You can’t throw a stick this week without hitting some EA/Battlefront II outrage. It may well be the most exciting dialogue we have ever encountered regarding precisely how damaging locked content, player progression and micro-transactions may actually be within the realm of game development. Even Belgium’s gambling regulators are investigating Battlefront 2 loot boxes, which is sure to at least raise some previously un-raised eyebrows.
But, where did this all begin? I wrote a particularly brief article earlier this week that shared some statistics regarding how we, as players are not blameless for the ‘aggressive monetisation’ climate that currently surrounds us – but what of the company that birthed this current tide of anger?
Well there are some exceptionally interesting numbers on EA’s side also – and they come from FIFA.
In FIFA ’09, you were introduced to a new feature titled ‘Ultimate Team Mode’. UTM allowed a player to gain an ingame currency, and buy ‘packs’ of player cards – representing a massive roster of players from professional leagues across the entire world. When you have enough players to field a team, you can then step onto the pitch against other players who had done similarly. Like collecting physical sports cards back in the day, only with the added benefit of actually playing with them!
And if you wanted to speed up your card collecting process, you actually had the convenient chance to purchase additional currency, to then …buy more card packs. Here’s where the figures start to kick in.
- By 2010, UTM and its associated ‘choose to buy’ practices had earned 30 million USD. (This is separated from sales of the game, this is UTM alone) [Source – Cached]
- The release of FIFA ’13 saw this figure swell to 200 million USD. [Source]
- This year, EA is now looking at an income of 800 million USD. [Source – Cached]
Now, these figures sure are interesting – but how do they apply to Battlefront II? Well, in the article above where I mentioned the lofty heights of Eight Hundred Million Dollars, there is a quote from CFO Blake Jorgensen (CFO = Chief Financial Officer) where he discusses the success of this business model, but more specifically:
“Like Battlefield or Battlefront, our Star Wars game, which are very similar in the depth of play – we can possibly add a similar mechanic to that. We spend a lot of time thinking about it,”
The rest of the quote does mention ‘over the next couple of years’, but you can’t help but direct a glaring eye to the current Battlefront II malarkey. Was this a portent of things to come? An unintended warning? It’s hard to ignore the figures – and with results like what Jorgensen has seen so far, it’s no wonder the system is so popular for them.