The report compares EA’s games with free to play games and Call of Duty.
In general, it is becoming more and more clear that loot boxes and microtransactions really should not be present in full priced AAA games. Look, I don’t begrudge their presence in a mobile or free to play title- those games don’t cost anything upfront, so developers and publishers have to recoup costs and generate revenues somehow.
But when you are already charging $60 upfront, then charging more money with microtransactions, on top of DLC and season passes, subscription fees and special edition exclusive content, is egregious to say the least. And that’s why EA has found itself suffering from blowback to Star Wars Battlefront 2‘s abusive monetization policies.
Market research firm SuperData has released a new report pointing out that microtransaction revenue for free to play games has doubled since 2012- so clearly there is room for them in games. EA just does not understand, they say, how to go about them properly.
“Walking a fine line between increasing content offerings and engagement (and of course revenue) and alienating gamers, the ongoing experiment of microtransactions has had successes and failures. Although gamers are quick to complain that publishers are excessively monetizing additional content for games, players continue to support service-based monetization with their wallets,” the report says.
“But EA has a ways to go in fully understanding gamers’ appetites for microtransactions in different games. Activision’s Call of Duty franchise has consistently over-performed EA’s Battlefield in microtransactions by relying on character customization and weapons. However, EA have by no means been the first to get burned by what appears to consumers as money-grubbing techniques. Players of Assassin’s Creed Unity pushed back against what they saw as Ubisoft’s high-priced microtransaction shortcuts: they ultimately earned only 7% of the game’s additional content revenue.”
Now, while the comparison to Call of Duty is one thing, I do think that the comparison to free to play mobile and PC games is inherently flawed, for reasons specified above, and that therefore, this report as presented is a bit disingenuous. If EA wants to earn the kind of money that League of Legends and Clash of Clans earn, then by all means, it should go ahead- but also, like those games it needs to have the decency to offer the base games to its players for free.