During Electronic Arts’ quarterly earnings conference call, Chief Executive Officer Andrew Wilson and Chief Financial Officer Blake Jorgensen talked about Star Wars Battlefront II, microtransactions, loot boxes, and the plans going forward.
Wilson explained that Electronic Arts remains committed to the Star Wars franchise, as they think that Star Wars Battlefront II at its very core is a great game. The team is currently working diligently on extra content and live services, and the publisher pledges to continue to support the community of the game “for a long time to come.”
That being said, Jorgensen mentioned that the timing for the release of a new Star Wars Battlefront game has not been decided yet, and the next big Star Wars game from EA will be Respawn Entertainment’s action game, which is “likely” to come in fiscal year 2020 (between April 1st, 2019 and March 31st, 2020).
Later in the call, Wilson was asked to explain how microtransactions will return to Star Wars Battlefront II. He argued that Electronic Arts’ plan is “absolutely” to continue to drive and focus and deliver on digital economies and live services. The teams are working on finding out how this will fit in the context of the Star Wars Battlefront universe, and EA expects to have more to share on this front “in the coming months.”
Jorgensen added that earnings for the return of microtransactions won’t be included in the company’s guidance until they’re confident that they have a proven model for the business.
The executives on the call were also asked if Disney has formulated an opinion on whether they’re comfortable with loot boxes. Wilson mentioned that “we shouldn’t believe everything that we read in the press.” Electronic Arts has a “tremendous relationship with Disney” and they “have been very proactive in that relationship in service of the players.”
Wilson has “no doubt” that, when EA will be confident about having the right model for their players and community, they’ll get Disney’s support on that model. Looking forward, the big learning is that there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to live services. Yet, at the very core, they must always build on the foundation of player choice: that might be the choice of whether a player engages in a particular mode or not, or whether they decide to grind for something or not. Yet, in all things, the critical point remains to provide “a fair playing field in which players feel that they have choice.” We should expect that EA will continue to “drive hard against that, and ensure that.”
Jorgensen concluded by mentioning that EA doesn’t believe that loot boxes or similar mechanics are a form of gambling, and there are plenty of governments around the world that agree with that. And it’s not just EA, but it’s the entire industry that thinks that way. They will work very closely with all industry partners and the ESA to make sure that people understand what loot boxes are and why they are not gambling. They also believe that there are a lot of consumers that agree with this notion, based on great experiences they had on games that associate live services with this kind of monetization.
Today, we also learned that Star Wars: Battlefront II sold below expectations so far, but live services performed above predictions.
Star Wars Battlefront II is currently available for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. If you want to read more about the game, you can check out our review.
If you want to learn more about Electronic Arts’ earnings for the past fiscal quarter, you can read our dedicated article.