Video game company Electronic Arts (EA) has revealed that its “Star Wars: Battlefront II” game has suffered from poor sales amid a controversy over microtransactions, although the company has doubled down in support of those very same microtransactions.
Blake Jorgensen, the company’s chief financial officer, stated during an earnings call on Tuesday that the game had only sold 9 million copies, below the projected 10 million goal and the over 14 million copies of bought of the previous “Battlefront” game.
“Battlefront II,” which released last November, is the sequel to the 2015 reboot of the popular shooting game. Even before its official release, the game was mired in controversy as its heavy emphasis on microtransactions–purchases made with real money for in-game items–made the game seem a pay-to-win scenario.
EA CEO Andrew Wilson emphasized Tuesday that the company was not backing down on its stance regarding microtransactions. “Going forward, we believe that live services that include optional digital monetization, when done right, provide a very important element of choice that can extend and enhance the experience in our games,” Wilson said. “We’re committed to continually working with our players to deliver the right experience in each of our games and live services.”
Wilson called the failure of “Battlefront II” a “learning experience” and stated that the company was working on more updates to the game that would be released in the months ahead.
Many gamers expressed dissatisfaction with the what they believed was a greedy ploy to make them pay extra for a game they already purchased and called for a boycott against the game, refusing to purchasing it and asking others to do the same.
In the wake of the backlash, EA removed microtransactions from the game the day before it went on sale, although the company stated that they would be reinstated at a later date.
Wilson also denied rumors that the negative press and potential damage to the “Star Wars” name had adversely affected the relationship between EA and Disney, which licensed the intellectual property to the hit movie franchise.
“You shouldn’t believe everything you read in the press,” Wilson said. “We have a tremendous relationship with Disney and we have built some amazing games together, and we have been very proactive with that relation in the service of our players.”
It was reported that mere hours before the EA announcement that microtransactions would be suspended, Disney consumer products and interactive media chairman Jimmy Pitaro contacted Wilson, suggesting that Disney strong-armed EA into removing them to protect their brand image. Still, Wilson emphasized Disney’s support during the investor call and stated his belief that the company would back the reinstatement of loot boxes.
The backlash against “Battlefront II” increased as lawmakers in Belgium declared the game’s loot boxes, items purchased via microtransactions that grant players randomly generated items, as gambling and banned them in the country. While lawmakers in countries like Australia have deemed this idea ridiculous and declared that loot boxes do not constitute gambling, Hawaiian legislators are looking to regulate the sale of any game using loot boxes to anyone under the age of 21 to prevent “predatory practices” targeted towards children.
Washington state senator Kevin Ranker introduced a bill on January 11 asking the Washington State Gambling Commission to conduct a study that would definitely determine whether or not games with loot boxes and microtransactions are akin to gambling and are harmful for children.
“Star Wars: Battlefront II” is available for Playstation 4, Xbox One, and PC for $59.99.