EA has created a “moral compass” in order to avoid disastrous pay-to-win controversies that nearly destroyed Star Wars: Battlefront II.
As far as game publishers go, EA has become the literal embodiment of everything that is wrong in the industry. They push the developers to meet unrealistic release schedules based on profit-maximizing calendars, then release unfinished, bug-riddled games that require massive patches on day one. And that’s just if everything goes well.
Star Wars: Battlefront II had all those problems--which gamers have just come to expect from EA at this point--but also one huge disaster waiting to happen: a loot box system that was downright abysmal.
Besides the fact that the loot box system made it virtually impossible for anyone to unlock all the game's content no matter how much money you spent, it also fostered a "pay to win" economy by giving players that could afford it more potent power-ups and weapons than everyone else. The new player experience was awful since everyone who’d either been playing longer or simply had more money just had way better gear than you did.
The whole thing caused an uproar the likes of which EA has never seen. It gave them so much bad press that they eventually took down the entire loot box system and replaced it with one that only made players pay for random prosthetics.
Unfortunately for Star Wars, the damage had already been done. Despite the blockbuster price of development, it’ll never be a big game simply because it’s gained too toxic a reputation.
This time it seems that EA might be trying to learn from their mistakes. In an interview with GamesIndustry.biz, EA's VP of strategic growth Matt Bilbey said that EA will be adopting a “moral compass” as a direct result of the Battlefront II controversy.
We’re pretty sure he meant it figuratively, but we wouldn’t be surprised to find a literal compass with ends marked “good” and “bad.”
The basic tenants of the moral compass, according to Bilbey, are “fairness, value, and fun.” Developers working for EA will have to test their online services early on to make sure they adhere to these three pillars in order for them to get published.
We’ll have to wait for their next game to see just what EA considers to be “fairness” and “value.”