversy surrounding Star Wars Battlefront II‘s “pay-to-win” loot boxes and their subsequent removal, it sounds like publisher EA has been doing some soul-searching after once again being named one of the most hated companies in the United States.
EA chief design officer Patrick Söderlund recently opened up to The Verge about the backlash the publisher experience following Battlefront II‘s release, and like an ex who’s just come back from rehab, he promised that EA is trying to learn from its mistakes.
“I’d be lying to you if I said that what’s happened with Battlefront [II] and what’s happened with everything surrounding loot boxes and these things haven’t had an effect on EA as a company and an effect on us as management,” Söderlund said in the carefully curated wording of someone who just received a promotion following what many consider one of EA’s historically biggest bungles. “We can shy away from it and pretend like it didn’t happen, or we can act responsibly and realize that we made some mistakes, and try to rectify those mistakes and learn from them.”
Following vocal push back from what seemed like the entire internet running up to Battlefront II‘s release, EA removed all microtransactions from the Star Wars shooter at launch and only recently reintroduced them to the game as cosmetic-only offerings while also making major improvements to the game’s progression system.
Battlefront II, Söderlund seems acutely aware of how the controversy could affect EA’s biggest upcoming titles like the next Battlefield and BioWare’s Anthem, which are both rumored to include cosmetic-only microtransactions.
“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,” Söderlund said. “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.”
A big test will come in June, when the publisher will feature the Battlefield’s gameplay debut and an “inside look” at Anthem during EA Play 2018. Given Söderlund’s statements, we’re expecting that loot boxes will be a major topic of discussion at that event.
For now, it seems like one of EA’s main goals throughout the rest of 2018 is re-instilling trust in its players.
“We have to take action and show people that we’re serious about building the best possible products, that we’re serious about treating the players fair, and we’re here to make the best possible entertainment that we can,” he says. “And in the cases where we don’t get it right, we just have to listen and learn from it and be better.”