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"I think crates can be a fun addition as long as you don't feel forced to engage with them in order to progress. I feel that's where the issue is with our game right now and that's where we'll look to solve as quickly as we can."
- EA DICE's Dennis Brannvall, answering a comment on Reddit that loot crates in Battlefront II should either be removed or limited to cosmetic items only.
Some of the devs working on Electronic Arts' Star Wars Battlefront II hung out on Reddit today to take part in an "Ask Me Anything" session with the public, and the results make for interesting reading if you're a dev who's been following the kerfuffle surrounding the game's virtual currency economy.
If nothing else, you may appreciate how relentlessly upbeat and conciliatory the Battlefront II devs' responses are to pointed questions about why the game's loot boxes contain gameplay-affecting items, or why the virtual currency cost to unlock characters in game was (until recently) very high.
But what's especially interesting is that in the face of a lot of criticism, the devs publicly commit to the idea that a "loot box" system can be a good thing in game design; for Battlefront II, it's the execution that fell short.
"I think crates can be a fun addition as long as you don't feel forced to engage with them in order to progress. I feel that's where the issue is with our game right now and that's where we'll look to solve as quickly as we can," wrote EA DICE associate design director Dennis Brannvall in a response to a player complaint. "We're looking to add additional ways to progress your favorite character or class, while allowing crates to be a fun thing for those who want to engage with them."
It's not surprising that the folks working on a game built around players progressing by unlocking rewards with earned (or purchased) virtual currency would stand by that system, but in a year that is seeing so many big-budget games catch criticism for including some sort of loot box analog, it's notable that the Battlefront II devs are being upfront about the fact that grinding for unlocks is a key piece of their game.
"Everything is still grindable. It's up to us to make sure that grind is fun and not overwhelming," Brannvall wrote in another Reddit post. "I realize the popular opinion is to presume creating 'boring, overwhelming grind' is the way to get people to spend more money, but in reality it isn't. Everything wins if players are having fun, that's the main thing always."
For more comments from Brannvall, as well as his compatriots Paul Keslin and John Wasilczyk (a producer and executive producer, respectively), check out the full Reddit AMA thread.