In the wake of its disastrous launch of Star Wars Battlefront II, game publishing giant Electronic Arts (EA) has revealed that it’s stock value has taken a hit – to the tune of $3.1 billion dollars. According to a report on CNBC, EA’s stock value has gone down 8.5 percent (as of November 28), resulting in a loss of $3.1 billion in shareholder value for the company’s investors. While no direct evidence has been made to suggest that this is a result of the launch of what was one of the most hotly anticipated titles of the year, it’s hard not to see a correlation to Battlefront II’s reception.
EA has made waves in recent weeks, releasing Star Wars Battlefront II – a game with a franchise attached to it that should print literal money for the company – saddling the game with microtransactions that directly influence and affect player progression. In many games featuring loot boxes and microtransactions, these rewards are purely cosmetic – which is still a problem on its own – however, Star Wars Battlefront II had the microtransactions tied directly to how you can progress in the game. The game players who are willing to spend more and more money paying for these random lootboxes get a decided advantage over those who simply payed the $60 cost of the title.
Naturally, having player progression in a competitive multiplayer game tied directly to how much money you can spend outside of the $60 initial purchase price was going to garner a reaction. Gamers and media alike flooded Reddit, YouTube and more to denounce Electronic Arts for this decision. Investors felt as though gamers were overreacting – as reported here by the Inquisitr – however, Electronic Arts eventually caved and turned off the ability to purchase microtransactions with real-world currency. In doing so, EA assured investors that this would not have an effect on the game’s bottom line.
The uproar and backlash to Star Wars Battlefront II can be seen as directly impacting the share prices – EA gave a December sales forcast in October, falling well short of Wall Street estimates, resulting in a four percent shares drop the very next day. It’s not hard to see how this could be impacting the overall shares loss – Star Wars Battlefront II still does not rank in the top 100 best sellers in Video Games on Amazon, and Eurogamer is reporting a 60 percent fewer physical sales compared to Battlefront I in 2015.
The controversy might also have far-reaching effects on the gaming industry as a whole, as Star Wars Battlefront II has caught the eye of politicians around the globe. Belgium and other countries and states are starting to look at loot boxes as possible gambling, with Hawaiian state legislator Chris Lee calling it a “Star Wars themed casino aimed at children.” As more and more legislators and governments look at loot-boxes, EA has to look into how it can recover from this – and restore faith from investors after such a drastic beating on Wall Street.