Battlefront 2 AMA Leaves Users Unsatisfied, Angry

Image: Kotaku

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?

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Comments

    I can attest the game itself is beautiful and fun to play. Seriously it's a pick up and play, run and gun fun fest. Playing as a storm trooper or droid is just an authentic experience as I run in, shoot and miss and die.

    It took my 15 or so matches for me to unlock Darth Vader who is the most expensive hero to unlock. So there's no problem with the hero unlocking part of the game. The Star Cards system needs to be overhauled though. Maybe have a different mode where Star Cards are used and another where they are not. I can mow down some players like butter and others take 30 seconds more of blaster fire due to having a high health card.

    Seriously though it's such amazing game and if you are a Star Wars fan bypass the negativity and get it. It literally makes you feel like you're in the universe there.

      Yeah, I'm enjoying it too. I enjoyed the first one too, though, and found the online criticism of it didn't really resonate with me.

      The loot box stuff. Eh, I'm not crazy about it, but honestly barely effects me. Like in any other shooter that has progressive unlocks, I'll find an early setup and learn to do well with it against people with better gear.

      The campaign is good. I'm playing on hard, but kind of very annoyed that Iden Versio or Leia can't do a dodge roll. That's my bread and butter as a run and gunner.

      That's what I've been hearing a lot from friends who have played it. That it's fun and loot boxes don't really impact as much as the internet says.

      Sure, it might be a fun game. I fully imagine that the developers actually put a ton of work and effort into making it the best game they could. But there is no way that I am supporting EA and validating their behaviour by buying the game.

      EA have essentially made a paid game that is also pay to win. There are significant power differences for players with better gear in a multiplayer PvP focused game. It's a huge time investment to reach the top tier, which can be skipped via paying real money.

      This is bad and predatory behaviour from a publisher that already has a bad track record: destroying dev houses it acquires, mistreating staff, and disrespecting customers.

      I've explicitly not bought some games that looked interest simply because they were released by EA - some I've waited to drop significantly in price, others I've never bought. I've done that because I disapprove of EA's behaviour.

      Some people love Star Wars a lot and have decided that this is the point where it has gone too far for them. I commend those people if they actually follow through and refuse to buy the product entirely - and not do a "Boycott Modern Warfare 2" debacle where most people complaining just went ahead and bought the game anyway.

        That's the thing though. It's not "pay to win". It's definitely got a "Pay to unlock different things for your class" but as someone who has unlocked all the cards for the class I'm playing I can tell you most just alter your play style. Apart from maybe one or two that give you little mini buffs, most trooper cards are just things that change an ability into a different one which isn't necessarily better. I'm at the point where I can craft any card and I'm sitting there going.. meh none of these are really must haves. People have blown it up without even playing it.

        And by no means am I supporting microtransactions, but like I said it's definitely not pay to win. I get killed by people that are level 1 with no items just as much as people that are "higher" levels with 3 cards that are fully maxed. You can't actually use crystals (the currency you purchase) to unlock heroes, so I spent my first 15k credits unlocking Vader, then I realised that half the time unless you're owning you don't get to play as a hero. And the times I did have good games there were already 10 heroes unlocked with the base game that I could play as.

        No trooper class gets a health buff from cards only hero classes. And if you wanted that card you could just craft it easily yourself. And to get different weapons for your class you need to kill a certain number with that class, you can't pay to unlock them.

        Total rant here but it's really not a pay to win mechanic. What will help people win is their actual in game skill. Of which I was severely lacking.

        Problems I do have with the game - matchmaking lobby is broken especially if you're in a group. We struggled to get into games with 3+ more members in a party. And also some maps are HEAVILY in favor of defence.

          So you're saying this clip isn't accurate?

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7TmXpCJI8s&feature=youtu.be

          I hear some people saying "it's not a pay to win mechanic" - but it LITERALLY IS. You either play for a significant time period or pay real money to make your game experience more powerful than another player in a NON SKILL BASED MANNER. That is a pure definition of pay to win.

          I do not support it and I will not support it. This is bad behaviour, and the fact that gamers are willing to accept it seems a sad reflection on how some people are apparently willing to accept being gouged for content that's already on their disc/console/computer.

          "EA - It's in the game"*

          * Provided you play for 60 hours or pay an extra $150 to unlock content already in the game files. Batteries sold separately.

    OK so enough is enough with this shit. EA is cancer. Plain and simple. These business practices and straight garbage and make for a shitty gaming experience. Blind Freddy knows this. We all know this. This game shouldn’t be on Kotaku’s radar anymore. Everyone knows by now what they’re doing when they put something like this game out. If people want to buy it - that’s on them. But to continue covering this bucket of pretty shit is never going to effect change. Drop it from peoples radar. Hopefully people stop supporting this model and they are forced to change to engage the market again.

      I see what you're saying, but I don't think - and I'm not talking about Battlefront here, but just in general - pretending something isn't happening or that it doesn't exist is the answer. Calling something out, being persistent with it, and reinforcing that awareness is more responsible, and more effective long term. But again, I'm just talking in general (specifically, I'm thinking of the Adani protests recently, or the Franklin Dam protests in the late '70s).

        This is true - sometimes. Other times, any publicity is good publicity. Journalists are between a rock and a hard place here. Their mission is to report objectively, but in doing so, can draw attention from readers that otherwise wouldn't have noticed or cared. This article reports accurately on the community outrage and should be praised. But in just saying the name of the game, it can be interpreted in a variety of different ways. You can't win :(

        I absolutely agree with you in regard to pretending that things don't exist. I think highlighting a serious problem or threat and breaking it down for someone to understand is the right thing to do. Knowledge is power no doubt. But when we are talking about consumer products that are marketed in such a way to elicit a response from a group of people that is designed to take more than it deserves or is lacking in an overall quality experience - I think that continuing to cover it lends it weight whether it's intended to or not. The hype train runs on both shitty feedback and praise. EA are trying very hard to change the game (pun intended) and they need engagement to do it. I see this game being continually covered in the gaming press (in the vein of Destiny) at a disproportionate rate to other, quality gaming experiences. It won't change in any meaningful way because ultimately the business men running this now don't want it to. To keep refreshing in everyone's mind how shitty it is does nothing worthwhile that I can see anyway.

        I think it's like all journalism. Media has to report on what will get the clicks. And at the moment this is the hot topic that's getting the clicks.

        Like I've said previously it's just a shame EA has cocked this up so much. I get they're a business and they need to make money but as everyone else has said, they could've charged for cosmetics (lets be honest people would still complain they do for PUBG) to make money. It should never be a thing to pay to win.

        I feel for the game developers as they must've worked their butts off to make this thing. It's such a labor of love to Star Wars.

        And I hear what he's saying though... It is getting tiring each day to say articles which are saying the same thing we all know. EA sucks.. Greed is bad. Gamers are mad

        This will probably play out like every other time. EA will do some small gesture and put it on the back burner for a while. We'll get sick of complaining and lay off it. You'll run out of things to report about it. Then we'll all forget. So even though it's a bit futile thanks for trying to stick with this stuff as long as possible. I'm sure you get more sick of this stuff than anyone.

      Articles that engender and talk about outrage get more clicks.

    This train wreck has been enjoyable to follow.

    Their reddit page leaves this gamer unsatisfied and deeply disturbed.

    There is absolutely nothing they could have ever said could satisfy the blood lust that is brewing there. It's that simple. Nothing. They want a "remove all loot boxes" guarantee, immediately. Even IF that was to happen it would weeks at the very least. Look I get all the arguments and agree with a lot of the stuff. But so many of those gamers are frankly nuts. They have lost all sense of composure, respect and worse, any sense of reality or context. And so much of it is just online revolutionaries (rent a crowd) fighting a fight because it is there to fight. I have a hard time believe some people care even half as much as they claim they do. All I could think is: imagine if these games stood up to real issues that affect others players in gaming, like online misogyny. Instead they are just getting upset because they have to grind (what we used to call playing) to unlock a digital character in a game.

    Sure I understand the loot boxes are terrible, sure the levelling and rewards are slow, to a mobile gaming level of badness and I will always understand all hate towards Evilcorp but man I have ZERO interest in joining or buying what ever that digital lynch mob is selling.

    If that makes me 'the problem with modern gaming' so be it. I am at least grounded with the idea, that the things they want change (some of which I do to) will take weeks if not months of negotiations between business partners, it was never going to happen in the space of 48 hours or instantaneously because a reddit user asked a question. As some seem to think it should.

      Respect? For EA? Some people may be going too far but most of the people upset over this just want a basic hint of accountability or admission that yes, EA think so little of it's customers that it expects us to pay for a rather expensive game and then pay again to get around something that went from a friendly grind in other games of the genre to a full on paywall.

      I'm not saying you're the problem with modern gaming, but I do think you're letting a distaste for conflict seeming led by a group you dislike lead you down a path of accepting an extremely unfair business practice. Maybe I'm wrong but it really does feel like you're cutting EA a lot more slack than it deserves because you have even less respect for these types of people.

        Respect for the game developers. (sure it couldnt hurt for people to be also mindful not everyone who works for EA is responsible for its badness, I have read multiple things where people were tearing into support staff, thats like yelling at a teenager counter staff because your Big Mac doesnt look like the picture) Some gamers really have no clue the difference between Developers and publishers. EA controls the Star Wars game franchise, without them it wouldnt exist. EA also controls the purse strings. Some seriously blame DICE for working with them, as if it is a choice, as in they are making a deal with the devil. Complete devoid of the notion that without EA (and the Star Wars rights) there is no way DICE could have made this themselves.

        Likewise they have no idea the level of bureaucracy involved in making a game, they seem surprised that corporations dont make games for games. Especially something complicated like Star Wars. There was never going to be a single answer, to defuse this immediately. Because, and I hate to say it, games are not the key stakeholders in game making and havent been since even the days of Atari.

        My comment about respect is about common human decency. I respect my enemies every bit as I respect my family. Unless you are willing to see the people you hate through their own eyes, no matter how vile and repugnant it is, whats the use? Sure developers like DICE, are part of the problem but at the same time, they are just as caught up in the system as the gamers themselves are. They are still human beings, going to work, and should not have to deal with this type of hate.

        Respect? For EA? Some people may be going too far but most of the people upset over this just want a basic hint of accountability or admission that yes, EA think so little of it's customers that it expects us to pay for a rather expensive game and then pay again to get around something that went from a friendly grind in other games of the genre to a full on paywall.

        If you look at how much money the make off them because people buy them they are giving people what they want. If people didn't want them they wouldn't buy them.

      This thing was pure damage control for the sake of PR. They had no intention of answering the real questions that most folks wanted an answer to. I would expect that a decent amount of the vitriol you witnessed was an understandable emotional response to having their intelligence directly insulted by those non-commital responses that barely acknowledged there was anything actually wrong at all.

      It bore remarkable similarities to the corporate, "I'm sorry you were offended," non-apology that we know so well translates to, "We don't think we did anything wrong, so please shut up and fuck off." Though in this case, it was more, "We know what you don't like, and we're going to carefully avoid addressing it, because we both know that there's nothing we're going to - or can - do about it thanks to the publisher gun to our studio's head."

        "I'm sorry you were offended," that pisses me off so much, ever since a doctor insulted me and used it

      So it's cool that they unnecessarily fked the game (Because greed) in the first place because you believe they will make changes to the very things no one wanted in game in the first place, "instead they're just upset because they have to grind(What we use to call playing) To unlock a digital character in a game" The original Star Wars Battlefront 2 didn't have this grind but sure, It's not the EA/Dice's fault, It's the consumers who are wrong right? Because you brought the game & now are continuing your support of these practices by belittle-ing ppl who do take issue with pay to win elements in a full priced game. Jesus Christ .

        the original Battlefront 2 was a completely different generation of gaming. it cant be compared, if only though. I am not saying the consumers are wrong, I dont like a lot of the ways the game does things, I was pretty clear about that, but it the mass hysteria and irrationality over SOME of the gamers response that makes me think, that while there are very real issues that needed to be solved, it is being hijacked by rent-a-crowd just there to cause trouble (the very same ALWAYS happens in real like protests as well). Its the thugs that are murking the issues.

        PS buying a game is not "continuing the support of their practises". I paid money for a game that offers value for money for what it physically offers. If I was buy loot crates weekly (which I have zero plans for) that would be "continuing the support of their practises". and ewww pay to win, yeah, not a fan. it never ceases to amaze me how some gamers cant see grey. the "either you are with us or you are our enemy" approach to judgement.

        Can i ask who 'we' are in relation to what we used to call playing?
        I predate computers, i've watched the birth of the PC and the rise of the consoles.

        What i used to call playing was sitting down and enjoying a game - this is not a grind.
        Getting every red coin on the way to 120 stars - that in itself is playing a game.
        Just like running around outside on the weekend and playing with your kids, its enjoyable.

        Running around and around in circles on the same map day in day out for minuscule return is grinding, going to work everyday to make ends meet is grinding, you dont do it for fun in the end, you do it as a means to and end. Hence.. the daily grind.

        Can i ask? are you on the DICE or EA payroll?
        Sounds like what they call 'victim blaming' coming from your mouth

      If that makes me 'the problem with modern gaming' so be it. I am at least grounded with the idea, that the things they want change (some of which I do to) will take weeks if not months of negotiations between business partners, it was never going to happen in the space of 48 hours or instantaneously because a reddit user asked a question. As some seem to think it should.

      Funny how they just disabled microtransactions in the game. Didnt take weeks or months of negotiations. They just did it overnight.

      Are you literally contrarion on everything? Anytime there is widespread united outrage about anything you take the opposite view and try to discredit the other side through your illogical and inane rants.

      You dont want to join the rest us trying to stop these terrible practices? Fine, Sit down and shut up.

        yes but notice the FINE PRINT, its a momentary set back for them, there is absolutely no way they would completely change the entire income model for the game over night. That money they still want has to come from somewhere. Basically this decision was a bandaid on a gaping wound. The better fixes (what I was talking about will take time).

        Yes of course this game, any game, can turn off off microtransactions overnight. Both from a game side of things and from a platform side of things, the game couldnt launch without such a feature from both ends. Solving the huge ugly financial business model EA has in place, however, that will take time. Which was virtually what their press release said.

        As for seeing things in a contrary fashion take that as a compliment. Given most game hysteria is all kinds of ridiculous, I pride myself at looking at the issues as an adult. YET as I have been very clear here: I hate the loot crates in this game, the pay for win aspect, Evilcorp and everything they touch, the levelling is too slow. So I am not sure how that in contrary to public opinion... I just refused to jump on board digital lynch mobs that screams for people to be sack, or gamers insulting support staff just doing their job when they dont even have enough intelligence to know not every company's support lines are actually employed by the parent company. Even if they are employed by EA directly why do they deserve the hate and insults?! THAT is what I am contrary on, not the problems the with the game.

          It is easier to hate then understand, especially when their opinion is different.

            I greatly dislike people who tar all gamers with the same brush based on a couple of window lickers. Literally anytime there is outrage about something this guy takes a couple of morons and tars the entire group of outraged gamers in an attempt to discredit them.

        There is a report of a story that Disney gave EA a call about all the negative press it's been receiving. Apparently Disney doesn't like the negative coverage

    Developers sacrifice an awful lot to bring games to life, usually their health and well-being

    If developers are sacrificing their health and well-being then that is an employer issue, and doesn't excuse the quality of the product.

    "We worked our developers so hard they got sick and depressed, how dare you not like our game?"

      It is in fact another thing we let EA off the hook for simply because we got tired of complaining to a brick wall.

      Well, to be fair, I think it's more like, "We worked our asses off into sickness and depression only to fuck up our labour of love because we had a gun to our heads, could you please not add insult to injury by claiming it's because we're as evil as our bosses?"

        Excellent point, but on the other hand...

        Blue-Collar Man: Excuse me. I don't mean to interrupt, but what were you talking about?
        Randal: The ending of Return of the Jedi.
        Dante: My friend is trying to convince me that any contractors working on the uncompleted Death Star were innocent victims when the space station was destroyed by the rebels.
        Blue-Collar Man: Well, I'm a contractor myself. I'm a roofer... (digs into pocket and produces business card) Dunn and Reddy Home Improvements. And speaking as a roofer, I can say that a roofer's personal politics come heavily into play when choosing jobs.
        Randal: Like when?
        Blue-Collar Man: Three months ago I was offered a job up in the hills. A beautiful house with tons of property. It was a simple reshingling job, but I was told that if it was finished within a day, my price would be doubled. Then I realized whose house it was.
        Dante: Whose house was it?
        Blue-Collar Man: Dominick Bambino's.
        Randal: "Babyface" Bambino? The gangster?
        Blue-Collar Man: The same. The money was right, but the risk was too big. I knew who he was, and based on that, I passed the job on to a friend of mine.
        Dante: Based on personal politics.
        Blue-Collar Man: Right. And that week, the Foresci family put a hit on Babyface's house. My friend was shot and killed. He wasn't even finished shingling.
        Randal: No way!
        Blue-Collar Man: (paying for coffee) I'm alive because I knew there were risks involved taking on that particular client. My friend wasn't so lucky. (pauses to reflect) You know, any contractor willing to work on that Death Star knew the risks. If they were killed, it was their own fault. A roofer listens to this... (taps his heart) not his wallet.

      I think their point was that developers want to make the best possible game and then publishers come in and ruin it with pay to win transactions!

    No answer they could have given would have satisfied the mob mentality that has taken over the discussion.

    I'm loving the game. Sure end match results are poor. But after milestones after about 3 hours play i was sitting on 37k credits.

    Only imbalances I could see was in starfighter, some people have maxed their ships cards and tear it up in interceptors.

    I like the thumb nail used for this article given its context, it made me laugh.

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