"You probably don't want Darth Vader in pink"

EA CFO Blake Jorgensen says faithfulness to Star Wars canon prevented a cosmetic microtransaction model for Star Wars Battlefront II

For months now, Electronic Arts has insisted it has been listening intently to fan complaints about Star Wars Battlefront II and how the game implements microtransactions. Speaking at the Credit Suisse 21st Annual Technology, Media & Telecom Conference today, EA CFO Blake Jorgensen had a chance to offer the company's takeaways from the whole experience, which came to a head earlier this month when the publisher temporarily deactivated microtransactions in the game just hours before launch.

"Listening to the consumer when they start playing the game, six months from now, and even six years from now, is very important for us," Jorgensen said. "And I would say if we're not making some mistakes along the way and learning from them, that's when you should worry about us. But our view is these are great opportunities for us to continue to tune the game, to adjust these things.

"We pulled off on the MTX, because the real issue the consumer had was they felt it was a pay-to-win mechanic. The reality is there are different types of players in games. Some people have more time than money, and some people have more money than time. You want to always balance those two."

When asked why EA didn't then pursue a microtransactions model centered around cosmetic items instead of gameplay boosts, Jorgensen said the company is working with LucasArts on ways to do cosmetic items, but added it's not as easy as it sounds when dealing with an established IP.

"The one thing we're very focused on and they're extremely focused on is not violating the canon of Star Wars," Jorgensen said. "It's an amazing brand that's been built over many, many years. So if you did a bunch of cosmetic things, you might start to violate the canon. Darth Vader in white probably doesn't make sense, versus in black. Not to mention you probably don't want Darth Vader in pink. No offense to pink, but I don't think that's right in the canon."

Despite the uproar over Battlefront II, Jorgensen still painted it as a positive for the publisher overall.

"The great news is this is one of the best games we've ever built," he said. "And we're hearing that from the players who are actually playing the game and engaging in the game. The retention day over day is better than we've seen in almost any of our games. The depth of the gameplay is incredible. The size of the game is incredible. And we'll be adding in the next couple weeks, more content than we've ever added in a game before."

While Jorgensen couldn't give a time frame as to when microtransactions would be turned back on in Battlefront II, it's clear EA is still committed to the idea.

"We're not giving up on the notion of MTX," Jorgensen said. "We're learning and listening to the community in terms of how best to roll that out in the future, and there's more to come as we learn more. But I would say we're certainly not changing our strategy. We think the strategy of deeply engaging games, keeping the community together, and allowing people to play those games with new content coming via events over time is critical to the future of our business. We feel like we've nailed that in the sports games, and we'll continue to try and find the best model that works in the non-sports games."

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Latest comments (4)

Dariusz G. Jagielski Game Developer 4 years ago
No offense, but I'd take pink Vader any day over loot boxes.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by a moderator on 28th November 2017 8:39pm

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Paulmichael Contreras Contributing Editor, PlayStation LifeStyle4 years ago
...most of the game is not spent playing as the iconic characters, but rather as the grunts/officers. The first game broke canon with its mixing of iconic characters, and LucasArts seemed to have no problem with it, since I think everyone understands that multiplayer is a fantasy setup to begin with. So adding cosmetic items to the grunt characters doesn't look to be an issue, I would think. I don't think anyone was expecting to be able to color Darth Vader.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 4 years ago
Some people have more time than money, and some people have more money than time. You want to always balance those two.
Easy fix, do not gate progress and deliver an out of box experience players want to stick with because the game is good, not because they are hooked on progress bars and their empty promise of things getting better once they fill up (whether that happens due to Dollars or time).

You do not see Overwatch players complaining about not having to unlock each character, that was Battleborn's stick. You do not hear DotA or Battleground players complaining about loosing all their precious progress at the end of the match. Heck, even Diablo 3 resets its players every three months in case they opt into a new season because they have the good sense of noticing the first 42h of that game are better than those after. So why a Star Wars game needs 500h worth of grind/cash is beyond me. Sometimes it seems, the industry is heading into a direction where it takes longer to unlock a Ferrari in a game than it takes to earn it in real life.
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Azlin Kassim Old Time Gamer, Bio Quality and Audit4 years ago
I call BS on the canon issue. Easily remedied by asking Disney for permission. Anyway the locations where battles are fought may be canon but that doesn't mean it has to follow the canonical story. For example, who wouldn't want to play with a light side Darth Maul similar to Satele's former master from Knight's of the Old Republic. Pink Darth Vader? Of course you wouldn't peddle that crap. You could peddle Anakin Skywalker or even a damaged battle suit Vader. Duh! Emperor Palpatine before he was injured with Mace Windu. Or Jango Fett swapped with Boba. The possibilities are endless. As for cosmetics for Grunts I highly concur with other comments here. You can easily change uniform or swap Helmet styles if possible. Heck the tried and true color of weapons or even lightsabers! Possibilities are endless.
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