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Star Wars Battlefront won't save the Battlefield franchise - SuperData

The game should see $800m in revenues but it won't reverse Battlefield's continued decline, says firm

The game industry will soon be entering the typically busy fourth quarter, as publishers seek to put their best foot forward with blockbuster franchises on time for the holidays. One of the biggest games to hit the market will be EA's Star Wars Battlefront on November 17, which EA wisely timed to launch right before Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens hits theaters in December. But as much as people love Star Wars, the analysts at SuperData still believe that the Battlefield franchise from which it stems is poised for further declines.

"Mechanically, Star Wars Battlefront is based firmly in EA's Battlefield franchise. With 7 million copies sold across platforms, including 1.7 million via full game download on console, Battlefield 4 proved successful, though heralded the decline of the franchise. Even as the console user base expands, sales of each new addition to the franchise has seen faster post-launch-month drops and digital earnings keep dropping faster," noted SuperData CEO Joost van Dreunen in his latest report.

Star Wars Battlefront is projected to see revenues of just under $800 million, but will be facing stiff competition during the holidays from the likes of Halo 5 Guardians, Fallout 4, Call of Duty: Black Ops III and more. Additionally, SuperData pointed out that one of the problems encountered after the launch of Battlefield 4 (that is, the lack of a server browser) seems to be a mistake that EA is about to repeat. "Rather than being able to peruse and select servers on their own, players are expected to wait in a lobby before being matched with other players. EA's recent confirmation that Star Wars Battlefront will not offer a server browser will hinder the game from reaching a critical mass of online players quickly and lessen its appeal. Instead, the publisher is promising 'a new skill-based matchmaking system,' but has yet to explain what that means exactly," van Dreunen continued.

Ultimately, the game will have gift giving appeal but that could hinder the digital portion of its sales too, SuperData hypothesized. "Because of the well-known franchise to which it belongs, the game stands to do well among those purchasing the game as a gift for someone else. At the same time, this will also limit its digital appeal, as most people tend to want to give a wrapped gift rather than a download code. Nonetheless, by timing the game's release with the movie, it will reach maximum exposure right before the holiday season. In a parallel universe, however, we observe that the Star Wars IP proved unable to turn the tides for Angry Birds. After its initial success, Rovio has fallen on harder times, having to let go of several hundred employees in the past 18 months. Let's see how strong, exactly, the force will be with this one," van Dreunen said.

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Latest comments (6)

Mike Wuetherick Lead Designer, Super Mega Awesome Games2 years ago
simple solution: ditch origin (or whatever EA is calling it these days). No one wants to use anything but Steam for digital games, EA can fight it all they want but the reality will set in eventually.
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Farhang Namdar Lead Game Designer Larian Studios 2 years ago
Reality is coughing up 33% of your projected 800 mil revenue to steam. You could argue that they might sell more units on steam, but a third is a lot to spend on a games portal when you're an established brand and publisher. Losing that cash or building your own portal? I would build my own and shove it down the users throat :)

Another option is to make a deal with steam, instead of a third maybe a tenth, but that would be very dishonest on behalf of steam. And I don't think they would do that, they're nice and treat most developers equally as far as I can tell. On the other hand, the Irish and Dutch government gladly make tax deals with big corporations to get a piece of the pie and maximize their profit. So who knows maybe Ubi and EA might come back to steam if the percentage was negotiable.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 2 years ago
Well, you'd only have to sell a fraction more units to make the cut to Valve back... It's very hard to say whether they would, but I don't think the importance of Steam for multiplayer titles can be overstated. Steam is almost the very definition of long-tail sales on PC, which for multiplayer games is so important.

I definitely wouldn't expect Valve to offer EA a lower cut, considering so many benefits of Steamworks are free. In fact, weirdly, EA could sell many games with Steamworks, but not pay-out Valve's cut. They could simply sell Steam-redeemable keys, but not sell on Steam itself (since the cut is for store sales only). Though, that kind of defeats the purpose, since it's the high-visibility and features like Free Weekends on Steam that help to sell games long-past the initial release-window.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 2nd October 2015 9:47am

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Mats Holm Technical Writer, Electronic Arts2 years ago
I always find it funny how people think that Steam is what EA needs for its core franchises. Most people seem to forget that Minecraft, WoW (and Hearthstone), League of Legends nor Star Craft is on Steam, and don't seem to suffer from it.

Since putting the game on Steam would cut 30% of the profits away, and it requires additional development cost for the core game and the DLC, converting all EA games to Steam would require an additional 40-50% more sales to make sense.
Looking at sales numbers on top games on Steam, this would not happen.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 2 years ago
I always find it funny how people think that Steam is what EA needs for its core franchises. Most people seem to forget that Minecraft, WoW (and Hearthstone), League of Legends nor Star Craft is on Steam, and don't seem to suffer from it.
To me, EA doesn't have any one franchise on PC that has the amount of sway of any of those titles. The closest would be... Mass Effect or DA? But even then, not all titles could be seen in the same light... Mirror's Edge: Catalyst, for example, might be fantastic, but I wouldn't class it as being a brand-name enough for it to not be released on Steam. I can certainly see it selling less if it's not on Steam than if it were.

Also, I don't think we should underestimate the recalcitrance of consumers... EA games were on Steam, and then they weren't. WoW, Hearthstone, Minecraft, Starcraft have never been on Steam, and LoL was on there for a matter of days before being taken off. As consumers, we know it's just EA being obstinate. :)
Since putting the game on Steam would cut 30% of the profits away, and it requires additional development cost for the core game and the DLC, converting all EA games to Steam would require an additional 40-50% more sales to make sense.
I'm confused... Did Mass Effect 2 require special dev time/cost? Or Dragon Age: Origins? Or DA 2? Or The Sims 3? The core games are on Steam and DLC bought outside of Steam works fine on them. EA don't need to take advantage of Steamworks - they could just chuck the files on Steam. Even including the Origin installer and integration, since external installers are fine on Steam nowadays (see also: Uplay).

I mean, yeah, if you want to take advantage of Steamworks, then re-writing the code for matchmaking or Achievements is extra work, but it's surprising how often it's done - Star Wars: KOTOR 2, for instance. On the flip-side, it's surprising how often the GOG version of something is added on Steam. Though I'm not a Steamworks Dev, that appears to be part of the beauty of Steam - so easy to just upload whatever build you have of your game, and let it run. :)

(So many typos, so many edits. :( )

Edited 6 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 2nd October 2015 11:30am

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George Williams Owner 2 years ago
And you forget Mats that none of those games you quoted force you to install a DRM client such as Steam or Origin - they are stand alone clients.

Blizzard does now have Battle Net installer but didn't prior in addition, Blizzard never sold their games on Steam, therefore had no product to remove from Steam.

Personally, I haven't touched Battlefield since it moved to Origin and I doubt I will purchase Battlefront for the same reason. Origin is no Steam.
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