"You probably don't want Darth Vader in pink." That's what Electronic Arts CFO Blake Jorgensen had to say about how canon played a role in why cosmetic microtransactions aren't part of the overall monetization plans for Star Wars Battlefront II.
The publisher temporarily disabled microtransactions in Star Wars Battlefront II in the hours before its worldwide launch, largely due to widespread controversy over the relationship between the game's complex progression systems and its loot crates.
"We pulled off on the [microtransactions] , because the real issue the consumer had was they felt it was a pay-to-win mechanic," Jorgensen said in a report on the Credit Suisse 21st Annual Technology, Media & Telecom Conference from GamesIndustry.Biz. Jorgensen defended the model saying, "The reality is there are different types of players in games."
And when asked why EA didn't pursue a microtransaction model centered around cosmetic options rather than gameplay boosts, Jorgensen said that's not as easy as it sounds when dealing with an established IP, invoking the importance of canon to both EA and LucasArts, the video game licensing subsidiary of LucasFilm.
"The one thing we're very focused on and they're extremely focused on is not violating the canon of Star Wars," Jorgensen said. "It's an amazing brand that's been built over many, many years. So if you did a bunch of cosmetic things, you might start to violate the canon. Darth Vader in white probably doesn't make sense, versus in black. Not to mention you probably don't want Darth Vader in pink. No offense to pink, but I don't think that's right in the canon."
Jorgensen didn't specify when microtransactions could be reactivated but remained devoted to the idea. "We're not giving up on the notion of [microtransactions,]" Jorgensen said. "We're learning and listening to the community in terms of how best to roll that out in the future, and there's more to come as we learn more. But I would say we're certainly not changing our strategy.
"We think the strategy of deeply engaging games, keeping the community together, and allowing people to play those games with new content coming via events over time is critical to the future of our business. We feel like we've nailed that in the sports games, and we'll continue to try and find the best model that works in the non-sports games."
While Jorgensen makes a valid point regarding trying to get the interests of the rights holder on the same page as the interests of the publisher, invoking canon seems like an unusual defense, given that Battlefront II's multiplayer modes send up the notion of canon entirely. You can have Rey fighting in planetary conflicts before her time, while Yoda and Kylo Ren might square off despite coming from different eras.
Still, the publisher does have a point, in that wherever EA says they want to go with monetization options might not be where Disney and LucasFilm want to go, regardless of the internal logic of the games or the franchise. Still, this only lends credence to the notion that EA's control over Battlefront II's future is dictated by whatever designs Disney and LucasFilm's have for the Star Wars brand.