If you didn't know Star Wars: Battlefront II was in trouble, then I do wonder where you've been. The game was launched amid mass controversy over the loot box-based microtransaction systems implemented, with accusations levelled at publisher EA including a system trying to milk gamers for as much money as possible.
The controversy led to EA turning off the microtransactions, but that was only a temporary measure. They was always a very strong possibility that they would return, and now it's a definite thing.
It turns out that controversy is not good for game sales, with EA telling the Wall Street Journal that the game has only sold nine million copies. That's a big number, and might be seen as a win for a lot of smaller companies, but not for EA. The sales fell short of expectations (10 million) and also means the company sold fewer copies then the 2015 Battlefront reboot in the same period of time (13 million).
Star Wars is one of the biggest franchises on the planet, and should have been a sure thing for EA, but things obviously didn't go as planned. So the microtransactions will be back "in the the next few months". That doesn't mean EA is in trouble, however, with $5.1 billion in projected earnings for the current financial year (ending March 31st).
Meanwhile EA CEO Andrew Wilson has called the loot box controversy as a "learning opportunity" during a conference call, which is certainly better than the company's stance on similar controversy levelled at the mobile Dungeon Keeper reboot.
"Now, let me touch on Star Wars Battlefront II. This was definitely a learning opportunity. You’ll remember that we brought three of our top studios together on this project, and the result was a massive game with a new Star Wars story; space battles; and huge multiplayer variety. We wanted a game that would meet the needs of the vast and passionate Star Wars fan base, so we designed it with the intent of keeping the community together, and a commitment to continually add content long after launch.
Given the newness of this design, we knew that player feedback during the pre-launch testing period would be key. Having made adjustments based on sentiment and community data coming out of the beta and early trials, we ultimately made the decision to pull in-game purchases out of the game prior to launch.
We never intended to build an experience that could be seen as unfair or lacking clear progression, so we removed the feature that was taking away from what fans were telling us was an otherwise great game. We are fortunate to have such passionate players that will tell us when we get it right, and when we don’t. We’re now working hard on more updates that will meet the needs of our players, and we hope to bring these to the Battlefront II community in the months ahead.”
At the moment there's no hard date on when the microtransactions will be returning to the game, or whether they'll be retooled to take player criticisms and feedback into account. But they're coming, so anyone who does play Battlefront II should prepare themselves for the day people can log in and buy Darth Vader without doing any work. [Wall Street Journal via Venture Beat]