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At EA Play, loot box controversy still loomed over Electronic Arts

EA, DICE and BioWare touched on loot boxes and pay to win concerns

Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Anger over Electronic Arts approach to microtransactions — specifically loot boxes and concerns over pay-to-win tactics — was still on the minds of the company today at the publisher’s EA Play event.

EA CEO Andrew Wilson touched on the subject in a high level way during a speech in which he sounded both contrite and supportive of EA developers, saying that they strive to make great games. The message seem tailored to communicate that EA has heard loudly and clearly from players about what business practices they will and won’t accept from the publisher.

Here’s what Wilson had to say, which you can watch in the video above:

We are always trying to learn and listen and strive to be better. As you look at the 10 experiences that you’re going to see today and as you play games this week, there’s some things we hope come through. First, that at the very core is choice, is that you as players get to choose how you play, what you play, when you play and what devices you play on. That in making those choices you feel you are treated fairly. That no one is given an unfair advantage or disadvantage for how they choose to play. That for every moment that you invest — we know that you put so much of your life into the games we make — you feel like you are rewarded and you are given value for that investment. And most importantly, that the games are fun. That we move past the grind and that these are experiences that truly enhance your lives. So as we think through all the things we’re trying to do know that we want to be better and that we want to make great games.

At EA Play, the new design director for Star Wars Battlefront 2, the game at the heart of the controversy surrounding loot boxes last year, sounded even more humbled and directly approached player discontent.

“We launched our game in November of last year and clearly we didn’t get it quite right,” Dennis Brännvall, design director on Star Wars Battlefront 2. “So instead of coming out of the gate sprinting like we really wanted to, we had to take a step back and make sure that we were delivering the game that our players really wanted. We decided to completely overhaul our progression system and add a bunch of new character cosmetics for players to collect instead.

“EA and DICE are committed to Battlefront. We had a rough start but I really think this game has a bright future. Thank you very much for playing the game, providing your feedback, talking to us together. We will make this the greatest game that we can possibly build. There will be not Battlefront without you.”

Developers from DICE also took time during EA Play to reiterate that the studio’s other shooter, Battlefield 5, won’t ship with paid loot boxes or a premium pass. Battlefield 5 will have cosmetic options and player customization, however.

After EA Play, where DICE announced new Clone Wars-themed content for Battlefront 2, developers pledged to be more open and communicative with players about the future of the Star Wars game’s development.

“In an effort to improve upon our transparency, we’re going to provide a more detailed Roadmap on what’s ahead for Star Wars Battlefront II,” DICE said on the game’s website. “We’ll be able to share this with you after we’ve rounded up the Han Solo Season, in the end of June.”

Finally, at EA Play, BioWare responded to a question asked via Twitter about loot boxes and cosmetic items in its upcoming game, Anthem, which is due early next year.

“We are going to have some cosmetics and vanity items that you’ll be able to purchase,” said Mark Darrah, executive producer at BioWare, “but you’re always going to know what you’re going to buy before you spend any money on it. No loot boxes, no ability to pay for power. That means no ability to spend money on gameplay advantage at all within Anthem.”