Well, here’s a take you won’t be hearing on next week’s Jimquisition: KeyBanc Capital Markets analyst Evan Wingren believes that gamers are overreacting over Star Wars Battlefront 2’s microtransaction saga – and that publishers should increase the price of their software as they’re undercharging. We sure hope he doesn’t have a public Twitter account.
Here’s what he told clients in a report: “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 and outlets who dislike microtransactions.” While the dogpiling has been intense, we’ll politely disagree with Wingren here – ever since Middle-earth: Shadow of War revealed its controversial loot boxes, this kind of backlash has been coming. Battlefront 2 is just the straw that broke the camel’s back, to quote an old cliché.
Wingren believes that the controversy will probably affect the title’s sales, with its 13 million units forecast now potentially in jeopardy. Despite all of this, he thinks the price of games is too low. “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,” he explained. “Quantitative analysis shows that video game publishers are actually charging gamers at a relatively inexpensive rate, and should probably raise prices.”
The analyst used maths to prove his point, explaining that at $60 for the base game and $20 in microtransactions per month, gamers who play 2.5 hours per day for a year are being charged roughly 40 cents per hour of entertainment. This, Wingren proposes, is cheaper than the 80 cents per hour most spend on television – or $3 per hour in a movie theatre.
But the flaw in his argument is that most people won’t play for 2.5 hours per day for an entire year, thus substantially bumping up the cost per hour. Moreover, many would argue that the way microtransactions are used may actually deter some from spending that amount of time with the title in the first place. Either way, EA’s clearly spooked – it’s already removed all in-app purchased from the shooter, and it’s also in the process of revising Need for Speed: Payback’s progression, which uses a similar system.