“Angry” Joe Vargas managed to land an interview with Star Wars: Battlefront II producer at DICE, Paul Keslin. EA signed off on the interview for Keslin to address Vargas’ concerns regarding loot boxes and microtransactions in the game, and during the interview he gave the reasons as to why they appear in the $60 AAA game.
The video was posted up on YouTube on November 7th, 2017. You can view the half hour video below.
Joe asked them who came up with the idea to add loot boxes to a $60 game like Star Wars: Battlefront II – he insinuates that maybe it was EA, but also asks if it was a decision that DICE was behind. Keslin responded by saying that the reason they added loot boxes was because “it was mainly fans”. He says feedback from YouTube, Reddit and social media led EA and DICE to the decision to include the loot boxes into the game.
Joe then goes on to ask why does Star Wars: Battlefront II have loot boxes and why are they necessary. Keslin responded by saying…
“It allows us to give players the opportunity to, hopefully, try things that they’re not going to try. So we’ve seen at EA in some games [from the] past that if you tell players to too single-mindedly focus down a certain path they’ll try out two or three things they like and then not engage with the rest of the game. And then they might stop playing the game early, and we would prefer they play the game for a long time to come.
“We put a lot of time, love, and effort into these things, [and] we want to make sure that people keep playing them.”
Keslin mentions that loot boxes will allow players to try something different in the game that they otherwise wouldn’t try in the game. This doesn’t necessarily make a lot of sense given that thousands of games in the past have allowed gamers to progress through and unlock new content by looting it from chests, retrieving them as mission rewards, looting them off enemies, or purchasing them through NPC shops. Keslin doesn’t explain how loot boxes differ in Battlefront II from every other old-school method of unlocking content in every other game.
Regardless, the interview stiffly moves forward as Joe brings up another point of contention, relating to how much time and money would be required to unlock all the items for a specific class. There’s supposedly a default weapon for each standard character class and three additional weapons that can be unlocked.
According to Joe, you would need around 10,000 crafting points or 500 through 740 crates to unlock all the weapons for a specific character class. When Joe asked Keslin if his math was wrong and what was the actual number of crates required to unlock all the weapons for a single character class, Keslin replied by saying “I don’t know”. He said that he didn’t have the numbers but someone at DICE did.
Joe also brought up an issue with progression parity between players. He noted that his friend played on an MLG level and was racking up way more kills and score than him, but his friend was still awarded the same amount of points for unlocking a loot box.
According to Keslin, they have parity in place for player performance in order to keep the playing field level, saying…
“We still have the system in place where the time you spent in a match means how much you’ll get rewarded, because we want players to have a level playing field of progressing through crates at kind of a similar pattern there.
“Where skill comes into play, is how quickly you’re completing those challenges, which fuels you getting more credits, more crafting parts, more Star Cards, at a faster rate than unskilled players. So you don’t get it directly in the round per se, but you get [the credits] at the speed of which you’re completing all the challenges in the game.”
In other words, more skilled players won’t be rewarded with more points per round to unlock loot crates. They will have to complete specific challenges in order to earn points that can be used to unlock items.
Joe proposes the idea that maybe loot boxes should only be cosmetic items and not tied to progression. He also continually rebuffed Keslin about allowing players to unlock more powerful weapons through loot boxes, saying that weapon skins are fine but allowing people to get stronger by paying for items was not cool.
Joe also criticized Star Wars: Battlefront II for only having really lame emotes to unlock. He mentions that they really needed to step it up for the cosmetic items if they were going to go the loot box route, because he felt that the current loot box setup just isn’t enticing to the average gamer.
Keslin responded by saying that the cosmetic options at launch are all basically standard fare options because that’s what LucasFilm signed off on. Post launch, Keslin says that they hope to negotiate with LucasFilm and to expand on the cosmetic options by adding more weapons, skins, and other content to the loot boxes.
According to Keslin, they had to first only add “authentic” content from the Star Wars universe at launch.
For gamers who were still reluctant about Star Wars: Battlefront II due to the loot boxes, the interview from Keslin won’t change much. If you don’t care about loot boxes and you don’t mind supporting EA’s initiatives, feel free to support them when the game launches on November 17th for the PS4, Xbox One and PC.