The loot boxes in Star Wars Battlefront II couldn't contain cosmetic items because EA didn't want to mess with Star Wars' established fiction, the publisher says.
Earlier this month, following a week of fan outrage over Battlefront II's monetisation strategies and accusations the game featured a "pay to win" multiplayer system, EA took the rather extreme step of temporarily removing microtransactions from the shooter just hours before it was due to launch.
Fast forward to today at the Credit Suisse Annual Technology, Media and Telecom Conference, where EA chief financial officer Blake Jorgensen was asked why the game's loot crates couldn't just contain cosmetic items, as those in games like Team Fortress 2, CS: GO, and Overwatch do.
“The one thing we're very focussed on and [Lucasfilm] are extremely focussed on is not violating the canon of Star Wars,” Jorgensen replied.
“It's an amazing brand that’s been built over many, many years, and so if you did a bunch of cosmetic things, you might start to violate the canon, right? 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.
“So, there might be things that we can do cosmetically, and we’re working with Lucas[film] on that. But coming into it, it wasn’t as easy as if we were building a game around our own IP where it didn’t really matter," he added.
"It matters in Star Wars, because Star Wars fans want realism. But Star Wars fans may also want to tailor things – a different coloured lightsaber, things like that. So you might see some of that.”
That's some odd reasoning given that Battlefront II's multiplayer modes already violate canon by having all eras battle together, and also given that there are many canon outfit variants of all Star Wars' major characters, so palette swaps wouldn't need to occur.
Whatever the case, EA is yet to outline when it is bringing presumably-retooled loot crates back into the game.