Star Wars Battlefront II had a famously bad launch, what with the lootbox controversy and pay-to-win mechanics stealing all the thunder from what should have been the biggest gaming-related Star Wars event of the year. Electronic Arts quickly apologised for the situation without changing anything, but a stern call from Disney caused the publisher to immediately backtrack and remove the game's microtransactions.
Since then, EA has mostly gone silent -- aside from a couple of unfortunate comments. While originally promising weekly updates, Q&A's, and dev diary communication, the Battlefront II team's presence has instead virtually disappeared from the internet, with the only interaction coming in the way of "we're aware" posts pertaining player-reported problems. Now, it seems EA has gone one step further than radio silence, and it's been actively censoring the community all along.
According to several reports we received, the Electronic Arts Official Battlefront II forums have been under lockdown for the past month. The community seems forbidden from criticising the game or talking about current non-technical issues, and any posts on the subject get either instantly deleted or blocked from being posted. Discussions that have been on-going for a while and steer too close to negative criticism also mysteriously vanish overnight, and perhaps more weirdly, the Battlefront II forum is not even listed on EA's "All forums" page at the time of writing.
The worrisome part is that this sort of thing has purposely been happening for a long time. According to several users who spoke to GameWatcher, EA did a similar crackdown of Battlefront I forums when the DLC controversy started, and that practice in turn originated in the days of Battlefield 3. Unfortunately, that arbitrary ban line is still in effect, as we know of at least one case where the poster -- while not exactly flattering and polite-- was far from vitriolic, either.
With EA enforcing their moderator rights in order to control the narrative, players have taken to Reddit as ways of venting their frustration at both the game and the way EA has been handling feedback. Some users have taken to compiling the now-standard list of game problems, while others have taken the more civil approach and respectfully reached out to developers.
One of the latter claimed to have had success in reaching a member of the team, and the conversation he shared stated that the reason for the lack of communication comes down to policies being enforced upon the team. According to screenshots of a conversation with producer Ali Hassoon, there are policies in place preventing him from talking to fans in either voice or written form like he used to do. The nature of those policies or their source is not disclosed, and I've reached out to Hassoon for comment but did not receive a reply by the time of publishing.
While Battlefront and EA are both no strangers to controversy, this may shed a light in a so-far under the radar attitude which sadly appears to have become common practice by part of the publisher. Enforcing a crack down of their official forums and shunning any voice that does not agree with the company's spin on the product can have dire consequences, especially since the developers encourage players to report to the forums for feedback and have all but withdrew from Reddit and other social media sites. If these claims are true, let's hope the company starts to treat its community more like consumers, and less like enemies.
More as it develops.