A huge number of 2017’s games featured prominent microtransactions. NBA 2K18, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, Forza Motorsport 7, and, of course, Star Wars Battlefront II are just a few of the worst offenders. However, industry analysts have offered one spot of hope: Microtransactions may be much less prominent in 2018.
Analyst Doug Creutz from invest banking firm Cowen pointed out that even the largest gaming companies don’t have a monopoly on the business of games. If gamers want to spend their money and gaming time elsewhere, they have plenty of other options—so, he believes, game companies will have to change their policies to adapt to what players want.
“Game development times are getting longer, and R&D costs are growing faster than they had previously,” Creutz wrote in a note to his clients (via CNBC). “This isn’t a monopoly business… Angering your customer with bad MTX [microtransactions] does matter.”
Creutz specifically called out Star Wars Battlefront II and Destiny 2 as some of the worst offenders. By his estimate, the backlash against Star Wars Battlefront II cost the company anywhere between 3 and 4 million sales, and he noted that the player base of Destiny 2 has been in steady decline.
“[Star Wars Battlefront II] has pretty clearly significantly underperformed expectations and remains without a live services revenue stream, while Destiny 2 has at the least suffered some unwanted engagement attrition,” Creutz said. “We suspect that 2018 will see a pullback on industry attempts aggressively drive MTX growth as a result.”
“It’s not just that gamers are angry and complaining,” he added. “There have clearly been performance consequences for the games involved. And in an industry where every company is dependent upon a relatively small number of franchises, this matters.”
If players continue to make their voices heard in the stand against microtransactions, then we could very well see changes, both because profits and user engagement drops off from games, and possibly by the microtransaction market itself becoming more regulated. Some Hawaiian lawmakers, at the very least, have plans to make the latter scenario a reality.
As of right now, EA has still not reimplemented microtransactions in Star Wars Battlefront II.