Star Wars Battlefront 2: EA CEO on How to Avoid Future Controversy

EA's CEO reflects on the troubled launch of Star Wars Battlefront 2 and how the game turned itself around.

Back in 2017, EA faced swift backlash from gamers when Star Wars Battlefront 2 launched with an overabundance of loot boxes and microtransactions. It wasn’t long before EA toned down these in-game financial elements, but the game’s lifespan had already begun on a bad footing. Its reputation was tarnished.

“We can’t afford to make similar mistakes,” former EA vice president Patrick Söderlund said at the time. And with the gift of hindsight, it looks like EA has stuck to that vow: the publisher’s next Star Wars game will be Respawn’s Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, a single-player experience that will be completely devoid of microtransactions. EA’s most recent launch was Bioware’s Anthem, which had problems of its own, but didn’t make the same money-based mistakes as Battlefront 2.

Another EA executive is now reflecting on the experience of launching Battlefront 2 to such a negative response. As reported by Gamespot, EA CEO Andrew Wilson said this in an earnings call: “Battlefront 2, on balance — and it’s kind of hard to see through the mist of this — but on balance, Battlefront 2 was a great game. We made some missteps in the context of progression and monetization which actually clouded what was otherwise a really great game.”

Wilson continued: “With the ongoing commitment that the studio has had with the player community, it’s now a really strong game with really strong player sentiment, and we expect that will continue to do well. We should have had that done at launch but we are a learning organization, and we’ve continued to support that community.”

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Indeed, in the two years since the game’s launch, DICE has done a lot to keep Battlefront 2 updated with fan-pleasing new materials. Most recently, this intention to please fans has manifested in a run of prequel-based content, which included such tongue-in-cheek fan service moments as Anakin Skywalker declaring his hatred of sand.

As for EA’s plans going forward, Wilson said, “Our entire marketing organization is now moving out of presentation mode and into conversation mode, and changing how we communicate with players over time. So that the day we bring truly a global audience into play, we have strong confidence that 1) the game is ready; 2) that the infrastructure can handle the game at scale; and 3) that our players understand exactly what they’re going to be playing and how they’re going to be playing, both on the day of launch and over time.”

This sounds like a strong approach, looping fans in at every opportunity instead of leaving them in the dark and then asking for their dosh. Here’s hoping that the launch of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order on Nov. 15 will be a step in the right direction.