It was only last week when we wrote about Patrick Söderlund, Electronic Arts’ new chief designer. We specifically wrote about Söderlund’s interview with the British newspaper, the Guardian. In the article, he offered his opinion on Star Wars Battlefront II (SWBFII) and the whole controversy surrounding microtransactions and loot boxes.
EA’s chief designer was pretty straight-forward with his comments. He didn’t shy away from admitting that some mistakes were made when deciding the direction of the game. This theme seems to be the new consistent theme across all EA executives. For example, EA’s General Manager Jade Raymond also commented that the company had some big learnings from their SWBFII experience.
The whole SWBFII loot box controversy tends to raise questions about the game’s longevity. Every now and then, people seem to question whether the game is going to be around in 6 months or not. Luckily we recently got some additional insight.
The current state of SWBFII
With the game’s controversial launch history it didn’t take long before certain assumptions starting to pop up. If you browse the social media, then inevitably you will come across some comments about SWBFII’s current population. An unsubstantiated assumption made by some people is that game is dead or very close to it. In case you’re wondering, there is currently no way for players to figure out how many active players are in the game.
It didn’t take long before EA’s new community manager Ben Walke to comment on this topic after two fans asked the question.
99% of the time, when people say a game will "die", the game will do just fine. Games dying is a very rare thing these days, but is a comment easily thrown around by players. If a game was 'dead', there'd be no development taking place on it.
— Ben Walke (@BenWalke) April 4, 2018
They are? I'll ask the data analysts to double check their tools, something must be broken. Plans do change, we want to make sure things are locked before we commit to them. Assets need made, videos take time to produce etc
— Ben Walke (@BenWalke) April 4, 2018
Things to keep in mind
In both of Ben’s answers, it’s worth pointing out two things. The first one is that games tend to stay around for a long time. While there are exceptions, Star Wars games don’t normally disappear overnight. Maybe it’s the power of the Star Wars franchise that grants them some immunity up to a certain extent.
Star Wars: The Old Republic is a good example of this. After its launch in late 2011, the game started losing subscribers at an alarming rate. Back then, there were a lot of fans who were predicting its premature death. Seven years later the game is still around and getting new content. Other examples include Star Wars classics like Battlefront 2 and Empire at War. Both games are still getting support today under Disney’s banner.
The second thing to point out is that nobody outside of EA and DICE has reliable data on the game’s population. Any claims that the game is dying are simply not true. At the same time, however. EA continues to invest in new content for the game. This wouldn’t happen if the game was doing poorly.
This was also confirmed by Patrick Söderlund in an interview he gave to the Verge.
EA’s Chief Designer offers insights on the current population of SWBFII
Like his recent interview with the Guardian, Söderlund highlighted the changes that took place since the SWBFII’s launch. He revealed that the loot box controversy had a big impact on EA as a company. He also mentioned the removal of progression impacting microtransactions, as well as, the change in the progression system.
Commenting on player reaction to the changes he said:
People seem to appreciate what we’ve done, players are coming back, and we’re seeing stronger engagement numbers. People seem to think that for the most part, we got it right. It doesn’t mean we will stop. We’ll continue to improve the game, we’ll continue to push on these things, and we’ll have to be very cautious with what this means for future products.
That’s certainly great news for fans of the game. As we have repeatedly written in the past, we want the game to do well. By doing well, it means that EA/DICE will support it for a long time in the future. After the new Solo movie is released there is quite a big gap until Episode 9 hits the movie theaters. This is the perfect opportunity to get more content until the last movie of the sequel trilogy is released. SWBFII’s future seems to be getting better.
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