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Analyst: "Undercharged" gamers overreacted to Star Wars Battlefront 2 microtransactions

By midian182 · 42 replies
Nov 21, 2017
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  1. The loot crate controversy that gathered momentum from games like Shadow of War and Forza 7 recently came to a head with Star Wars Battlefront 2. The backlash led EA to remove microtransactions from the game temporarily, but one financial analyst says the whole situation is an “overreaction” from players who are “undercharged” for their games.

    EA was quick to assure investors that the pause on SWB 2’s microtransactions wouldn’t have a huge effect on the company’s fiscal year earnings, but this hasn’t stopped a fall in share price. However, according to analyst Evan Wingren of KeyBanc Capital Markets, now is a good time to invest as he believes the loot box issue is just an overreaction by the press and gamers, who should really be paying more for the privilege of playing these titles.

    "We view the negative reaction to Star Wars Battlefront 2 (and industry trading sympathy) as an opportunity to add to Electronic Arts, Take-Two, and Activision Blizzard positions. The handling of the SWBF2 launch by EA has been poor; despite this, we view the suspension of MTX [micro-transactions] in the near term as a transitory risk," Wingren wrote in a note to clients.

    "Gamers aren't overcharged, they're undercharged (and we're gamers) ... 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."

    Wingren argues that compared to something like movies, video games offer great value. In fact, we’re getting such a good deal that those poor publishers should really be charging us more.

    "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. Quantitative analysis shows that video game publishers are actually charging gamers at a relatively inexpensive rate, and should probably raise prices.

    "Despite its inconvenience to the popular press narrative, if you like Star Wars and play video games at an average rate, you’re far better off skipping the movie and playing the game to get the most bang for your buck."

    Wingren said if a gamer spent $60 to buy the game, paid an additional $20 per month for loot boxes and played around 2.5 hours a day for one year, it works out at roughly 40 cents per hour of gaming time. This compares to an estimated 60 cents to 65 cents per hour for pay television, 80 cents per hour for a movie rental and more than $3 per hour for a movie watched in a theater.

    There are a few flaws in his logic, of course. The main one being that few people pour almost 1000 hours into a game, especially if it's single-player only (with some exceptions). And while SWB 2 is multiplayer focused, it isn’t exactly game of the year material. There’s also the fact that as PC owners, we're constantly spending money to upgrade our hardware so we can play these titles. And let’s not forget that Wingren is comparing what are essentially several very different forms of entertainment. Ultimately, most people don’t favor games, movies, or TV shows based on their cent-per-hour value.

    Wingren did say at least one thing that makes sense: he believes there’s a “slightly higher probability” that all the controversy over Star Wars Battlefront 2 means it won’t hit its sales forecast of 13 million units.

    Permalink to story.

  2. Theinsanegamer

    Theinsanegamer TS Evangelist Posts: 1,570   +1,787

    Wingren is, to put it bluntly, a *****. Probably has a MBA in management or ther worthless degree that makes him think his bean counter skills are worthy of our time.

    These games make hundreds of millions, sometimes billions, in revenue, and hundreds of millions in profit. They also have micro transactions, DLC, pre orders, and season passes generating tons of extra revenue for basically no effort. Digital delivery has both severely cut down on game returns and cut down on production costs, while special and deluxe editions have made $80-100 the norm for game prices on any major release.

    Add in the quality of modern games, with a huge focus on graphics over gameplay and as a result poor quality and quantity of content, tons of bugs, and unimaginative sequel churning, these devs have done nothing to warrant a higher price tag. Games are supposed to be about having fun, not fleecing consumer's wallets. The current generation of games is nothing more then a cash grab, and analysts like this one are simply trying to excuse their money grubbing behavior.

    EDIT: really, M0r0N is censored? Cmon techspot, that isnt even a cuss word!
    bolski, bmw95, Peter Farkas and 10 others like this.
  3. Squid Surprise

    Squid Surprise TS Evangelist Posts: 2,563   +1,548

    So $60 for the game... $240 per year on loot boxes.... He thinks that's a reasonable price eh? Where is he getting 2.5 hours a DAY from? Who plays one game that often for more than a few weeks?

    And that's before factoring in the cost of the PC, electricity, etc...

    Wondering who's funding this guy - I suspect that if we did some digging, we'd find that either EA or some other gaming industry company has its claws in him...

    Edit: After looking at his "company's" financial report https://www.key.com/kco/images/KBCM_Annual_Audit_Report_2016.pdf there is definitely something fishy going on here.... this company does only about 1 million dollars worth of business TOTAL.... Why is one of their analysts being chosen to write for a multi-multi-million dollar company's video game release?

    Got to start work, but I suspect this bears more research...
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2017
    Reehahs, Stark and Theinsanegamer like this.
  4. Burty117

    Burty117 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 3,506   +1,302

    Part of the reason I've spent less time on Techspot lately, They post stories about keeping the internet open and freespeech and even re-posts twitter and reddit comments with swear words in but on their own website, even slightly derogatory words seem to get blocked.

    I wouldn't mind this if Techspot gave me an option to "allow bad language" or something to that effect but they don't, just everything is blanket censored. Hell even a "down vote" system would be better if someone was just being unnecessarily rude it can auto-hide the comment.
    Godel likes this.
  5. alabama man

    alabama man TS Guru Posts: 563   +355

    I only go to movies when I get free tickets. Claiming it costs "$3 per hour for a movie watched in a theater" is ridiculous. Here basic ticket costs 17,40 € (20,39$), the movie is rarely more than 2 hours, usually less. You can order blurays 2-5€ a piece, and they wonder why people wont go to theaters. For price of one ticket I can get 3 movies (that I can then sell or watch again as many times as I want), movies rarely go old in the year you wait for price drop, unlike games that close servers or don't have players.

    It's a free market, you can ask more for your games if you want, just don't use predatory gambling to do so. I don't have to gamble while watching movies or TV to get more or better content so that should be taken in to consideration while making up these numbers. I still think biggest gaming companies have some sort of oligopoly as there isn't really any price competition, every "aaa" game no matter what the making costs are costs the same in the store.
    Reehahs, senketsu and Stark like this.
  6. RogSim

    RogSim TS Rookie

    A glorified bean counter with diarrhea of the mouth. Next.

    Actually I do wish EA would increase the prices. I want to see how much deeper a grave they want to dig for themselves.
  7. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 5,503   +3,893

    Just follow the money .... who's paying this so called "analyst" salary for this study? EA is a fool if they think they can get away with it, and even a bigger fool to think they are going to change anyone's mind with their so called "expert commentary" ..... people will simply vote with their pocket books and EA will go the way of so many other former game makers. ......
    stewi0001 and Stark like this.
  8. BSim500

    BSim500 TS Evangelist Posts: 613   +1,238

    There's a reason why "analyst" has the word "anal" in it...

    ^ Precisely. It's pretty obvious "external damage control".
    Peter Farkas likes this.
  9. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,780   +1,166

    Hehe there is an analyst who is going to get infamous, it was nice knowing you for a whole minute and reading your nonsense.
  10. stewi0001

    stewi0001 TS Evangelist Posts: 2,219   +1,657

    I am a Data Analyst and I have to be anal about my data, but I am not the analyst that inspired this article. ;)
  11. Hydra9268

    Hydra9268 TS Rookie

    It is dishonest to sell a non-subscription single player game with a multiplayer component at a price tag of $60 (or higher with deluxe content) and then hide key content behind paywalls. If EA wants to charge more for their products, then they should grow a pair and set the price to whatever they want. Of course, they will not because they know people would never buy their game if priced at $120 or more. What EA is engaging in is a form of legal bait-and-switch practice. It is not illegal, but it is slimy and unethical.
    MonsterZero likes this.
  12. Hydra9268

    Hydra9268 TS Rookie

    Loot crates is the new MMO subscription. But it's worst because they represent the aspect of MMOs we gamers hate most: RNG crap. If he were a gamer he would factor in his hatred of RNG content into his analysis.
    Darth Shiv and Theinsanegamer like this.
  13. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,780   +1,166

    I don't argue with Loot boxes, I'm actually a fan of them, as long as they don't have any impact in the game. Take for example Blizzard's lootboxes, they did it the right way, you only get cosmetic items that don't affect gameplay at all whatsoever, this is the practice that companies need to follow.
  14. Hydra9268

    Hydra9268 TS Rookie

    Same thing with GW2's Black Lion Chests. Loot crates for vanity stuff. There are no stat advantages with anything gained from black lion chests.
    Kibaruk and senketsu like this.
  15. OutlawCecil

    OutlawCecil TS Evangelist Posts: 696   +500

    Lol just like global warming. Millions agree it's a thing but the people who stand to make money from it disagree. surprised? The people actually playing the game hate it, how can you argue any point past that?!
  16. Bubbajim

    Bubbajim TechSpot Staff Posts: 690   +668

    And Blizzard ones - Overwatch specifically - can be earned in-game at a decent rate. 4-5 regular games, or similar amount of Arcade games, and you've got a box. Fast enough to be rewarding, not so fast they're totally meaningless.
  17. m4a4

    m4a4 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,473   +1,046

    If Overwatch was a f2p game, I would start to agree. But since it is a paid title with cosmetics locked behind an RNG wall, I have to disagree. Because $$$ is involved, the grind to get skins is harder (even if slightly) to incentivize spending money. And then you have to gamble trying to get the skin you want for a game you've already paid for once.

    Remember in 60$ games when you had to earn skins and perks and other stuff without buying them? I do.
    Kibaruk and Theinsanegamer like this.
  18. Bubbajim

    Bubbajim TechSpot Staff Posts: 690   +668

    Valid points, but for me, the fact that they're continually developing it with new maps, new heroes, new events and game modes, justifies using an optional revenue method in order to fund that development. Everyone who gets the game gets the continued updates, and if you want to chip-in with buying boxes which don't impact on gameplay at all, then you can. If you don't want to, you can get all the other content for free. That, to me, seems fair.
    Darth Shiv and Theinsanegamer like this.
  19. m4a4

    m4a4 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,473   +1,046

    And I get that (and applaud Blizzard for keeping it cosmetic only), but don't support the open ended lootbox/gambling model on top of a 60$ game. I would rather have one-time purchases when new content comes out (but not necessarily lock the new content behind a paywall for a MP game).

    This is why EA tried what they are doing; they saw that another AAA game had successful gambling along with their stuff, so they said "we'll make all content and DLC free too, and add lootboxes". EA took it to the next "logical" step: progression behind lootboxes.
    Also Shadow of War had Single Player lootboxes and did well. That certainly didn't help us gamers...
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2017
  20. Cubi Dorf

    Cubi Dorf TS Booster Posts: 149   +51

    The price of game is overprice. Compare to other form of entertainment such as fishing, swimming in public sea, or hiking in public parks, playing cards, listen to radio. It easy to “prove “ a point through bad examples and silly comparisons. But If you are only looking at money per time, all the things he said are overprice.
    Fobus, Theinsanegamer and Footlong like this.
  21. R00sT3R

    R00sT3R TS Guru Posts: 166   +354

    Wall St sharks like him would probably find a way to justify being charged for breathing if their was money in it.
  22. Avenger001

    Avenger001 TS Booster Posts: 57   +44

    Please do not acknowledge this person!
  23. Footlong

    Footlong TS Addict Posts: 149   +79

    Continuing this logic books are being given away pratically for free.
  24. axiomatic13

    axiomatic13 TS Maniac Posts: 221   +158

    Games and gaming, in general, was better before we invited the "suits" to the companies. Just sayin'.
  25. dj2017

    dj2017 TS Maniac Posts: 160   +167

    "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."

    If you take a step back and see how many mistakes analysts do in their analysis and how often they are proven wrong, they represent probably one of the most overpaid and overhyped professions.

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