EA: BF3 Premium “Largely Off-sets” Poor SWTOR Performance


Game Front took a step into the spin zone today during Electronic Art’s Q1 2013 Investor Call. Earlier in the day, the news had hit: Star Wars: The Old Republic is going free-to-play. CEO John Riccitiello, EA Labels head Frank Gibeau, and other EA bigwigs spent parts of the call in damage control mode, trying to reassure investors that the bad news about the publisher’s expensive WOW-killer was mitigated by other positive signs.

In particular, they pointed to the strong performance of the Battlefield 3 Premium service, which was launched earlier this summer. For Premium customers, $50 provides access to all five of the game’s DLC packs; the last, “End Game,” is scheduled for release this winter.

BF3 Premium has been a hot seller since it was introduced, generating $37 million in sales and over a million downloads in just two months. This is big money, to be sure, but is it enough success to support EA’s claim, repeated more than once during the investor call, that “strength on Battlefield largely off-sets Star Wars?”

This may or may not be true from a financial standpoint; it’s a matter of weighing SWTOR’s lost subscription revenue against the amount that BF3 Premium exceed EA’s expectations — two figures the megalithic publisher is unlikely to cough up. Nevertheless, the big-budget MMO’s spiraling subscription numbers raise questions about the overall viability of the product and its business model. Microtransactions are sure to recoup some of missing subscription cash, but SWTOR’s quick stagnation represents a pricey risk that hasn’t paid off for EA, and it’s a mistake investors and executives will remember. This is bad news for developers BioWare, who could bear the brunt of the disappointment emanating from both groups.

The contrast between EA’s prepared remarks during their Q4 2011 and Q1 2013 — between stolid optimism and rueful pragmatism — could not be more stark:

Interim CFO Ken Barker, 5/7/2012:

“We delivered an extraordinary launch of a solidly profitable long-term franchise…We expect this title will further expand our margins in fiscal 13 as we get the full year benefit of subscription revenue…the current number of active subscribers, 1.3 million, is very consistent with the original assumptions we made when we acquired BioWare in 2008….while this franchise is very profitable, it only represents a mid-single digit percent of our total profitability in fiscal 13.”

EA Labels Head Frank Gibeau, 7/31/2012:

“Although it launched well, subscriptions have been on a declining trajectory and have now slipped below one million. Last year we announced that the breakeven point was roughly 500,000 subscribers. And while we are well above that today, that’s not good enough. The message from players exiting the game is clear – 40 percent say they were turned off by the monthly subscription. And many indicated they would come back if we offered a free-to-play model.”

What a difference three months makes!

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3 Comments on EA: BF3 Premium “Largely Off-sets” Poor SWTOR Performance


On August 1, 2012 at 1:36 am

I hope Bioware will quit EA so they can make an incredible Mass Effect 4 with no restriction. EA tainted too many great franchises or promising developers.

Mass Effect 3 is a good game and with the extended cuts its endings are now potable but without EA Mass Effect 3 could have been something much more and the Reapers would have been surely what we wanted them to be, complete indepedent nations entity like Sovereign said in the first game.

Mass Effect 1 was a masterpiece of a new genre, the first of its kind and have minor flaws. It was pure art.

Mass Effect 2 was a pretty well done sequel with an improved conversation systems but lacked some elements who have made the original unique.

Mass Effect 3 possessed the potential to surpass the first and second ones but tossed apart the strenght of the story in favor of implanting a more action oriented gameplay and a useless online mode. The final product contained a weakened plot and a butchered ending. The extended cuts polished some of the errors of the plots and endings rending the final product more enjoyable but still have the feeling of something could have been done better. Why no last boss fight? The zombie illusive man would have been epic, a more powerfull Saren! Why the Catalyst can’t be just what he pretended to be, the collective consciousness of all the reapers and not just a simple AI living in the citadel? What was so wrong about the dark energy scrapped plot? Why they can’t have done a half-naked Tali at our side like Ashley or Liara during the final love scene when we romanced her?

It was just to let you know what was my feeling about the Mass Effect series. Many of you know me as a irritating troll. Dont get me wrong i still love Mass Effect 3 as a good action-rpg game and i loved the extended cuts for what it is but even me would have wanted a more stronger Mass Effect 3 instead of a Gears of War clone with RPG elements. I still accept how the series end even with the Mass Effect 3 we got but like you all i think Mass Effect 3 could have been much more.

Sorry for the irritating manner i demonstrated after the release of the Extended cuts. I should have used more mature and less hostile arguments instead of trolling everyone here.

Here the fact about me, i’m not done with the Mass Effect series and i’m still eager to see new instalments in this franchise i would have prefered like you all a better Mass Effect 3 to end my Shepards journeys.


On August 1, 2012 at 6:32 am

Unfortunately that could never happen because EA is not just Bioware’s publisher, they own the company. The same is true of DICE. The best alternative is that some of the better designers from each company go off to form their own studio and start over.


On August 1, 2012 at 7:10 am

swtor would of been awesome and people would of still been playing it if they didn’t nerf healers.

they broke the number one rule in mmos lol.