Notes of SWBFII interest from Electronic Arts Earnings Call for Q3 2018

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As expected, Electronic Arts (EA) conducted their quarterly earnings call today covering the 3rd Quarter of 2018. This call was of particular interest since we expected to hear more information about Star Wars Battlefront II (SWBFII) sales as well as the company’s overall performance. The call offered some interesting tidbits of information for SWBFII, the unannounced Star Wars-themed game, as well as more details about upcoming plans for EA’s product portfolio.

 

The good news

  • SWBF II campaign was played by more than 70% of the people who bought the game.
  • Gamers played SWBFII twice as much as compared to the original SWBF during the first quarter of its launch.
  • Respawn’s Star Wars game is not expected to land until 2020.
  • A sequel to SWBFII has not been decided, however, it appears that EA is considering it. The earliest we will see such a game is not until 2021, right after Respawn launches their untitled Star Wars game.
  • EA was clear to note that SWBFII is going to be supported for a long time.
  • EA CEO Andrew Wilson mentioned that the SWBFII controversy didn’t worsen their relationship with Disney. They continue to work very closely with Disney and have no doubt that SWBFII’s revamped model will be fully supported by them.

 

The bad news

  • EA missed its estimates on SWBFII sales. They originally predicted 10-12 million sales and the game sold 9 million instead. The company pointed out the public backlash over loot boxes as the root cause of their less-than-expected sales for the game.
  • EA mentioned that they didn’t get the balance right on SWBFII and this is something that they’re currently working on. They would like to build a model that’s based on player choice and having a level playing field. EA is “doubling-down” on getting the balance right for the game.

 

 

The “remains to be seen” news

  • Microtransactions are set to return over the next couple of months. We’re assuming that they’re going to follow closely behind the revamp of the progression system. EA reiterated that it’s important to have the right balance when implementing these in the game. If we were to venture a guess, then we would think that the cosmetic customization system might be a feature that ties to microtransactions. To be clear, this is just speculation on our part.
  • EA is very conservative in their budget for the game until they find the right model for the game. They want to ensure that when microtransactions are implemented, they’re well-received and give players the choice they seek.

 

Taking a step back

Overall, for the most part, we didn’t hear something we didn’t expect in terms of SWBFII. Most people expected some sales impact due to the loot box controversy. Considering the negative publicity the game received during launch we think that the impact wasn’t as big as people seemed to think.

In terms of microtransactions, we think that it’s the right thing to do in order to ensure the sustainability of the game in the long term. EA will think twice before implementing a “pay-to-win” system due to the recent history of SWBFII. We do think they’re going to be more limited in nature and be less impactful on game balance. As mentioned above, we think that paying for customizations might be the right thing to do. This is clearly something that EA and DICE won’t get a second chance at.

If reintroduction of microtransactions goes well, then we should expect more content coming for a long time. At a minimum, support for the game will continue until 2020 when a new Star Wars game by Respawn entertainment launches. The next 2-3 months should be crucial for the game as DICE introduces season 2, a new progression system as well as microtransactions.

 


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