A petition on Change.org asking Disney to revoke EA’s licensing agreement for Star Wars is picking up steam. Originally posted just prior to the release of Star Wars: Battlefront II, the petition now has 31,000 signatures. Posted by John Hunt of London, UK the petition includes a long, laundry list of grievances with EA.
Hunt writes that “EA have (sic) had the Star Wars video game license for the last 4 years. [I]n that time they’ve proven to their consumers that they honestly don’t care about the gameplay experience or content. They’d rather rush out a game that will try and milk as much money out of consumers as possible.”
Hunt goes on to list reasons why he believes Disney should sever ties with EA.
- The lack of content in Battlefront
- The cancellation of Project Ragtag and the shuttering of Visceral Games
- The loot box controversy of Battlefront II
- Star Cards, microtransactions etc
In the lead up to the release of Star Wars: Battlefront II, fans voiced concerns over the length of time it would take to unlock certain characters. An EA Community Manager responded by calling fans “arm chair developers.” In response to the backlash, EA announced it was lowering the requirements to unlock characters.
Fans were still concerned with EA’s business model for Battlefront II. One analyst however, suggested that games were underpriced and that publisher’s like EA should be charging more. He also stated that the outrage over microtransactions was an overreaction.
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In the wake of the controversy, Belgium’s Gaming Commission released a statement describing loot boxes as gambling. Belgium’s Minister of Justice Koen Geens spoke of going to the EU to have the feature banned across Belgium and Europe. Hawaiian State Representative Chris Lee held a press conference to announce he would be combatting predatory practices like loot boxes.
Lee was particularly critical of EA and called Battlefront II a “Star Wars themed casino.” Closer to home, the Victorian Gambling Authority stated that it considered loot boxes to be gambling, but that current legislation includes little recourse. In Queensland however, the state’s legislation would not permit loot boxes to fit the definition of gambling.
GamesBeat recently interviewed LucasFilm’s Senior Director of Brand Manager, Douglas Reilly. In that interview, it came to light that LucasFilm has a very hands-on involvement with the development of Star Wars titles. Reilly said, “We’ll have weekly meetings between the production teams and the marketing teams, with either EA in Redwood Shores or the individual teams in Stockholm and Montreal and Vancouver, wherever they have studios.
“We regularly go and visit in person, probably once a quarter, to sit with them, play builds of the games, walk through progress and where we’re going in the future.”
When asked about the backlash from fans regarding loot boxes and microtransactions, Reilly explained,”I think the challenge, and it’s one that everybody’s facing in this industry—running live services requires tuning and tweaking. Sometimes you don’t get things right the first try.
“Once you put it in the hands of hundreds or thousands or millions of players. You continue to learn how they interact with the things you’ve made, and you run into things you have to adjust along the way. That’s the unfortunate reality of making games with a live service component.”
When asked specifically about loot boxes, Reilly only said that LucasFilm wants players to have a good experience. He didn’t mention any specifics nor did he speak about microtransactions.
Star Wars: Battlefront II is available now.