'Gamers Are Undercharged' Says Market Analyst After Star Wars Battlefront 2 'Overreaction'

Written by Jon Sutton on Tue, Nov 21, 2017 11:28 AM
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It’s easy to view EA temporarily removing microtransactions from Star Wars Battlefront 2 as some sort of victory. It’s not. It’s a plaster over a gaping wound that’s simply going to push the industry in another direction - price increases. KeyBanc Capital market analyst Evan Wingren has waded into the controversy with a statement to investors, downplaying the removal of Star Wars Battlefront II’s microtransactions as a “transitory risk.”

"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,” writes Wingren. “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. 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.

"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."

The thrust of that last paragraph is generally on point. The cost of games has stayed in the same ballpark for years and years, and in real terms, they’ve actually decreased. I could’ve picked up Assassin’s Creed Origins for £37 on launch day for example, while Super Mario 64 cost £60 when it launched in 1996. Prices have stagnated while the cost of making games has risen inexorably; offset, of course, by the huge growth of the games industry.

One side of the argument is that if these games are too expensive to develop to turn a profit (resulting in a reliance on microtransactions to get in the black), then the likes of EA simply needs to lower its development budgets. This would result in AAA games with lower production values, however, which could in turn impact sales.

The alternative is to charge gamers more in the first place. Rather than $60 for Star Wars Battlefront 2, the standard price could be $90 with no microtransactions, no paid map packs, etc. To me, that starts to seem like a fair deal when you compare buying a game to the $15 cost of going to see a two-hour movie. However, this scenario relies entirely on the game you’re playing being worth the time and money you’re investing. If you drop $20 a month on microtransactions for Battlefront 2, Wingren deems that great “bang for your buck” versus watching the Star Wars movie. It’ll get you a lot of playing time, sure, but is that money well spent?

Where I really differ from Wingren though, and where he seems to fundamentally misread the core gaming market, is when he claims the fan backlash of microtransactions is “a perform storm of overreaction” and then ties it into the cost. The problems with Star Wars Battlefront 2 aren’t as simple as that. The issue isn’t necessarily even that there are microtransactions, but rather that these purchases directly impact the quality of your experience and those you play with. It’s pay-to-win, in a nutshell. It’s one thing charging $100 for a game, it’s another thing entirely to charge $60 plus an unlimited number of microtransactions in order to stay competitive. It fundamentally upsets the core balance of the game.

I think we could be discussing the aftermath of Star Wars Battlefront 2 for a while to come. Microtransactions in full-priced titles are by no means dead in the water and the likes of EA will be desperately seeking an alternative solution. They want that extra revenue source which can potentially keep a game earning for years after launch.

So do you feel you're being undercharged for the biggest games? Would you be okay with a price hike? Let us know!

Which would you rather happen?

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11:25 Nov-23-2017

Undercharged?! How god damn greedy are those people. They rake in millions upon millions. Is this not enough?!

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11:09 Nov-25-2017

Not when they are spending millions upon millions... it's NOT about how much you get, it's about how much you profit and apart from the 20-25 most popular AAA studios and 10 more indie/f2p studios the rest of the over 1000 studios are having a hard time...

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21:56 Nov-25-2017

Yay one of the one hundred games out of the thousands of games that would NOT be affected... cherry-picking is easy...

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10:06 Nov-26-2017

I think there's a difference b/w the few big budget AAA publishers and the 'thousands of' other games that are Indies ...

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23:34 Nov-22-2017

Downvotes coming but I just have to say it. Here is what i think about your price increase and microtransactions .I. may tbp be forever blessed.

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19:40 Nov-22-2017

To be honest i will never pay more than 50£ for a game, never!!! Game devs are more and more lazy right now. In the past to finish single player campaign in most FPS games you needed 8-10 hours, at least... Now it's a f... joke. You can finish COD:WW2 or BF2 in 4 hours.. So the game should actually cost less, not more... Sooner gamers will start to play in a indie games, less expensive but more interesting than will pay more for games.

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16:44 Nov-22-2017

microtransactions are ok as long as it doesn't impact the game balance and if it's not selling the things that should have been in the main game in the first place.
for example a golden lightsaber is cool as long as it's just visual effect

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16:46 Nov-22-2017

but what about unlocking cosmetics through achievements, challenges and progression instead of paying? It used to be so fun, my favorite example are the god of war series.

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17:48 Nov-22-2017

Some people don't wanna do that, if you want to have the personal accomplishment of unlocking a cosmetic, the option is there. If people wanna pay for cosmetics, that's on them as well.

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13:12 Nov-23-2017

no I do NOT know of many NEW games that allow you to unlock ALL cosmetics through playing that do NOT include a currency.

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14:24 Nov-23-2017

Super Mario Odyssey

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15:29 Nov-23-2017

Cool! At least nintendo aren't that greedy(with some of their games), no way I could though as the last nintendo console I own is the gamecube XD
And I do NOT plan on buying the switch until it get a new version with more battery and memory cards become cheaper, you can NOT store almost any games on 64GB cards and 128GB, 256GB and above are just too expensive and NOT worth and in my country there are barely any physical copies of Nintendo games and even some games are NOT available in physical format(sad).

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05:21 Nov-24-2017

@Psychoman What games can you not unlock all cosmetics unless you pay?

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21:16 Nov-24-2017

Everything pre 2010 to my knowledge, my favorite example are the god of war series, but all older fighter games, all older racing games, all older adventure games and even modern adventure games like tomb raider 2013, I think they added micro-transactions in Rise of the tomb raider, but I could be wrong. Just older games in general.

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07:11 Nov-25-2017

@Psychoman What about being in-game and telling your friends all about this super rare item you got through grinding only to have your friends be unimpressed by some noob who just bought it. Destroys the community if you ask me.

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11:17 Nov-25-2017

Yes, another great example!

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11:53 Nov-22-2017

Does the "market analyst" even have the slightest idea who the majority of customers are and how much they are can to spend?

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11:50 Nov-22-2017

Where is the "less greed from developers" button?

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08:03 Nov-22-2017

Evan Wingren in an EA investor, he works with/for EA and Comcast, his argument is just a BS butthurt response by an EA shill who is salty as f!@#!

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05:53 Nov-22-2017

Problem with BF2 is they made the game to make as fast money back to investors as possible.To the point that customers realize how "unsafe" this environment can be for them and leave.While other big shooters ensured that they will live long

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06:04 Nov-22-2017

CSGO, Overwatch , R6S are not having this problem and counting money right now because at least they ensured people that their games will be there and still be fun and fair (for at least 5 years) so people have no problem buying their stuff

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06:14 Nov-22-2017

In short, EA and "Analyst", Just calm the F down. It's just you not the whole market. Yes , games are much more expensive to make. But you should take a look at smart solutions out there. It's not a magic or sorcery.

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07:14 Nov-25-2017

Games are not that expensive to make, it's just that people whine when the graphics aren't good enough. But when they do make the graphics good enough, the gameplay sucks because they didn't optimize the game. I would rather have the new SWBF2 look like the old SWBF2 and have all the same features as the new SWBF2 as long as it is playable at a competitive level.

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05:28 Nov-22-2017

Jim Sterling has a special message for this 'analyst' at the end - https://youtu.be/k3QQe1Rm0Eo?t=331

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09:46 Nov-22-2017

That's my kind of message, short and to the point! :))

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23:47 Nov-21-2017

I believe the main problem with gaming industry as a whole today is the fact that none of them are actually made for
specific audiences in mind. Every single corporate businessman wants every single game they produce to be appealing to every
single person who plays games. And that's never going to happen. Every single person has their preferences. Some will play
certain games and some wont.

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23:47 Nov-21-2017

It just shows how detached corporations are from actual products they help produce. There are dozens of great franchises that've been destroyed by this mindset, dozens of great development studios closed because of this.
Publishers expect every single game they create to be played by everyone, that's why most of them are considered failures.

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23:47 Nov-21-2017

Not because they don't turn profit, but because they've never reached their simply unreachable expectations. If 90% of AAA games created (as they tend to say) don't make profit, why the hell do they keep making them!?

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00:16 Nov-22-2017

Dead on man.

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23:08 Nov-21-2017

I absolutely love this article due to the fact that this shows they do not understand why everyone is so upset. It's not that microtransactions are in the game, it's that how much they affect the gameplay. League is a perfect example of a F2P model. Doesn't affect gameplay and provides something that people want.

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23:10 Nov-21-2017

The only way microtransactions should be in a AAA game is that they provide something that doesn't come off as forced and that they allow people to spend money when they want to spend money, feeling that the game has provided enough enjoyment to constitute spending money.

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23:21 Nov-21-2017

The only way microtransactions should be inside a full priced game is none. The very reason why we got here is because people let it get this far by accepting the "cosmetics only" argument. Companies are ****ing greedy, and they'll always push for more, more and more, until people stand up and say that's enough. This was the logical next step. It was bound to happen and it did.

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23:23 Nov-21-2017

And it's not going to end nor stop unless people firmly dig their feet into the ground and say enough.
They will push further and we'll eventually see this again in the future. They will just take tome and be much more subtler this time. Mark my words.

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22:57 Nov-21-2017

So when a group of ten hobbyists can make a game that rivals, or even surpasses triple A games for 1\1000th of the budget, these guys expect me to think I'm not paying enough for these games?

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23:43 Nov-21-2017

GD's formatting rekt my comment. That should read one one thousandth.

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22:29 Nov-21-2017

He's right, and it's what I've been saying. Gamers do NOT know what they are actually doing, and it's not going back to the glory days of old. A price hike is inevitable, it has been for a long time now.


Inflation alone has risen drastically in the last 20 years. Even ignoring all other factors (which do exist), this will NEED to be finally acknowledged.

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23:16 Nov-21-2017

That's absolute bull****. One AAA game today tends to earn more money than the whole gaming industry did combined 15 years ago. And that's including inflation. For games that are "too expensive" to make publisher tend to double their profits every damn year.

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23:16 Nov-21-2017

It's not consumers fault that they spend unimaginable amounts of money on something people have constantly proven can be done with extremely less to a same degree of quality to it. They are greedy as hell is all they are.

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00:27 Nov-22-2017

Also new tools, both in management and in developement software, are making games aeasier and faster to produce; this in turn, makes them cheaper to make.


Fk me, it's not like one of the highest priorities for a company is to cut down costs, RIGHT?...

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00:48 Nov-22-2017

Exactly. Literally anyone today with a few YouTube tutorials and some spare time can create a fully functional game using completely free online software. It certainly won't be a good game but it will still be a game.
Also tons of indie studios have shown that you can make amazing games with a fraction of the cost AAA studios work with.

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02:35 Nov-22-2017

Yea, KotOR Apeiron comes to my mind, just check out the looks of that game. And it's just a handfull of people.


I think visual programing (the one where you don't write code for the most part, you just put togheter pieces of premade code together.), and the high visual fidelity that can be achieved with relative ease through engines like UE4 and Unity.


I think in the future tools such...

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02:41 Nov-22-2017

..as these that aim towards efficiency, will allow very small groups of people to give AAA studios more than a run for their money, and oh man that could be quite the revolution in the industry.

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22:25 Nov-21-2017

I wouldn't say undercharged, but I sympathize with the argument that relative to a lot of things like other forms of entertainment, the cost of games is quite cheap in comparison.
And the cost of a decent gaming PC can be argued both ways. Its an additional cost that has to be taken into account. But the counterpoint is that if you can afford a gaming pc, you can afford the games.

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22:29 Nov-21-2017

So I would say gamers are currently not undercharged -- for the simple reason that suggesting that companies like EA would leave money on the table is ridiculous.
But gaming as a whole, as an entertainment industry, definitely has room to increase prices in the future because of the "bang for buck" it provides.

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22:37 Nov-21-2017

As for the survey, I would rather the budget be cut, but at the right places. Marketing is such a waste and should be cut. For personal reasons, I would prefer any cuts to game development be at the cost of length rather than visuals/gameplay, since I dont mind playing shorter games for lack of time anyway.

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22:01 Nov-21-2017

Evan Wingren, the analyst who made this statement, works as an investment analyst for DRUM ROLL......


EA.

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00:42 Nov-22-2017

This is the stuff that makes me sick, companies like EA are so far up their own as*es that instead of listening to their consumers, they go like: "fk u, we are not wrong, you guys are wrong and you should think our way. Just let me lie to you in a sec..."


I mean, who has already forgotten when EA taught us that the human eye can't see past 24 fps? Even their PR is deceitful BS.

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01:35 Nov-22-2017

How f'n ironic.

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11:47 Nov-22-2017

Oh s**t that's awesome good catch on that one haha. EA is now, never getting my business, and if they do, i'll be buying from third parties so they get SCREWED.

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21:37 Nov-21-2017

I need to know, why are people suggesting less marketing? Do you not understand how important to, not just gaming, but to movies/tv/general product/etc is to sales? Business is massively built upon marketing. You can profit without marketing, sure, but marketing is a big part of all business.

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23:00 Nov-21-2017

Russians spent 100000 thousand dollars during the 2016 election on advertisements and got comparable results to the millions spent by triple A publishers and movie publishers. So yes, less marketing would probably help DRASTICALLY.

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05:36 Nov-22-2017

I don't even know what you're trying to imply.

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09:07 Nov-22-2017

I'm saying that companies blowing millions of dollars to advertise their games to people who aren't even going to buy it is a stupid practice that is unfortunately common place in the industry atm. Not spending this money and targeting core demographics would help massively. This is why less marketing would be a good thing. Less, but higher quality marketing that is.

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05:27 Nov-24-2017

So you're suggesting marketing to smaller demographics instead of to the masses? That's actually poor marketing and business lol. I understand the concept that you would argue quality over quantity, but that's not always going to be the case. Thus why we have smaller developers who do what you suggested.

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05:30 Nov-24-2017

Further more. A big company like EA that has 100xs the amount of employees have much more expenses than a company of 10-20 people making a game for smaller demographics. So when they shut down a studio, people cry it's unfair.. But they also cry when they have 1500 people working on one game. You can't get both.

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18:12 Nov-25-2017

You can try and make a game for everyone but then it just ends up being liked by no one. And no, targeting marketing is brilliant marketing and any serious company should be doing it. You can't say it's bad when we have examples of it clearly working. ID Software's freeware distribution is another great example. It showed up at computer and gaming stores, not launderettes. Hell, Ghost in the Shell has always been niche because it's just decades ahead of its time. It still got a movie and a game lately, not to mention developments a couple years before that. You may be marketing to a smaller demographic but it's the smaller demographics that'll but the game in the first place.

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21:16 Nov-21-2017

That analyst can shove it up his a$$. Blow less money on bullsh*t publicity and see profits increase instantly.
Besides, 15 bucks in the US for a movie..? That's expensive, even compared to the UK (it's what, 7-10 quid, depending on the cinema and time of day) xD

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21:36 Nov-21-2017

So you're saying marketing isn't important to sales and profits?

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22:53 Nov-21-2017

Have you been to a game show/event recently? The money just wasted on those MASSIVE flashing loud console displays and whatnot just made me puke in my mouth...
Marketing is obviously important, any business person will tell you that, but it seems to detract from the final game these days. Studio budgets get cut, deadlines shorter and the devs are forced to deliver the product on time regardless of its state. There has to be a line, you know... As consumers we already put up with a LOT of crap, especially in the recent years.

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23:28 Nov-21-2017

Of course marketing is important but not to this absurd degree. Honestly I'm starting to think that half of the money which they're spending to "make" a game goes to the marketing department. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if the size of the marketing department dedicated to promote a certain game is bigger than the whole team of programmers, artists and designers combined.

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00:08 Nov-22-2017

Marketing is a necessary inefficiency. I think of it as something akin to accounting, audit, and legal fees. It doesnt provide any value add to society. In an ideal world they wouldnt exist. Obviously that cant happen, but they should be minimized for everyone's benefit.

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21:16 Nov-21-2017

But games arent 60$ anymore. You pay 60$ for the game, 20-30$ for the season pass, dlc that isnt included in the season pass also exists and different versions of the game (deluxe edition, deluxxxe edition, gold edition, silver edition).

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23:33 Nov-21-2017

Exactly. For 60$ you only get a basic shell of something that should've been a full game. There aren't any AAA games released today which do not contain DLC's, season passes and multiple different versions of the same game.
Games costing 60$ is honestly a god damn lie at this point.
There are of course some notable exceptions but even they are less and less now.

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20:47 Nov-21-2017

Bigger the budget, more is wasted on marketing and less on the actual game.


Games right now are actually overpriced.

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20:36 Nov-21-2017

"Rather than $60 for Star Wars Battlefront 2, the standard price could be $90 with no microtransactions, no paid map packs, etc. To me, that starts to seem like a fair deal"


Dear Mr/Mrs Analyst: EAT SH*T


sincerly


IzanagiXZ

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22:40 Nov-21-2017

Those were Jon's words and not the analyst's?

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22:54 Nov-21-2017

Fail xD

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14:26 Nov-23-2017

lol, I guess the better way to put it would 'fairer' deal. Not a good deal, but a fairer deal. goes to eat sh-t

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