Electronic Arts CFO Blake Jorgensen has again responded to the controversy surrounding Star Wars: Battlefront II’s loot boxes and microtransaction systems. Speaking today at the 37th Nasdaq Investor Conference, Jorgensen described the situation as a “learning experience.”
“It’s been a great learning experience for us; we consider ourselves a learning organisation,” he explained. “If we’re not learning, that means we’re failing in some way and we’re constantly trying to watch what people do and how they play and listen to them to decide what’s the best way to build great games.”
At the end of November, Jorgensen something similar, explaining, “If we’re not making some mistakes along the way and learning from them, that’s when you should worry about us.” He added at the time that EA removed microtransactions from Battlefront II because players felt it was bordering on a “pay-to-win” scenario.
“The reality is there are different types of players in games. Some people have more time than money, and some people have more money than time,” he said. “You want to always balance those two.”
Battlefront II’s loot boxes come with items that can affect gameplay, and that’s part of the reason why the system was so heavily criticised. Those loot boxes, which contain random items, are still available, but you can only get them by spending in-game credits, not by spending money. Some wondered why EA didn’t take a page out of Overwatch’s playbook and only offer cosmetic items in loot boxes that do not affect gameplay. Jorgensen said EA did not do this in part because it could violate the Star Wars canon.
“It’s an amazing brand that’s been built over many, many years,” Jorgensen said last month. “So if you did a bunch of cosmetic things, you might start to violate the canon. Darth Vader in white probably doesn’t make sense, versus in black. Not to mention you probably don’t want Darth Vader in pink. No offense to pink, but I don’t think that’s right in the canon.”
Going back to the Nasdaq presentation, Jorgensen said it’s not 100 percent confirmed that microtransactions will come back to Battlefront II. That’s an interesting comment, given that DICE’s previous statement made it sound like it was a matter of when, not if, regarding the return of microtransactions. The team is now considering when or if they will return, and if they do, what form that will take, he said.
And regarding the reception to Battlefront II, Jorgensen said the game is seeing “great retention,” adding that the game continues to sell and will through this holiday and beyond. He added that Battlefront II’s numerous pieces of new content and updates, including The Last Jedi content that launched this week, will help to drive engagement in Battlefront II over time.
In other news, a lawmaker from Hawaii has spoken more about his plans to introduce a bill that would prohibit the sale of video games with “gambling mechanisms” to minors.