Thursday, November 30, 2017

More Trouble at EA as Stock Values Continues to Decline

So.

Electronic Arts is having a rough go of it.

7 months ago, CFO Blake Jorgensen claimed that Star Wars: Battlefront II would ship around 14 million copies within the first 5 months of release. However the game launched with 60% fewer physical sales compared to it's predecessor, Battlefront. It didn't break the Top 10 on the sales chart in the U.K. On Amazon right now, the game is nowhere to be found in the top 100 most-purchased. We have to wait a few weeks to get the full sales results from the U.S., Europe, and Asia, but it's not looking good for the publisher.

The backlash against Battlefront II has been big. It's been featured in Forbes and CNBC with almost daily updates. It's kind of impressive at how important news organizations are placing this situation, even if they don't quite understand why gamers are unhappy.

But for EA, this misstep with microtransactions will have long term consequences. The companies' stocks has taken an 8.5% loss over the past few days. That may seem small, but when you're dealing with millions of dollars, it adds up quickly. Investors are even more concerned since Battlefront II was released with microtransactions turned off - which cuts into their bottom line. This may cause some to sell their shares now while they are still able to make a profit. EA is still holding fast to their believe that the game will sell, they will recoup from the losses, and microtransactions will be in the game at a future date.

Speaking with investors on Tuesday, Jorgensen commented that the uproar was a "great learning experience." There is no date on when microtransactions will return to the game, but EA is looking to find a balance while current players rack up crystals and credits.

EA, however, is still making a mess of the situation. Jorgensen also spoke on Tuesday at the Credit Suisse 21st Annual Technology, Media & Telecom Conference. When someone asked why the loot boxes didn't focus on cosmetic items only, instead of making them full of weapons, gear, and star cards that could significantly improve a person's stats, Jorgensen blamed it on Disney. "The one thing we're very focused on and they're extremely focused on is not violating the canon of Star Wars. It's an amazing brand that's been built over many, many years. So if you did a bunch of cosmetic things, you might start to violate the canon. 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."

We put Wookies in bikinis in Star Wars: Galaxies. There are pink, white, orange, yellow, and aqua dyes in Star Wars: The Old Republic to apply to all of your gear. Cosmetic options for characters in Star Wars is feasible. So don't act like it's not, EA.

The EA/Battlefront saga continues and we'll keep updating as the story evolves.

Also, a special thank you to the gamers who cancelled their pre-orders and boycotted the game. Remember: money, not words, is the biggest motivator for companies. By not buying the game, you sent a strong message to EA that their pay-to-win microtransactions on a $60 game will not be tolerated. I'd like to think my review helped in the endeavor, but it's unlikely.

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