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Star Wars: Battlefront 2 Controversy Draws Response From Disney, Lucasfilm
Lucasfilm, the film and TV company behind Star Wars, has responded to the controversy around microtransactions surrounding the recently launched Star Wars: Battlefront II. A spokesperson told The Washington Post that the company stands behind publisher EA's decision to temporarily suspend the game's implementation of microtransactions.
"Star Wars has always been about the fans--and whether it's Battlefront or any other Star Wars experience, they come first," the spokesperson said. "That's why we support EA's decision to temporarily remove in-game payments to address fan concerns."
Battlefront II's microtransactions were removed just hours before the game's official launch on Friday, November 17. EA made the call after facing a wave of criticism amongst those who played an early version of the game through EA/Origin Access or by pre-ordering. In addition to heat from fans, it seems like Disney executive Jimmy Pitaro, who heads up the company's consumer products and interactive media division, might have been involved in the decision to have microtransactions removed.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Pitaro spoke with EA management just hours before microtransactions were removed. Pitaro reportedly informed EA that executives at Disney were upset by how the dissatisfaction amongst players "reflected on their marquee property." Headlines about Battlefront II and player outrage made international news, and with just weeks to go before The Last Jedi's release on December 15, Disney was surely looking for a more positive news cycle around its biggest brand.
Battlefront II offers loot crates that contain randomized items. Before the microtransactions were removed, you could purchase Crystals with real-world money that could be spent on loot crates. Part of what made Battlefront II's loot crate system highly contentious is that the boxes could contain items that provide actual gameplay performance-boosters such as deadlier grenades or extended cloaking. You can still get those bonuses, but now all progression is tied to your in-game achievements.
EA is bringing back microtransactions at a later date, but there is no word as of yet if changes to the progression system will also be made. For example, we don't know if EA will take a page out of Overwatch's playbook and offer only cosmetic items in its loot crates or if the company will take a different approach. We will be monitoring the situation and will report back with more details as they're made available.
EA's stock price took a hit after Battlefront II dropped microtransactions, but the company says this will have no meaningful impact on its bottom line for the fiscal year.
It remains to be seen what effect the microtransaction controversy may have on Battlefront II sales. In the UK, first-week physical sales were down 61 percent compared to the 2015 Battlefront reboot, which doesn't paint the rosiest of pictures, even with an assumed rise in the digital share factored in.
We are holding back our final Battlefront II review for now, but you can read our Battlefront II review-in-progress to find out what we think so far.