Microtransactions are coming back to save Star Wars: Battlefront II. EA has sold 9 million copies of the Star Wars shooter worldwide, according to an interview with Electronic Arts chief financial officer Blake Jorgensen in The Wall Street Journal. That is short of expectations (10 million) and of the previous entry in the series through its first quarter (13 million).
EA could have revealed the sales numbers in its quarterly earnings report today, but it didn’t. Instead, it took this opportunity to reach out to Wall Street. Jorgensen wants the market to know that it has plans to bring back the microtransactions “in the next few months” after removing them from Star Wars: Battlefront II following a backlash from fans and Disney itself.
— Sarah E. Needleman (@saraheneedleman) January 30, 2018
The day before Battlefront II’s November 17 release, EA pulled the plug on its in-game purchase options. Fans loudly criticized the publisher on social media and forums such as Reddit for promoting gambling-like business models that provided people who spend money with an advantage. After weeks of trying to managing those concerns, consumer outrage grew so fevered that it attracted the attention of mainstream media outlets and government regulators in Hawaii and Belgium.
At the time, EA said that microtransactions would return after it reworked them. And now, after selling nearly 4 million fewer copies of Battlefront II than its predecessor through the same period of time, that business model is returning.
While 9 million is an impressive number for most games, investors could easily take this as a bad sign. If EA’s Star Wars games are losing steam, then it will struggle to maintain the growth that has powered the steady increase in its stock price since 2012.
In addition to Jorgensen’s Wall Street Journal interview, EA has also reassured investors with a massive revenues and earnings guidance for its next quarter through the end of its fiscal year. The company expects to generate $5.1 billion in total in fiscal 2018, which ends March 31. That’s up from $4.6 billion year-over-year.
And that was exactly what Wall Street wanted to hear, apparently. EA’s stock price is up 6.15 percent in after-hours trading to $126 after finishing the day at $118.70.