Several reports have surfaced indicating that Disney executives had a talking to Electronic Arts about curtailing the microtransactions in Star Wars: Battlefront II just ahead of its release. Presumably this was due to several international gambling commissions opening investigations into Electronic Arts and Activision for unlicensed gambling in games like Overwatch and Star Wars: Battlefront II.
VentureBeat is reporting that EA’s CEO, Andrew Wilson, had a phone call with Walt Disney’s consumer products and interactive media chairman, Jimmy Pitaro. Apparently Pitaro informed Wilson about the (negative) news spreading about the microtransactions and loot boxes in Battlefront II, and wanted EA to withdraw plans to include the loot boxes during launch.
The news actually did hit the mainstream sector when CNN reported on the fiasco that had been building since the loot boxes were announced earlier this year during the EA Play event.
CNN brought the news about the loot boxes to the masses, by informing them about the Belgian Gaming Commission opening an investigation into Star Wars: Battlefront II for introducing gambling to minors, since the game is only rated ‘T’ for Teen.
One of the major factors for Disney possibly getting involved is that CNN reached out to Disney for comment, especially after an image went viral on Facebook blaming Disney for allowing gambling in Star Wars: Battlefront II.
Disney declined to comment to CNN for the article that was published on November 16th, 2017.
On November 17th, 2017 Pitaro contacted Wilson.
Game Informer also reported that Ben Fritz from the Wall Street Journal clarified that Pitaro contacting Wilson came at the behest of Disney’s CEO, Bob Iger, who was reportedly displeased with the mainstream attention that the Star Wars brand was receiving in correlation with unsanctioned gambling.
Bob Iger did not talk to EA’s CEO. But he was upset about the “Star Wars: Battlefront II” microtransaction debacle and another exec, Jimmy Pitaro, expressed Disney’s displeasure to EA. https://t.co/Q7L1a9fMoX
— Ben Fritz (@benfritz) November 17, 2017
Electronic Arts did announce that they were temporarily disabling microtransactions in Star Wars: Battlefront II for the time being, but that they would be bringing them back at some undisclosed point in the future. The company also clarified to shareholders that the disabling of the microtransactions would not impact the fiscal 2018 forecasts, so expect EA to turn them back on before the quarter is out.
Some gamers are hoping that Disney pulls the Star Wars license from EA. Others are hoping EA corrects course. Many are hoping that EA will get fined, sanctioned, and regulated by the various gambling commissions.