After weeks of controversy kicked off by questionable microtransaction practices used in Star Wars Battlefront II, it looks like publisher EA is finally paying the (literal) price. Based on recent reports, the company's stock value has taken a hit worth billions of dollars.
Up to this point, the impact of the events that have unfolded over the past several weeks have been cosmetic for EA. They got enough bad publicity to warrant a call from Disney and some extremely loud outcry from fans but, outside of that, no damage was really done.
We're starting to see that damage take form now, as CNBC is reporting a $3 billion stock value plummet for the company here at the end of November. That's a powerful hit direct to the wallet, which is probably the only place EA truly feels the effects. They're a game publisher -- a company -- so the bottom line has a much stronger impact than angry comments on message boards.
Keep in mind that I'm not trying to devalue those comments, as they helped lead the charge to the pummeling EA's bank account is taking. I'm just saying that dollars, not words, is what will likely finally make EA give actual consideration to their practices moving forward.
If you're new to this whole scenario, there's a hell of a lot to unpack concerning the Battlefront II situation and the events which have followed. So, in brief, the whole problem started when fans noticed a lot of major flaws with the recent Star Wars game, namely systems that aggressively pushed players toward in-game purchases (on top of the $60 price tag for the game) rather than just playing the various modes to progress. To make matters worse, these purchases were random and some even impacted stats/abilities in competitive play.
Fans caused enough of an uproar to get EA to temporarily cancel the microtransactions in Battlefront II, but the damage was already done. IP owner Disney/Lucasfilm got involved and, despite last-minute changes, the game's sales have not been as high as anticipated.
All of that buzz got various groups looking into whether or not loot boxes in games should be considered gambling, as well as the use of such practices in games in general. "Should a game marketed to children even be allowed to feature these systems," for example.
Despite all of that, EA explained during a recent earnings call with investors that the absence of microtransactions would not have an impact on projected earnings. Apparently many were unconvinced, as shareholders started to withdraw and EA's stock plummeted 8.5 percent this month to date, accounting for the $3 billion drop.
At this point, it's hard to believe that the use of microtransactions won't have to change moving forward. After all, EA utilizes basically identical systems in other games like FIFA 18, but this is the first time player outcry has been enough to have an actual impact. The saying "vote with your dollars" comes to mind, and that's exactly what has happened with Battlefront II.
Staff Writer for CinemaBlend.
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