EA's new chief designer promises to avoid repeat of Battlefront 2's loot box controversy

EA's new chief design officer has vowed to "learn from" the mistakes the company made with loot boxes in Star Wars Battlefront 2, and has promised that it will "do better" in future games. Patrick Söderlund, who was head of worldwide studios at EA until an executive reshuffle this week, told The Verge that the controversy around the decision to box-ify everything in the game has "had an effect on EA as a company and an effect on us as management", and that it is determined to avoid similar mistakes in upcoming open-world shooter Anthem and the Battlefield series.

EA removed premium currency from Battlefront 2 ahead of release because of player anger over the progression system, which forced you to grind or pay extra for unlockable extras after you'd already shelled out $60 for the base game. Premium currency is due to return next week, but the new progression system is much better.

“We have taken significant steps as a company to review and understand the mechanics around monetization, loot boxes, and other things in our games before they go to market,” Söderlund said. “For games that come next, for Battlefield or for Anthem, [players have] made it very clear that we can’t afford to make similar mistakes. And we won’t.” 

He added that the intent behind loot boxes in Battlefront 2 was to “have more people play" for a long time after release. “And like a lot of other games on the market, to be able to afford to do that we had an idea of getting returns from that. 

"But at the same time, we got it wrong. And as a result, we had to take very quick and drastic actions to turn everything off, and we’ve since worked and redesigned the progression system. 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...we’ll have to be very cautious with what this means for future products.” 

Samuel Horti

Samuel Horti is a long-time freelance writer for PC Gamer based in the UK, who loves RPGs and making long lists of games he'll never have time to play.