Analyst blames EA’s Star Wars Battlefront 2 fiasco on the press, Reddit, and video game purists

KeyBanc Capital Markets financial analyst Evan Wingren, who surely makes more money than you do, wants you to know that he’s a gamer too! And he assures you that you’re paying too little for games! In fact, KeyBanc Capital Markets financial analyst Evan Wingren says the real problem with the whole Star Wars Battlefront 2 monetization fiasco – the one that apparently worried Disney enough into making EA turn off microtransactions – is actually the big scary powerful gaming press, some dudes on Reddit, and their “popular press narrative.”

“This saga has been a perfect storm for overreaction as it involves EA, Star Wars, Reddit, and certain purist gaming journalists/outlets who dislike microtransactions,” KeyBanc Capital Markets financial analyst Evan Wingren insists. “Quantitative analysis shows that video game publishers are actually charging gamers at a relatively inexpensive rate, and should probably raise prices.” Indeed, KeyBanc Capital Markets financial analyst Evan Wingren estimates that you’re paying only 40 cents an hour for the average video game, compared to 60 cents for TV and 80 cents for a movie rental! Shit, guys, I’m going to go write EA a check right now.

In other business news, which does not involve the 1% informing us that we unwashed masses should be grateful for the pixels EA is generously donating to us:

GI.biz has polled some random AAA devs on lootboxes too, and they’re all over the map. A Paradox dev suggests lootcrates aren’t “radically worse” than anything that came before. A Vlambeer dev says we’re all right to complain but literally tone-polices complainers and accuses gamers – “populist YouTubers,” specifically – of a “general lack of research and investigation.” A Gearbox dev calls lockboxes predatory and asks everyone to stop using the term lootbox since loot is a good thing (he’s right). A different Paradox dev says young players and Asians are fine being exploited; it’s the olds and Westerners who are complaining (the implication being they can ignore what “dinosaurs” think as Millennials and foreigners will let it slide, I guess?). In other words, EA isn’t the only studio where mouths open and stuff that should not be said in front of customers falls out.

Need for Speed Payback is apparently trying to get out in front of the angry mob with pitchforks and torches by fixing its degenerate business model before the mob remembers it exists, which wasn’t likely anyway, but don’t sully this! The pity for NFSP, which does exist, is that it didn’t listen to KeyBanc Capital Markets financial analyst Evan Wingren’s advice to let this blow over and then charge even more. “Our aim with these changes is to make the progression, especially around the ownership of cars a much more enjoyable experience,” explained developer Ghost Games, which somehow managed to avoid EA’s obvious lie that the business model was designed to engender in players “a sense of pride and accomplishment.” EA should ask them how that’s done.

Let’s end this on a light note. Kotaku has a list of alternatives to lootboxes. I am fond of Groot Boxes myself. But yes. The point is that boxes aren’t the problem. Loot isn’t even the problem. It’s everything else. It’s exploitation. It’s greed. And it’s not having even the grace to blush over either.

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166 Comments on "Analyst blames EA’s Star Wars Battlefront 2 fiasco on the press, Reddit, and video game purists"

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Ken from Chicago

Yes, clearly this is all Bree’s fault and her empire of game news reporter friends picking on the small, plucky band of EA rebels and their alliance of game devs. Shame on you, Bree.

#BigBully ;-)

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haishao

Evan Wingren is an investor analyst for EA. He shouldn’t be taken seriously at all. https://imgur.com/gallery/VpdEe

Woetoo
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Woetoo

Capital Markets financial analyst Evan Wingren says the real problem with the whole Star Wars Battlefront 2 monetization fiasco – the one that apparently worried Disney enough into making EA turn off microtransactions – is actually the big scary powerful gaming press, some dudes on Reddit, and their “popular press narrative.”

So basically everyone else who has an opinion, except EA. Gotcha.

I don’t know about you, but I’m so relieved he’s weighed in on the matter. Because clearly gamers are absolutely shouting out for more input from financial analysts about what make videos games good or bad.

Evan Wingren insists. “Quantitative analysis shows that video game publishers are actually charging gamers at a relatively inexpensive rate, and should probably raise prices.”

So if cinemas show bad movies, but charge less for the tickets – that makes them better?
I’d love to see his quantitative analysis of Witcher 3.

A different Paradox dev says young players and Asians are fine being exploited

And there for me is the quote of the article.

Because if you’re willing to go on record saying any sort of exploitation is fine… you really have been spending way too much time in the company of some really despicable human beings. Jeez guy, grow a conscience.

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mike foster

He’s not wrong about the dollars-to-time value of games (this is one reason so many people focus part of their entertainment budget on say, a WoW subscription that gives hundreds of hours of fun over a movie ticket that gives two). Entertainment-wise, games are definitely under cost.

The problem is that this only makes sense if the idea is all entertainment should be 1:1 in terms of value/cost, which it shouldn’t. Games are designed to be large, multi-hour experiences and no one on earth is going to pay what they pay for a movie (say, $3 an hour, or here in LA closer to $10) to play League for 2,000 hours or Skyrim for 400. Hell, even PC Bangs are priced lower than this, and they literally charge for games by the hour.

Also, gamers aren’t opposed to spending more money if the price isn’t bullshit. People will monetize in your game if you make cool stuff and aren’t a greedy asshole. The issue with Battlefront, since that’s what he’s responding to, is that the game was purposefully designed to FORCE people to spend money as opposed to offering monetization as an option.

Publishers should continue to look for ways to make more money — that’s not criminal and it’s how the industry stays alive, especially in the face of rising costs of development (every tech generation increases the difficulty and cost of developing AAA games considerably). But they should try to bring a careful balance, focusing first on how players will feel when they play and adding monetization as a way to make things more fun, not to make things less un-fun. And it should never impact the core game loop.

The real problem with the current industry is the way many publishers are balanced precariously on the edge of an annual-sequel business strategy. This forces them to make rapid re-dos of stuff that already exists, and since you can’t build something truly innovative and fun that way, you have to look for ways to gate it to force purchases (see: DLC that basically “completes” the game).

I’m not sure what the solution is here, except to hope that more benevolent publishers (I do believe there are some companies that do monetization really well) will survive this mess as the ultra-greedy ones (EA, for example) price themselves out by being dicks.

Of course, this only matters if the protesting masses practice what they preach and don’t actually buy the game and monetize. Which, usually…

Edit: As an aside, it’s been interesting to watch the industry wake up to this. When Riot first tried to publish League, the founders brought the game to a bunch of publishers looking for help and they laughed them out of the room (“a FREE game? but people buy cosmetics? and you don’t plan to make sequels, but to continually update it? lol nice joke”). That’s why Riot is its own publisher. And to be clear since I brought Riot into this, I don’t think we’re perfect either. But I think our approach is at least right, which is “try not to fuck anyone and also not to accidentally change something that will kill the company five years from now.” I don’t envy the ecomm guys, that’s for sure.

Andrew Ross
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Andrew Ross

That’s the problem with emphasizing quantitative findings. Most people use qualitative approaches to life ;P

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Dro Gul

And they would have gotten away with it if it hadn’t been for you meddling kids!!!

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Zen Dadaist

How dare these plebes not spend as much money as we want them to on our things!

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Jeffery Witman

Incomes are stagnating for decades. Cost of living is rising rapidly across the nation. Debts, especially from student loans, are at an untenable level. Television, especially cable television, is dying, as are theaters and movie rentals in favor of streaming and VoD.

But this guy thinks the problem is charging too little!

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solrize
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solrize

I think people like this guy are what’s wrong with the world. How much do you want to bet that he’s against net neutrality? They just want to make more money and it’s never enough. There will always be more money to be made and they can’t see anything else. Who cares how many people you have to screw over to make an extra buck?

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PhoenixDfire

Oh For Flips Sake. What is wrong with wanting a game where people can’t bribe their way to the top?

If these games are costing more to develop, then you have to raise the prices. You had to put microtransactions and loot boxes in mobile games because mobile games are too easy to pirate. But they spoilt Deus Ex trying to put in Pay to Win in a single player PC game and then cancelled the series because it didn’t sell as well as they hoped.

Ok the game wasn’t as good as Human Revolution but it was still an enjoyable play but the pay to win caused negative feedback which effected the sales. You really couldn’t play through with the really advanced abilities without buying them from the store.

People will grumble about the higher prices but I’d rather have that than they locking content behind paywalls.

gestrobe
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gestrobe

He’s not necessarily wrong but the problem is that capitalism encourages an endless pursuit of ever-increasing profits. It’d be one thing if games got more expensive to keep up with increasing development costs but you know it won’t end there. With DLC and lootboxes already popular, we’d just get more expensive products that continue to fleece consumers for even more money. Even if the current DLC model and lootboxes disappeared, they’d just shovel the additional profit to the shareholders rather than use it in development, or throw it at marketing because you can get more sales that way (but not necessarily a product consumers will enjoy more).

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Shannon Giblett

He has a good point we as gamers more often than not get good value for money.
I also agree that boxes are not a bad thing as long as the included content is not needed to progress the game.
The reason why is because I have been a gamer for 30 years and I still have games from 15 years ago that have $95 price tags (Aussie) and that is what games still go for, but wages for programmers has risen, technology needs are higher, electricity costs, rent and I could go on.
So I think companies deserve to find creative ways to monetize their content.

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Dušan Frolkovič

So, publishers, then charge more!
Dont hide it behind DLC, microtransactions and loot boxes.
Charge me 90 euros for a good (good i said, not mediocre) game and i will pay it.

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draugris

HaHa, these financial analysts, so delusional, that really made my day. They are much like politicians, they completely lost connection with regular people.

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Sally Bowls

I don’t think many of the commenters are clear on Securities Analysts (much more polite than my first draft.) There are hundreds of financial institutions employing thousands of people to analyze and predict/guess at the covered company’s performance. The EA Earnings call had questions from people from Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, Barclays, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, UBS, Piper Jaffray. They are employees of those securities firms, not EA.

Here are the results of one firm’s recent analysis of NCSoft
https://www.miraeassetdaewoo.com/bbs/maildownload/2017110922402994_183

Frequently, one looks at the aggregate of the analysts like Mr. Wingren. If you go to the Analysts tab of the Yahoo finance page for EA, you will see some aggregates of 26 analysts who cover EA. E.g., 25 analysts estimates for EA’s revenue this quarter are 1.99 to 2.1B

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Steinar Bergstøl

KeyBanc Capital Markets financial analyst Evan Wingren can kindly fuck right off. And so can KeyBanc Capital Markets financial analyst Evan Wingren’s undoubtedly correctly-priced-according-to-the-market horse which he rode in on.

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Byórðæįr

you can only get as much money as people can afford and if you gouge them today they are likely to drop your game the second there is something that is even remotely as fun. People have gaming budgets. Anything over that cost hurts the game’s appeal. So you have two sides to the scales to balance, the amount it costs to create the game plus any profit to incentavise keeping developers there and attracting more developers on one side, and how much you think the normal player can spend. Most companies take the avg cost cut it down to ten percent and leave a few cosmetic things in for the whales. The money does not hurt if and only if people don’t think the best stuff is behind a pay wall. pay walls that are too high are hurdles that end games.

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thalendor

I guess he can now blame Belgium as well.

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Sally Bowls

1) This is not just gaming. Movie industry is blaming a web site as well.

A Foodie got some press recently blaming Yelp. It is the new trend.

I am conflicted. I think a lot of cases, gaming and non, it is incompetent companies blaming people pointing out their mistakes. OTOH, I quit paying attention to metacritic et al because the ratings are unreliable for me as they reflect the latest flash mob to arrive to fight/support SJW, Trump, D1 DLC, etc. Even things I care about like price increases, offline mode, DRM, microtransactions are treated as religious issues by True Believers to the extent I don’t get much from the review summary. The game’s score is driven more by the promotion skill/efforts of the aggrieved than the game itself.

2) This was clearly a mistake on EA’s part nor do I want to defend Wingren. However, this is not just EA. This contretemps is not proof that recurring revenue is fatally flawed as much as saying EA screwed up (which most here will find quite credible.)

TTI is committing to microtransactions.

“It may not always be an online model, it probably won’t always be a virtual currency model, but there will be some ability to engage in an ongoing basis with our titles after release across the board. That’s a sea change in our business.
– Take-Two chief Strauss Zelnick, speaking to investors on a conference call .

“Player recurring investment” revenue was a big chunk of Ubisoft’s recent revenue.

Activision Blizzard delivered a Q3 record of over $1 billion of in-game revenues

and so on

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mysecretid

Except that, in my experience, Yelp! restuarant reviews have been deeply corrupt at points.

Relative of mine was approached yearly, and told (off the record, of course) “Pay us, and your restaurant will get a good review. Don’t pay us, and it won’t”.

The restaurant prospered for years, despite the annual attempted shakedown (which many of his fellow restauranteurs also reported they experienced).

The public loved the place, but Yelp!, consistently unbribed, never did.

Of course, you don’t have to believe me. That’s your perogative. My only point here, is that Yelp! may not be the best example of what you’re referencing in this example.

Cheers,

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Sally Bowls

I can believe that. Although broadly that fits my thesis: the mobs have their agenda, the company has their agenda (some even hire fake reviews), some companies like Yelp have their agenda … It increasingly feels like the info I want, a fair evaluation of the game from different perspectives, is getting left far behind.

If I hired JD Powers or A J Neilsen to survey 1000 randomly selected customers, I bet I would get a different result than relying on the aftermath of people coming there with their agenda.

K38FishTacos
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K38FishTacos

spin doctor

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Sorenthaz

ernost
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ernost

Isn’t the whole reason the ESRB exists at all is to prevent this. I wonder what their reaction to this will be.

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rafael12104

Oh man…. if this gains any momentum in the political arena… and what the faith based alliance might do to fuel that…. Oh man. It could get ugly very quickly.

So, EA, get your shit straight right now. Please, I don’t want to see this clash. The implications of where this might go scares me.

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Armsbend

Why? They have been on a collision course with the law for almost a decade. It needs to happen and hard. Rip it all down – every bit of it.

I’ve been writing my representatives for years with nothing.

Joe Camel…ugh why didn’t I think of that one? Perfect.

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rafael12104

Yeah, but you know how this could go. They swing too far the other way and suddenly we are inundated with all sorts of new restrictions far beyond Lootboxes. When it becomes a religious crusade, it becomes something else entirely.

I could be just paranoid… it has to come down as you said, in any event.

veldara
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veldara

It’s true that the cost of game development has risen over the years, but in the case of the Triple-A market, it’s primarily due to the increase in the level of spectacle. Every subsequent installment of a marquee series requires bigger and bolder sfx, set-pieces, etc. Anything to keep hold the attention of mainstream gamers. This style of development is the main culprit for the ever increasing bloat of budgets.

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Sorenthaz

The cost of individual games have gone up, but the overall cost has gone down due to companies like EA/Activision/etc. only focusing on a select handful of games each year and shifting more and more to digital distribution. EA’s already made over like… 1.6billion or so? Off of Microtransactions this year alone.

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Dušan Frolkovič

And yet it again means that there are people out there ready to spend those 1.6 billion.
I know i am like a broken record, but if people will keep buying, they will keep exploiting that.

miol
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miol

Myth BUSTED!

Thank you so much for sharing this! <3

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Annoyed badger

You know this bloke is not an independent analyst, he is an investor analyst for…EA, and comcast.

EA reporter/analyst Evan Wingren gets caught with pants down. from gaming

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Utakata

Collusion…

First Party: “We didn’t do anything wrong.”

The Other Affected Party Covering It: “I TOTALLY believe them!” o.O

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Sorenthaz

He’s doing Satan’s work.

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Wilhelm Arcturus

We would have gotten away with our monetization scheme too if it hadn’t been for those meddling kids!

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McGuffn

Paradox gets a lot of hate, most of it unjustified, about their DLC policy, which over the years equates to “put out a ton of dlc.” But one way to make it worse is a DLC lockbox that gives you random pieces of DLC. You wanted an expansion? Oh well you got this sprite pack instead.

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Sorenthaz

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Sorenthaz

https://imgur.com/gallery/VpdEe

Gee there’s definitely not any argument-defeating bias here at all.

EA is really bad at hiding their astroturf attempts.

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Armsbend

What a sack of shit.

styopa
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styopa

Only $0.40/hour?

Let’s see, WoW was $50 for the game and $15/mo (let’s amortize that over the what, 2 years until TBC), at say conservatively 15 hours a week of play.
15 hours * 52 * 2 = 1560 hours of play.
Cost $410.

So, actually, we WERE paying about $0.25/hour.
In 2017 $0.33.

See, Mr Marketing guy: it’s not so much what you can squeeze from us, it’s perceived VALUE.
If you are trying to sell us something for $0.40 that used to cost $0.33, we see that as a ripoff.

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Alien Legion

Bree swore … in an article. I am not sure I ever remember that happening before.

That’s when you know you done messed up big time. It’s like being called by your full name after you bread a vase or something.

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Eamil

A friend of mine just linked me this on Discord.

https://imgur.com/gallery/VpdEe

Shill confirmed?

Durenas
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Durenas

Well, I mean, he’s not wrong in one sense. The price on games has not budged since the 90’s, and adjusting for inflation, we’re paying less for games now than we were back then.

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Sorenthaz

styopa
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styopa

Whups, no:

Durenas
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Durenas

Jim Sterling starts out by admitting that what I said was actually true, then goes on to say that all the additional things tacked on mean we actually pay more. He’s right. But season passes and DLC and all that extra stuff came in as a direct result of resistance from buyers from paying more at the checkout. This was publisher’s way of getting their extra money. This microtransaction jiggery allows the developer to not raise the retail price.

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Schmidt.Capela

And I can pay less than $15 per month to watch as many movies and series as I can fit in my schedule; you might want to look how much it would cost to rent a few dozen VCR tapes back in the 90s. And that doesn’t even take into account the sheer variety of free (or ad-supported) entertainment sources, like Youtube, or even Massively itself.

It’s not just games, it’s mass entertainment. At least the part of it that isn’t controlled by some kind of cartel, where competition still exists. The costs to distribute mass entertainment fell out of a cliff, while audience sizes have increased.

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Eamil

“The price on games has not budged since the 90’s”

I don’t know who started this meme but it’s flat-out not true. Games were $50 before the price went up during the last console generation, and even then PC games stayed $50 for a long time after console games went up to $60, then followed suit as well.

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Brother Maynard

Yup – just look at South Park. Three years ago, the Stick of Truth was selling for 39.99, now the Fractured But Whole goes for 59.99 + day one DLCs + season pass…

Sometimes I wonder how there can still be people believing the publishers’ BS these days…

Durenas
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Durenas

I was buying games in the 90’s and there is no meaningful difference in the retail box price between now and then. Maybe the price has gone up ten dollars, canadian? Meanwhile food costs about 3 times as much, and don’t even talk about the price of gas. So no, adjusting for inflation and the cost of living, we pay less for games now than we ever have.

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Brother Maynard

Cherry-picking and anecdotal evidence? Why not?

Because when talking about the average price of new AAA games worldwide, why wouldn’t you add a whataboutism talking about a couple of unrelated comodities in your local area?

And what if I told you that the price of those two items you cherry-picked – food and gas – has only marginally increased in my local area? What kind of argument would that be? 1) You have no way of knowing if this is true, or a case of my bad memory or simply a fabrication; 2) it is not representative of the whole economy and certainly not of the global economy (meanwhile big AAA titles are sold for more or less the same price the world over; 3) it has no relevance to the topic being discussed.

Yes, you can still buy games for 29.99. Or for less. Sometimes you have sales. Sometimes you buy an indie game for 9.99. However, when you look at new titles made by AAA studios, the evidence is irrefutable: for the “same price” (which in many cases is not the same at all – see my previous South Park example), you get only a part of the total content of the game and if you were to include everything that is released with it – with all those pre-order bonuses, various editions, founder packs, day one DLCs, season passes, collectibles and other bullshit (and thus be on par with the way AAA titles were sold 10-15 years ago) – you would end up with a significantly higher price, often at 100+ for a single game. And that excludes the various forms of microtransactions, which in the worst cases can inflate the price to hundreds and thousands per game.

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Zora

Alright, I am now in full possession of my mental faculties <_< and thus ready to remind myself primarily if not any analyst passing by that in a demand-and-offer environment, the prices are determined not by good will but simply by the extent to which the seller can push the price before the buyer withdraws its offer /sage nod

If goods are not priced any higher it's because their research shown that any more would cause the market to shrink, not grow. And if DLC, MT and whatever trickery they come up with is not enough to make up or people stop falling for it, publishers need to learn to budget themselves better, cut where cuts are possible and quit spending beyond what they can afford to for development and promotion.

If a random semi-literate school dropout mother-of-three housewife living in the middle of Winsconsin can, you big boys with an education and a high pay-grade job shouldn't have any issue right?

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Zora

I had something to say but rational thought will resume once I am done laughing, nice one :D

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zeko_rena

Well, Evan Wingren can go fuck himself.

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A Dad Supreme

He’s right. We do pay too little.

I got Uncharted 4 and Horizon: Zero Dawn from Amazon this week… both only $20 each! /wink

Seriously, unless it’s a “must have” game, I simply don’t buy new anymore. I just wait for the markdowns.

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Sorenthaz

Lockboxes would be fine and dandy if they gave cosmetics that didn’t make a difference on performance. But now we’re seeing P2W systems invade SINGLEPLAYER GAMES and mainstream games with online multiplayer… like they literally don’t care about anything other than luring people into spending exorbitant amounts of money for the same experience they could have gotten without lockbox shenanigans.

Nick Martin
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Nick Martin

Why is it okay to push lockboxes and punish players that enjoy and embrace the cosmetic portion of the game, but not those who are looking at other features?

Cosmetics are a gameplay system like any others… dismissing it as somehow not making a difference ignores the fact that for some players, myself included, that customization, control, and escape is one of the main reasons that we play. When that stuff is tied behind those paywalls, it means that we can’t get it.

The entire “cosmetic only” idea is just as BS as putting in mechanic benefits or weapon unlocks or anything else. It’s locking off a portion of the game, and the reason why someone would pick it up. In the RPG space, in games where it’s about embracing the character and putting yourself behind them, it’s even more insidious.

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Kevin Smith

The guy was right that we do pay little for gaming in reality to the cost of making the games. The problem is that the publishers/devs would rather use the micro-transactions instead of just raising the price outright. They make a hell of a lot more using the micro format than they would through a upfront raise in cost. This is a predatory practice that relies on those that do not have self control, ect… In todays world I would have no problem paying $75 to $100 up front if I got a great game with everything included. That last part is the problem even if they charged more they would still try to include the dlc’s on release day, ect… So in short the gamers have a right to be upset about the greedy practices that have been going on over the last decade or so, it seems to get worse every year.

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Sally Bowls

Just a technical point re

it’s the olds and Westerners who are complaining (the implication being they can ignore what “dinosaurs” think as Millennials and foreigners will let it slide, I guess?)

IMO, the point is that not-now-olds and non-Westerners are going to be a bigger part of the market. If you’re a public company, you would prefer to tell investors your target market is not old, Western customers. That is true not just for games but for cars or most anything. There is a reason advertisers will pay more for 1M views of eSports viewers than baseball viewers. An example from when businesses were still processing change was the Atlanta (IIRC) newspaper did a survey and the number one reason people unsubscribed from their newspaper was dying. That is not a healthy long-term business.

Demographic trends are easy to forecast, and important.
https://www.forbes.com/sites/adamhartung/2017/01/16/the-1-trend-for-planning-demographics-and-why-people-are-fleeing-illinois

E.g,, if you ask old, Western people about mobile, especially predominately F2P mobile, “you get a lot of pushback.” That does not so much change where/what companies want to target as to who they want to listen to. China has become the largest gaming market. Remember 2013 and the T2 CEO said “We’re actively investing in online MMOs; we’re not doing it in the US. Why? Because MMOs don’t work here,” Zenick” The hyperbolic summary is that it may not matter what is said about the future of MMOs in English, since the future of MMOs will be written elsewhere.

Cadaver
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Cadaver

Companies can listen to whoever they want. But the biggest global demographic trend is towards aging populations, and not just in the west. I don’t think companies should be so quick to disregard the ‘olds’. They generally have the largest disposable incomes. The young face employment instability, along with an increasing tax burden and less disposable income for non-essentials like games and entertainment. Of course, the real problem with the olds is that experience breeds discernment. Youngsters are simply easier to manipulate and exploit, and thus a more attractive target/audience.

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Armsbend

How did they check the box that said, “I’m dead.”?

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Denice J. Cook

So…this Big Rich Guy….does he own stock in EA then? ;)

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Brother Maynard

He does now…

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rafael12104

Evan Wingren. Hello!

You are now clickbait. Just saying, that if you wanted a little fame, if you wanted to increase your views, you got it and then some. I hope it doesn’t get too ugly for you, but I should hope you understand the reaction or maybe “overreaction” to use your own word.

So, I don’t want to take too long here, because I could talk for a good 30 mins nonstop on what is wrong with your analysis. So, I’ll just hit the big topics.

First, the issue isn’t how much we pay, the issue is how EA is choosing to make a profit. It is as simple as that. Your penny per hour analytics do not mean shit if a predatory practice is how EA chooses to close the gap. And, it doesn’t mean shit if that penny pinching is at the cost of a brand or IP that prints money at all hours, Star Wars.

Now, I’m going to be nice and hold back. Because honestly, given your comment of an overreaction to a situation where customer feedback was taken by a company or companies and used to make a product more appealing, you have no idea how a free market economy works.

Evan Wingren, learn basic economics, please. Demand shapes supply. That is as simple as I can put it for you. And you know what? If you can’t sell any product at more than what it cost to make? You have to raise your price or get the fuck out. This is basic eco 101 stuff, Evan.

So, plug that into your spreadsheet. And let EA know you tried.

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Nathaniel Downes
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Nathaniel Downes

The issue with Evan Wingren’s numbers is that he makes an erroneous assumption for them. He assumes a monthly payment rate. That is not, however, how the microtransactions in Battlefront II were set up. Instead it is set up as time for money, so it must be compared like for like.

To unlock everything in Microtransactions came to over $2,100 originally, or 4,528 hours if you unlocked them through gameplay. Compare that to the profile he posts, of $240 paid annually for 912.5 hours. So, instead of $0.40, Battlefront 2 was designed for a value ratio of $2.16/hr.

His model would not work because the sales model is built around what is effectively pay to win. Unless you paid up front (not monthly as suggested) you would be at a competitive disadvantage in a large, multiplayer PvP game. Which would mean that to hit his target $0.40 price point for a year of entertainment, one would need to play 6 hours per day, something few of us have the time for.

I highly suspect that if Battlefront 2’s microtransactions were skins, say “Tatooine Luke” or “Slave Leia”, the feedback would not have been so pervasive across the board. Release new skins over time, base them on comic books, cut scenes, etc, lots of options out there. Say each unlockable character is developed with 6 skins, unlock through gameplay at a reasonable rate, say 200 hours for all of them, and sell the skins through microtransactions. How much complaint would there have been? Just the usual grumbling is what I would expect.

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Castagere Shaikura

Yeah all this crap is going to blow up in these game companies faces sooner or later. So sick and tired of all money grubbing crap in mmo’s and i stopped playing EA products awhile ago. And if we gamers really want it to stop then we have to stop spending the money on this stuff instead of bitching about it on Reddit. And that may mean to play different games instead of the ones that force this stuff on us like mmo’s and shooter games. Lately i have been just playing Diablo 3 and having a blast knowing everything i get drops freely in the game and i’m building some powerful characters.

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Tobasco da Gama

Translation: this guy had a lot of EA stock and he’s pissed about how much money he lost this month.

Mukit
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Mukit

Meh, the last month of EA’s stock price means little. If you’d bought EA 12 months ago you would be up 30%+ and if you’d done that 5 years ago you’d be sitting on 500%+. I dislike a lot about EA’s design/development/marketing/PR decisions, but their stock (thankfully) hasn’t followed the same woeful trend (at least, not yet).

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Arktouros

My goal number I like to aim for is around $1/hr for my entertainment but that can vary. The higher quality the experience the higher I’m willing to go. I look at something like the Total War Warhammer 1/2 series and I’ve paid probably $180 for all the expansions/DLC and the two base games (non-sale prices) but I have over 330 hours of play time between the two (and many more to come) so I don’t mind.

Biggest issue I think people, in general, have trouble understanding that they’re willingly or unwillingly part of a society that makes up a game’s customer base. That society is going to be full of different values and different viewpoints. You’re going to have the guy who wants $0.10/hr for his entertainment and the gal who doesn’t mind going $5/hr for hers. What that means is you might not be average, nor might you be the target audience for when an item goes for sale. Chances are pretty good if your reaction is “That {item} is almost as much as the base game price!” it probably wasn’t designed or sold with you in mind.

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Dug From The Earth

Society already has set (not necessarily intentionally) guidelines for the cost of things as far as entertainment goes. The problem is, its not consistent.

For example:

90 bucks for a day at Disney Land – Assuming you are there for 9 hours, thats basically 10 bucks an hour.

12 bucks for a movie ticket – For a 2 hour movie, thats 6 bucks an hour

20-30 bucks for a movie Blu-ray – (here is where it gets tricky). If you only watch it once, thats about 10-15 bucks an hour. However, many watch their movies multiple times over the course of owning it. If you were to watch the blu-ray 10 times over the course of its lifetime, then your are only paying about 1-1.5 dollars an hour for the entertainment.

Video game – 60 bucks
– For a 6 hour single player campaign – thats 10 bucks an hour
– For 60 hours of multiplayer competitive play – Thats 1 dollar an hour
– For an MMORPG (no sub), like GW2, you might have 500+ hours = barely anything per hour. (this is why subscriptions were made imo.)

Quite simply, its not accurate or rational to judge your entertainment only by a per hour value anymore, because its simply too inconsistent.

We need to start judging our entertainment by additional forms of “worth” beyond just how many hours of entertainment it gives us. Things like quality need to play a big role in what we consider the value of something is worth.

For example, a Battlefield single player campaign, is typically around 5 hours. I dont find it to be good enough quality of a game, added to the short time, to warrant 60 dollars from me. Now, if I plan on playing multiplayer too, then that adds more value since i consider Battlefield multiplayer to be extremely well made, fun, and quality gameplay.

Unfortunately, too many of these big AAA companies have hardly ANY focus on making a good, quality game. They aim for either making us believe in greatness based on visual amazingness, or they make the game a slog fest repetitive grind to take up a ton of our time, to make us feel like because we put in 40+ hours, it was worth us paying 60 dollars.

Its time games started to be worth the amount they are having us pay for them. If they want us to pay more than 60, then they have a LOT more work to do at making it worth that cost imo.

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Arktouros

There are zero social standards or norms or guidelines for entertainment cost per hour and nor was that my point. Your Disneyland point allows for a perfect example of what I’m talking about.

Family A goes to Disneyland and pays $100 a ticket for 3 people. They go in, they see the rides, and spend another $100 on food throughout the full day. So they’re out $400 for their 10 hours.

Family B goes to Disneyland and pays $100 a ticket for 3 people (cause I couldn’t find details on their FASTPASS or MAXPASS premium pricing). They go in, see the rides, spend another $150 on food throughout the day as well as another $150 on merch they bought throughout the day. So they’re out $600 for their 10 hours.

Now does Family A go on to reddit and start crying about how the system is rigged and Disneyland is Pay2Win? No. Because in virtually every entertainment industry out there you have the base experience and then you have premium experience. This is a new concept in gaming and like every new thing that creates a “haves” and “haves nots” the people who typically won’t have (awkward to say but I think it works) are going to complain as loudly as they can. They’re going to throw out words like “Greed” and “Ethical” and other value based concepts to serve as the backbone of their arguments because if they’re “in the right” you certainly don’t want to be “in the wrong” right?

In time, this won’t even be a thing.

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Witches

You forget the part where Disney and Disneyland went bankrupt many times in their history, if it wasn’t for the value of the brand and the money of more competent businessmen it wouldn’t exist anymore.

1 million “have nots” that spend 5€ are worth more than two millionaires spending 1 million each, they go after the whales because they can’t make a product good enough to attract the much larger number of small fish, it isn’t just a question of greed, it’s also about competence.

EA males lots of money, so for to the average joe it looks like they are doing fine, the problem is more and more rival companies are doing “more fine” than they are.

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Arktouros

I didn’t forget it because Disney going bankrupt is irrelevant to the main over all arching point that nearly every entertainment industry has some sort of normal product and some sort of premium version. This occurs because within the over all group of customers some are okay with a $60/hr experience and others are okay with a $40/hr experience.

We could use any various combination of fictitious customer/amount numbers to swing the numbers in our favor. 200k people paying $40 is going to be even greater money than 1m people paying $5. So on and so forth. In fact a great deal of effort at major companies like EA gets spent on studying what people are and aren’t willing to pay. They have a wealth of information and customer data to pour over through their various games that lead to the kind of business strategies we see employed in games today. Even the Battlefront fiasco will simply be focus grouped and analyzed until they come up with the right answer next time that will min-max their returns.

Greed is an irrelevant platitude that has no place when discussing for-profit businesses. The only reason people bring up greed is an attempt to grab the moral high ground because they think that sanctifies their viewpoint as morally superior. However in reality it’s like saying an ocean is more wet than a river. They offer premium business to whales because it’s profitable to do so. No more, no less. However people are trying to make more out of it because they’re not the intended audience and that upsets them that one group of people is being offered and catered to and they are not.

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Tithian

I wonder how much money he got from EA for this. It should be a good chunk, considering he made a laughing stock out of himself.

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Dug From The Earth

So its a “Ignore the large crowd outside, its really just 2 people who are rioting” situation. Got it.

The community need to treat people like this, as being more BS and more problematic, than the actual lockboxes themselves.

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Armsman

It’s a gaming spin on the new “Fake News” narrative by the idiot in chief. The old:

“The majority of people are fine with and it’s only certain media lying to make an issue out of nothing…”

And yes Evan Wingren and others like him need to be called out on crap like this because it’s the usual crap about poor Wallstreet not being able to get maximum return on everything and unbridled Capitalism is the best thing ever.

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Schmidt.Capela

Not just unbridled capitalism, but a version where cartels run rampant.

That kind of reasoning he used, of how games are cheaper than alternative entertainment sources, is something you can only use if you have monopoly power, be it through an actual monopoly or a cartel. Otherwise, if there is actual competition, companies competing for the consumer dollar will undercut each other and drive prices down.

Given that indies have taken a not-so-insignificant part of the market in recent years, it would actually be interesting to see the big companies attempt to make use of cartel practices like these. My guess is that it would sharply increase the market share of indies.

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Dug From The Earth

They are just a “Few” but the real problem here is that companies like EA, listen to them. That is what is scary and worrisome

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MeltWithYou

“In other business news, which does not involve the 1% informing us that we unwashed masses should be grateful for the pixels EA is generously donating to us:”

Couldn’t have said it better myself Bree ;)

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Brother Maynard

A match made in heaven! Now we only need big tobacco and gun advocacy lobbyists to join KeyBanc Capital Markets financial analyst Evan Wingren and give their support to EA and other greedy publishers.

I mean if the fact that the Gordon Gekkos of our world are joining with EA won’t win this for the players, then nothing will.

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Arktouros

Big tobacco and gun advocacy? Don’t be ridiculous.

What they need to get into with is the major Credit companies. The new “EA Gold Card brought to you by Capital One.” This way they can collect interest on the credit you used to buy their gamble boxes.

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johnwillo

I think that in the case of EA, it’s always been Gekkos all the way down.

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Brother Maynard

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Sleepy

So, he’s crying fake news basically? How very American.

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