Following the controversy on microtransactions on Star Wars Battlefront II, Executive Producer John Wasilczyk, Associate Design Director Dennis Brannvall and Producer Paul Keslin took to Reddit to respond to quite a lot of questions on the issue.
First of all, we read a comment on some estimates that have been published about the time it takes to unlock perks in the game.
“We’ve seen the speculation about how long it takes players to earn things – but our averages based on the Play First trial are much faster than what’s out there. But as more players come in, that could change. We’re committed to making progression a fun experience for all of our players. Nothing should feel unattainable and if it does, we’ll do what it takes to make sure it’s both fun and achievable. As we update and expand Arcade mode, we’ll be working towards making sure that players can continue to progress without daily limits.”
Interestingly, we hear that the developers’ goal is for progression not to feel like a grind.
The team believes that loot crates can be fun as long as you don’t feel forced to use them, but they admit that there is an issue in this, and they’re working to solve it as quickly as possible with additional ways to progress.
“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. 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.”
” We’ve already started to tweak our existing systems based on the data we’ve seen from our Play First Trial players as well as your feedback. The goal with star card class level requirements, initially, was to make you go wide in the type of cards you get before you go deep in specializing which ones you want to upgrade. That said, we’re hearing loud and clear that you’d prefer a system where playing a class or a character specificially will upgrade its level instead, so we’re looking to make that change as soon as possible.”
The team is aware that players aren’t receiving crafting parts quickly enough, and they’re looking into fixing that.
“Yes, always. We are always going to be looking at the system from the back end, making changes depending on how we see people progressing. If it looks as though the crafting parts aren’t being given out quickly enough, we’ll look into changes to fix that. We know our players are looking for more direct paths in getting the thing they really want, so we’ll look to provide that as quickly as we can.”
We get the promised that the system that governs rewards at the end of the round will be updated, as for now, it doesn’t reward performance enough.
“The new system in Battlefront 2 has more depth and complexity than Battlefront 1 and required updates to how we think about all of this. We’ve made a lot of changes and credit rewards are part of that. We’re working on updates to the end of round rewards system and that will affect how a player’s match performance yields credits. Right now it’s not weighted enough to reward performance.”
“Right now, 20% of your score is factored into your Credit reward. We agree, that’s likely not enough, and we’re looking into how we can increase that now.”
An interesting point is on matchmaking, that at least in the developers’ intentions should not match players against those who are much better. That includes invetory, so players should not encounters others who can overwhelm them purely by paying.
“Mainly through matchmaking. We take into account not only your gameplay skills, but also inventory and time played, when we match players together in multiplayer. You should not ever be matchmade together with players who are much better than you are. Ultimately your effectiveness is going to come down to skill, not the Star Cards that you have. If it doesn’t feel that way, we’ll see it on our side, too. Our data will tell that story and we’ll make adjustments. We’re looking at results from millions of matches and will be continuously rebalancing items, unlocks, and matchmaking to create a fair, fun experience for all of our players. Beyond that, all Star Cards have maximum values regardless of how they are unlocked.”
Apparently, the fact that the game has just been released leads to matchmaking errors that won’t mirror what described above.
“Our matchmaking system will rank players who do well against other players that do well. If they wreck players in one game, the next game they’ll be put against other players with similar skill. That’s the intent. We’re going to look at cases like these as they’re likely indicative of matchmaking errors. This is potentially occurring because the servers are still populating, since the game only just released.
We’re finishing rolling all the versions of the game out around the world this week which will affect server populations and matchmaking. Once that’s complete we’ll be working on updating the matchmaking logic to address situations like these.”
We then get the promise that the customization system is coming, and will “change the game tremendeously on all levels.”
“Nothing is too late. As you’ve noticed, we weren’t able to get the customization system into the game in time for launch. I’m actually having artists and designers walk up to me today showing me cosmetic stuff they really want to get out there. I think we have probably the best looking Clone Troopers ever made and I know players really want to customize them (I know I do). I can’t really commit to a date just yet, but we’re working on stuff and I believe it will change the game tremendeously on all levels.”
“Customization is something we care about. Believe me, people are constantly sending ideas around the office from all corners of the Star Wars galaxy. Clone Wars, Rebels, comics, movies, novels – there are some really, really cool designs out there (especially from the Clone Wars era). It’s on our list of things we’re looking at daily, and always top of mind. Stay tuned…”
The team is looking for ways to expand the arcade mode, and we receive an explanation on why credits received offline are limited.
“As we want to let players earn Credits offline via a more relaxed game mode, we needed to also find a way to make sure it wouldn’t be exploited in a way that would impact Multiplayer. Because of that we made the decision to limit the number of Credits earned to stop potential abuse. We will be looking at data continually and make adjustments to make things as balanced as possible.
As for more Arcade, just like every mode in our game, we want to look for ways to expand it going forward. Unfortunately at this point we don’t have anything to share right now, but know that we care about Offline modes.”
“We see Arcade as a great way to get familiar with the game as well as put you alone, or you and a friend, into an experience tailored for that number of players.
That said, we are very aware that some of you would love to have what is essentially a Multiplayer mode available offline. And we think that makes sense! It’s an opportunity for learning the ins and outs of the Multiplayer and allows for a great, safe experience. Nothing we can commit to today, but we’ll keep this one on our list.”
“During development Arcade was originally called “Skirmish” but given the new experience we offered, we launched under the name “Arcade” which we felt better describes the play available as well as the opportunities we have for future development. Many of the elements of Skirmish (offline play, couch co-op, AI, etc.) formed the foundation for this mode.
With Arcade we wanted to offer everyone new ways to play, which allows for a focus to be put on the unique experiences playing alone (or or with a friend) can give. Alongside adding Campaign, this led us to develop this mode – a safe place to play with the Battlefront toys. The “Custom Games” mode being the most extreme of this, which gives you the tools to make your own experience.”
EA Dice is aware of the demand for private servers, and will “continue to consider” their implementation.
“This is something we hear a lot and will continue to consider. We know there are folks out there that want to either run their own competitive events or find a safe space to take screenshots / create crazy videos. Those are things we’re excited to see you all do so it will continue to be on our radar.”
We also hear some comments on the press reaction to the progression system, including some mediocre review scores.
“I think this concern has come through loud and clear. We’re going to continue adjusting the crate systems, content, and progression mechanics to hit a point that gives players a great, balanced experience at all skill levels. We’re working on expanding the number of ways that players can progress, putting more control in their hands and providing more options and choice in the way people play. There’s not much in the game that we wouldn’t revisit to improve the game for as many players as possible.”
“I feel that the score was impacted by the feedback on our progression system and obviously would have loved if that wasn’t the case. I believe the gameplay, art, audio and depth warrants higher recognition, but I’m a developer, so I’m not necessarily the most unbiased source. Reviewers are obviously entitled to their own opinions, and we respect that completely.”
“We care more about how you all enjoy the game and how long you all play the game vs. what its metacritic score is.
As for direct actions, we’ll continue to adapt as fast as possible to things we know aren’t working well. For example we know that Progression needs reworking and that’s on our roadmap as something we need to change – some things can be done quicker than others.
In the meantime we’ll improve and expand on what works and rework or eliminate what doesn’t. Your feedback directly impacts what features fall in which bucket.”
Apparently, the will to bring back the Galactic Conquest mode exists.
“I played a ton of Galactic Conquest in the old games and I would love to bring it back. If we ever did it, it would have to be large enough and deep enough to belong in a Star Wars game in 2017. But yeah, I’d love to take a stab at delivering that at some point. We’ll see!”
The team is also prototyping an update to spawn waves to allow parties to stay together.
“I don’t believe in just taking a feature from one game and tossing into this one. We’ve tried it several times and it doesn’t work that way. We don’t have the same levels as Battlefield, our environments and what you expect from the planets we build are different, nor do we have the same game modes for the same reason. That being said, we’re currently prototyping an update to our spawn waves that allow parties to stay together and spawn on each other. No timeline yet, but we’ll let you know.”
If you’re wondering how much creative freedom developers get from Disney and Lucasarts, wonder no more.
“We have tons of creative freedom. It’s probably safe to say that Star Wars games are more authentic and stick closer to the films, TV-shows, comic books and other medium than before, but you also have a lot more to draw from these days. For example, when we sit down and look at roadmaps for future content, we’re looking at years and years of development and we’d still not be close to emptying the “Star Wars Vault” of cool stuff to create.”
So, how quickly will those changes be rolled out to the live servers? The answer is “it depends.”
“It depends on the type of change, it’s difficult to give you specific dates but as we get closer, we will. The credit based on performance I mentioned in another question (we are changing the percentage of your score factored into your credit reward from 20% and increasing it) is a quicker change, while larger progression overhauls might take a little longer.”
Yesterday, Electronic Arts CFO Blake Jorgensen talked about the issue of microtransactions and live services as well. If you want to read more about Star Wars: Battlefront II, you can also enjoy our preliminary review.
The game will release for PS4, Xbox One and PC on November 17th.