The backlash was swift and fierce when Star Wars Battlefront 2's progression system was revealed to be based around loot boxes.
But in the wake of that controversy, which saw EA hastily move to make crucial balance changes, DICE multiplayer producer Paul Keslin says that it was a good opportunity for the publisher to hear what fans want.
"It was a good, healthy conversation for us to understand how players see the crates—at least the iteration we have in beta," Keslin says. "Like we did in the last game, like we did a little bit in alpha, and what we've done in beta—we're listening to players, understanding what attracts them to the game, and what works well and what doesn't. So that was a big one for us to say, 'Okay, got it.'"
Battlefront 2's loot boxes sparked controversy during the beta because they affected gameplay and stats—traditionally a red line for microtransactions. They contained "epic" cards that could boost attack as high as 40 percent, theoretically opening the door for players to buy up loot boxes until they received overpowered gear.
The mechanic was heavily criticized by many in the press and community. Our sister site Eurogamer called it an "exploitative and greedy" system, and expressed surprise that it had made it as far as the beta.
In the wake of the beta, DICE quickly made changes to the loot boxes, progression gating epic gear and making some of the most powerful items only available via crafting.
Keslin says that there was a "little bit of misinformation" around the loot crates. "It was an incomplete system since it was just a slice of the game. But it was a good opportunity for us to say, 'Okay, there are opportunities to improve this.' So again, it didn't so much catch us offguard, it was a good way to start off the conversation internally."
He continued, "We're spending a lot of time on ensuring that we've balanced everything properly. That's something we'll continue to look at—what are players saying, as well as looking at our own data. What is working well, not working well, underperforming, overperforming. But we also want to make sure that newer players aren't coming in and just getting destroyed. So that's a bit of our matchmaking. But that also means that, as part of the beta feedback, we made sure to rank gate or progression gate certain things to make sure that people can't instantly grab top-end items."
Keslin says that the team will endeavor to continue to address all feedback pertaining to the multiplayer through the launch of Battlefront 2 and beyond.
You'll be able to decide for yourself whether Battlefront 2's loot boxes are acceptable when it launches on November 17. Needless to say, microtransactions are making quite a bit of money, so they're likely to keep getting prevalent in major multiplayer games.
For more info on Star Wars Battlefront 2, check out our hub containing everything we know so far.