Battlefront 2’s controversial loot boxes contain items that make you more likely to win the game – but they did not want to go down the other path and provide cosmetic items in them.
We’ve covered the controversy here at length already – Star Wars Battlefront 2 contained loot crates that made it easier to win if you spent money on them, and fans were not happy. The system has been compared to gambling by multiple politicians and bodies.
With pressure mounting, and after pressure from Disney, EA removed the microtransactions from the game. They’ll be back, in some form or another, but a lot of damage has already been done to the game’s brand.
One question that has been raised often is why the game couldn’t simply bring in money with cosmetic loot-box rewards – a system that, while still not great, is a bit less insidious than the one Battlefront 2 has.
Speaking at the Credit Suisse Annual Technology, Media & Telecom Conference (as transcribed by Polygon), EA chief financial officer Blake Jorgensen addressed this question, explaining that it was an issue of Star Wars canon.
According to Jorgensen, putting in cosmetic options that were not in line with what players would typically expect will disrupt the canonical look of the series. “It’s an amazing brand that’s been built over many, many years, and so if you did a bunch of cosmetic things, you might start to violate the canon”, he said.
While he admits that there’s some room for customisation – like changing the colour of your lightsabre – this is the excuse they’re settling on for why their lootboxes contain items that will help players succeed rather than cosmetic items. Hmmm. The fact that characters from different timelines all appear together at once, and the fact that Star Wars ‘canon’ is a messy concept, does not come up.
It’ll be interesting to see if Battlefront 2 gets a major shake-up in its monetisation model once microtransactions return – we’ll keep an eye on the situation.