EA's Star Wars Battlefront 2 launch was kind of a mess thanks to EA's handling of the loot box controversy. So while the narrative from the community and press side of things was decidedly negative, the financial sector appears to view EA's loot box woes as a big overreaction. Maybe even just a temporary setback on the path to maximizing profits from video games to the last cent.
Speaking to CNBC KeyBanc Capital Markets analyst, Evan Wingren, said that contrary to the media fallout, the conclusion they see is that "Gamers aren't overcharged, they're undercharged[.]"
According to Wingren, who spoke mostly in terms of finances, "The handling of the [Star Wars Battlefront 2] launch by EA has been poor; despite this, [KeyBanc Capital Markets] view the suspension of MTX [micro-transactions] in the near term as a transitory Risk[.]"
EA themselves downplayed the seriousness of its response to the controversy, saying the (temporary) removal of microtransactions "is not expected to have a material impact on EA's fiscal year 2018." Wingren does say that there is a "slightly higher probability" that Battlefront 2 won't hit the 13 million sales unit forecast as a result of the controversy.
However, Wingren doesn't blame micro-transactions. Rather he says that "This saga has been a perfect storm for overreaction as it involves EA, Star Wars, reddit, and certain purist gaming journalists/outlets who dislike MTX[.]"
Instead, Wingren is still batting pretty hard for how, based on cents per hours played (40 cents per hour according to Wingren), Battlefront 2 is a better investment for entertainment. According to Wingren playing a game is cheaper than watching an hour of television (60 to 65 cents per hour), or watching a film either through rental (80 cents per hour) or in a theater ($3 per hour).
"If you take a step back and look at the data, an hour of video game content is still one of the cheapest forms of entertainment," wrote Wingren. In fact, he argues that prices for video games should be raised arguing that based on the cost-per-hour metric, "you're far better off skipping the movie [Star Wars The Last Jedi?] and playing [Star Wars Battlefront 2] to get the most bang for your buck[.]"
Firstly, it's not exactly accurate to breakdown entertainment value via cost-per-hour, though I suppose that's why Wingren is a financial analyst. Along with the fact that the math on whether or not video games should cost more thanks to increased development budget is shaky presently, Wingren's judgement appears to be trying to put a good face on EA's Battlefront 2 situation, which has resulted in EA's stock prices dipping.
Tied to the fact that EA might not reach their sales forecast and it seems like despite Wingren's claims that games should be priced higher, or that microtransactions are still a steal (compared to the cents spent for watching a film), the narrative around Battlefront 2 continues to be bleak.
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