Thankfully, given recent events online, the Star Wars Battlefront 2 AMA last night remained incredibly civil. EA’s previous attempts to address recent fan concerns over the new game’s loot box progression and microtransactions via Reddit did not go so well, leading to the company’s response to become the most ‘down-voted’ comment of all time on the website.
So EA decided to try it again, and this time three members of the team from developer DICE held a Reddit ‘Ask Me Anything’ session. It was very last minute and hastily arranged with the post promising "full transparency.” The developers stated that they “were just as surprised by the news as you were. EA did not initially contact us to set up the AMA, so we apologise for the lack of info until now, but we were able to reach out to them this morning to try and figure out the schedule".
Answering the questions were executive producer John Wasilczyk, associate design director Dennis Brannvall and multiplayer producer Paul Keslin.
Fans were immediately critical of the developers over the amount of time it would take to unlock elements of the game, with Cheesegrater74 asking: "Don’t you think that is a bit unfair that a large portion of content will be inaccessible for those who have other responsibilities like work, school, in a game they paid for?"
Wasilczyk replied, saying "We’ve seen the speculation about how long it takes players to earn things – but our averages based on the Play First trial are much faster than what’s out there. But as more players come in, that could change. We’re committed to making progression a fun experience for all of our players. Nothing should feel unattainable and if it does, we’ll do what it takes to make sure it’s both fun and achievable."
Another common concern, and one that has come under heavy criticism is the game’s progression system, both from the perspective of time and the use of microtransactions, to level up quicker in what many see as a system based on getting people to pay more to unlock items faster. "I think this concern has come through loud and clear," said Wasilczyk.
"We’re going to continue adjusting the crate systems, content, and progression mechanics to hit a point that gives players a great, balanced experience at all skill levels. We’re working on expanding the number of ways that players can progress, putting more control in their hands and providing more options and choice in the way people play. There’s not much in the game that we wouldn’t revisit to improve the game for as many players as possible."
User, The_Year_Of_Gald asked if "DICE’s brand has been damaged by its association with EA" and what the most effective method is for gamers to voice their corners over microtransactions and get large companies to stop the practice. "First off, I joined DICE because I love the games we make and the culture we have," replied design director Brannvall.
"We always listen to our community and we care about our games once they go live. We are also part of EA and none of the games we’ve made (including this one) would have been possible without them. We’re proud to be part of this team. Sometimes we make mistakes. When we do, we fix them. I think our brand remains very strong."
"The best way to tell a company what you want on any topic is doing exactly what you are doing – give us the feedback. Talk with us, constructively. When we can change things, we will. When we can’t, we can’t, and as much as possible we’ll explain why. At the end of the day, if you don’t have fun in our game or you don’t like our game, we lose. Plain and simple. We want to make games that people want to play and are happy with. That’s our jobs, and we’re going to keep doing it."
Concluding the AMA, Brannvall added how unhappy DICE were internally at the reaction to the game. "We were incredibly saddened by the negative response from you, the community on Reddit about the game, he said. "In fact, we hated it, we truly did, because we want to make a game that you love. We’ve made a really cool, fun and beautiful game but it was overshadowed by issues with the progression system. We will fix this."