Star Wars – EA Wises Up After Hitting ‘Rock Bottom’ Lootbox Travesty

Journalist:
Melanie Hawthorne
August 28, 2019

EA’s loot box controversy was definitely one of the biggest scandals in gaming in recent years. Electronic Arts already had a bad reputation and Battlefront 2 made it a thousand times worse. The problem wasn’t the game itself, of course. It was the loot boxes within it. The company tried to defend their system but eventually quieted in the face of significant public outrage.

EA’s reaction to a player complaint ended up as the most downvoted post in Reddit history:

Seriously? I paid 80$ to have Vader locked? from r/StarWarsBattlefront

That’s no small feat. Now it seems that EA may have really learned their lesson. Their next game (announced back in April) promised no loot boxes at all – gamers were skeptical, to say the least.

In the wake of the Battlefront scandal, one thing went surprisingly unnoticed, though. That would be the actual game. With loot boxes pulled in time for launch, it still failed to meet sales targets completely.

Dice it up?

Now, two years later, the developer team DICE is still steadily updating and improving the game. According to Dennis Brännvall of EA Dice, this is because they want to win back the community. That’s no small feat the devs at Dice are attempting, but it seems to be working. There is no taking back the loot box scandal itself, but Dice has tried to redeem the game itself.

Monthly updates, new content and a community-focused approach are the strategies Dice wants to use in order to build trust. Rather than putting out a series of sequels and paid DLC, the goal is to provide free content instead.

“DICE has been on the sequel treadmill for quite a while, and I think the industry is changing rapidly. We felt that, and we know that we want to build communities rather than customers. That’s been a change in our approach. We want to stick with our games a lot longer, and we want our communities to feel like they’re well taken care of.”

Says Brännvall

Whether it’s already too late for that remains to be seen. At the time of the loot box scandal, a lot of gamers lost what little faith they had in EA as a publisher, and the company’s attitude on the problem made matters worse. The awful sales figures of Battlefront were far from unexpected, but making the game better years later is more of a drop on the hot stone. Active players get to enjoy new content, but EA did significant damage to their reputation.

Rock Bottom and below

That doesn’t just go away with a few nice gestures and updates from a development team. The problem sits deeper than just Battlefront anyway – while the scandal itself was the biggest, problems existed before that. EA was voted ‘worst company to work for in the US’ three times – in 2012, 2013 and 2017. Their microtransactions were an issue before the game as well, and with their next release coming up in the near future, fans are already skeptical and expecting EA to break their promise.

For a company that hit rock bottom very harshly, options for redemption are few. A smaller studio wouldn’t have survived a scandal like Battlefront, but an AAA studio apparently can – somewhat, at least. With plenty of gamers boycotting EA titles on principle, the company itself has far from redeemed itself.

Us gamers appreciate the effort Dice are putting in, but a scandal that is still causing legal debates years later isn’t something that can be swept under the rug. EA, not Dice are the ones that have to answer for their mistakes after all.

Last modified (UTC): August 28, 2019 09:19

Melanie Hawthorne

Mel is a London-based copywriter that has been writing about video games for a few years now. It's a dream job – periodically angering video game fans by expressing her opinions on games through various online publications. When she’s not writing about video games, she’s probably playing them... or walking her dog in a park. Since that depends largely on the English weather, Mel has plenty of time to indulge in her favourite games. Mel thinks Star Trek is way better than Star Wars and isn’t afraid to admit it – Live long and prosper! You can get in touch here: mel@melhawthorne.com