When Star Wars Battlefront 2 launched in April, there was a lot of controversy surrounding the game; particularly about the way that micro-transactions were handled. To the surprise of many gamers, EA and DICE released the game to the general public (Microtransactions existed briefly when it launched early on EA Access) without micro-transactions after a ton of backlash. It was such an unexpected move, and one that I felt needed to happen. Micro-transactions and loot boxes have been hot topics in the video game industry over the past few months, that even the mention of them can send people into a fury.
Star Wars Battlefront 2 sold 9 million copies in the same time it took the 2015’s Star Wars Battlefront to sell over 14 million copies. Here is an excerpt from Polygon regarding the franchise’s sales numbers.
EA sold about 9 million copies of Battlefront 2 during the three-month period from October-December 2017, the third quarter of EA’s 2018 fiscal year, according to the Wall Street Journal. (The game launched almost exactly halfway through the quarter, on Nov. 17, 2017.) That was about 1 million fewer than the 10 million copies that EA had expected to sell, the newspaper reports.
Blake Jorgensen, the company’s chief financial officer, told the Wall Street Journal that the publisher’s guidance calls for sales of another 1 million to 3 million copies by the fiscal year’s conclusion at the end of March. The higher end of that estimate would still put Battlefront 2 behind its predecessor — EA shipped more than 14 million units of the original Star Wars Battlefront in its 2016 fiscal year.
When Star Wars Battlefront launched in 2015, gamers were not happy about the lack of a single-player campaign. EA and DICE learned from their mistake by announcing the sequel with so many things that consumers wanted to hear. These included: a full campaign, robust multiplayer, and my favorite highlight; all the DLC would be free. The company absolutely nailed the announcement, but all of that was undone when the micro-transaction fiasco was uncovered. It made every great thing EA and DICE did null and void. There was no way to recover from this. Unfortunately, the sales numbers, while still great, show that people do take these issues seriously.
I’m a huge fan of the Star Wars franchise. While I don’t read the comics and novels, I always watch the films and play all the video games as they’re released. Honestly, Star Wars Battlefront 2 is an awesome game. It’s flawed, but what game isn’t? What saddens me is that people aren’t really talking about it anymore. Sure, there was DLC that released alongside Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and there will be more content released soon, but how many people are really looking forward to it? Now that micro-transactions will be coming back, is there such a thing as good press for Star Wars Battlefront 2?
Look, we knew that microtransactions were coming back but should they have? EA is a massive corporation that will make substantial amounts of money every single year. They clean up with Ultimate Teams in both Madden and FIFA while getting large player-bases in Battlefield games. This year will see a new game in each of these flagship franchises. Not only that, EA will be launching the charming looking FE later this month and the highly anticipated A Way Out next month. There are so many ways for the company to make a lot of money in 2018. Why ruin a good thing by tainting not only EA’s name but Star Wars Battlefront 2 as well?
In the link posted above, Blake Jorgensen, EA’s Finance Chief said the following about Star Wars Battlefront 2 and microtransactions.
We’ll do it when we think it’s ready.
Microtransaction will never die. Let’s be real here; they bring in so much revenue yearly for all companies. In 2016, it was reported that Rockstar made $500 million from Grand Theft Auto Online.
Because of new information from Rockstar North President Leslie Benzies’ $150M lawsuit against the company, new information is coming to light about just how successful GTA Online is. Namely, the mode has moved $500M in microtransactions, with a nearly 100% profit margin thanks to the minimal costs associated with them. Outside of mobile games, whose entire model is based on microtransactions, no other title even comes close to these kinds of numbers.
Clearly, gamers continue to purchase loot boxes and microtransactions, so why stop now? EA would make far less than they do now. But you know what? The saying “money talks” is more important than it has ever been. The sales for Star Wars Battlefront 2 show that gamers truly “talk with their wallet.” As a collective unit, we spoke up, and EA listened. Why the company would backtrack now is beyond me.
EA has learned nothing from the Star Wars Battlefront kerfuffle. Instead of taking a loss and learning how to improve going forward, they are instead working on further distancing itself from the player-base. EA should really cut its losses and put the game on EA Access sooner than later. Doing this will get the game into the hands of more gamers faster, and improve their numbers. When the new Battlefield launches in the fall, there will no doubt be microtransactions. I fear that EA will have something similar to what Star Wars Battlefront 2 at launch. Since loot boxes overtook the gaming industry late last year, that’s all people talked about. In fact, when working on Game of the year topics, the Xbox Enthusiast team considered putting loot boxes on the list of the biggest blunders of the year. Since the beginning of the year, I’ve heard next to nothing about loot boxes and microtransactions. With this statement from Jorgensen making the rounds, it’s back in the spotlight.
I feel like EA won’t take the lesson they “learned” to heart and we’ll see some terrible practices later this year. Honestly, and I want to call this right now, EA is hoping that we’ll forget all of this and that the situation will go away over time. We can’t let that happen. I don’t think microtransactions are inherently evil like many do, I just think they should be handled with care. The spotlight is now on EA more than ever. With the next few releases, EA will have the chance to prove if they are consumer friendly or if greed will be front and center of their latest titles. 2018 is going to be an interesting year for the gaming industry, and EA has the chance to make a difference. The ball is in EA’s court. The only question is; what are they going to do?