Star Wars: Battlefront 2 Underperforms, Microtransactions Coming Back
Microtransactions are coming back "in the next few months."
[UPDATE] EA confirmed to WSJ that Battlefront II shipped 9 million copies during its launch quarter. This is down significantly from the 13 million copies the 2015 Battlefront reboot shipped during its launch quarter. Blake Jorgensen, EA's CFO, said during an earnings call that Battlefront II underperformed. EA had modeled 10 million shipments for Battlefront II during its first quarter.
Additionally, Jorgensen told WSJ that Battlefront II will re-introduce microtransactions "in the next few months." EA removed microtransactions from Battlefront II just before the game's public release in the wake of significant blowback from the community.
EA caught a lot of flak over how Battlefront II allowed you to buy loot boxes--which contained items that affected gameplay--for real money. It remains to be seen what changes there could be to the loot box system when microtransactions do return.
Whatever the case, EA says it believes in microtransactions as a means to "enhance the experience in our games." However, the company cautioned that EA needs to do this the right way to avoid another Battlefront II-type situation.
"Going forward, we believe that live services that include optional digital monetization, when done right, provide a very important element of choice that can extend and enhance the experience in our games," EA said. "We're committed to continually working with our players to deliver the right experience in each of our games and live services."
Also during the call, EA talked about how Battlefront II, overall, was a "learning opportunity" for the company. For starters, it was collaboratively developed between three studios, while the aforementioned controversy over the digital economy was a learning experience as well, the company said.
While Battlefront II may have missed EA's initial sales targets, 9 million shipped in three months is still a massive achievement. Additionally, Jorgensen went on to say that EA is expecting Battlefront II to sell as many as three million more units during its current fiscal year, boosting its total to potentially as many as 12 million units. This would compare to 14 million units shipped for the 2015 Battlefront during its fiscal launch year.
EA added that its efforts to make Battlefront II a game that keeps players coming back is working. Over their respective first three months, Battlefront II players logged twice as much play time as the 2015 Battlefront game.
More details from EA's latest earnings report follow below.
For the quarter ended December 31, EA reported revenue of $1.16 billion, compared to $1.15 billion. EA posted a loss of $186 million during the quarter, which is much worse than the $1 million loss it took during the same period last year. Importantly, EA mentioned that it incurred a $176 million tax expense during the quarter related to the recently adopted Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
There were some financial bright spots during the quarter for EA, including the fact that digital revenue, which is higher margin, is taking a bigger share. For this latest quarter, digital revenue was $780 million, compared to $380 million for packaged goods. For the same period last year, digital revenue was $685 million, compared to $464 for packaged sales.
Here are some other takeaways from the EA report:
- The "FIFA community" on console alone rose to 42 million players.
- FIFA Mobile added 26 million players in the quarter alone.
- FIFA Ultimate Team's player base jumped by 12 percent year over year.
- Battlefield 1 now has 25 million unique players since it launched.
- The Sims 4's player base grew by 35 percent compared to last year.
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