Whether it was pre-planned marketing for the game’s release, or a reaction to heavy criticism of the game’s loot crates and progression system, the Reddit AMA for Star Wars: Battlefront 2 was always liable to be a bit of a nightmare.
Three developers from DICE were put forward for the AMA: Battlefront 2 design director Dennis Brannvall, executive producer John Wasilcyzk and multiplayer producer Paul Keslin. The general idea, as advertised, was to provide fans with “clarity and hope going forward” and “repair the bridge to our players”.
But hundreds of comments later, the bridge was arguably shakier than ever. Users walked away complaining the DICE developers didn’t fully acknowledge some of the frustrations players have. Furthermore, some of the developer responses were non-committal, leaving users with more questions than answers.
For instance, in a question asking about cosmetic loot boxes, Brannvall mentioned how DICE wasn’t able to get a customisation system into Battlefront 2 for launch:
In another question, Wasilcyzk was asked about whether the amount of time taken to unlock content was fair. He responded by saying that DICE’s averages “based on the Play First trial are much faster” than the public discourse was suggesting:
“We’ve seen the speculation about how long it takes players to earn things – but our averages based on the Play First trial are much faster than what’s out there,” Wasilcyzk said. “Nothing should feel unattainable and if it does, we’ll do what it takes to make sure it’s both fun and achievable. As we update and expand Arcade mode, we’ll be working towards making sure that players can continue to progress without daily limits.”
For a community already on edge about the structure of Battlefront 2 and increasingly on edge about the inclusion of microtransactions in general – even if the economics work out inverse to the optics – it was far from the satisfying, open dialogue Reddit AMAs are known for.
The top-rated reply from the entire AMA summed up the public reaction neatly:
Adding to all of this was the developer reaction to questions about star cards, which could be best summed up as “we’ll look at it”:
At the end of the session, Brannvall posted that they believed DICE had made “a really cool, fun and beautiful game” that was buried by resentment with the game’s progression system. “We will fix this,” he added.
But sympathy for EA – and DICE by association – is thin on the ground. At the time of writing, most of the top 15 threads in the Battlefront community sub-reddit suggest that feedback isn’t being heard, or had no intention of being considered in the first place:
A sample of the sentiment amongst the Battlefront community
Developers sacrifice an awful lot to bring games to life, usually their health and well-being, and it would be wrong and cruel to think that the DICE developers – or any of the DICE team – didn’t want to make the best game possible. But the studio is being tarred by association, and it may not even be their fault.
Developers will often test builds of modern games without microtransactions or monetisations. And it’s often down to publishers – as was bluntly explained with Project Cars 2 – how content gets divvied up for DLC or season passes, not the developers themselves.
But that understanding doesn’t explain away the lack of answers for two key questions: what changes will DICE implement, and when? Fans were no closer to those answers at the end of the AMA than the start. And if the DICE developers knew they couldn’t offer clear details about future changes, should they have done the AMA at all?