As the controversy over Star Wars: Battlefront II, and microtransactions in general, rattles on it’s clear that the whole situation is more complicated than simply one publisher getting a bit too greedy.
The underlying reason for microtransactions is the same as that for season passes and traditional DLC. It’s a way of increasing the overall cost of a game without raising its initial price tag. Which in turn is meant to compensate for the fact that video games are more expensive than ever to make, but are still more or less the same price they were decades ago.
Or at least that’s the way many publishers see it, even though they’ll never say it out loud.
But analyst Evan Wingren at KeyBanc Capital Markets has said that, ‘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’, he adds.
‘We view the negative reaction to Star Wars: Battlefront II (and industry trading sympathy) as an opportunity to add to Electronic Arts, Take-Two, and Activision Blizzard positions. The handling of the launch by EA has been poor; despite this, we view the suspension of MTX [microtransactions] in the near term as a transitory risk’, says his note to investors, as reported by CNBC.
In other words he’s advising people to buy stock in the big publishers because he thinks the whole controversy is overblow and won’t last long.
‘Gamers aren’t overcharged, they’re undercharged (and we’re gamers)’, he adds. ‘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 admits there is now a ‘slightly higher probability’ that Battlefront II won’t hit its target of 13 million sales, which seems an understatement given sales were down 61% at retail.
‘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,’ concludes Wingren.
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