Following a week of gamer backlash and outrage over micro-transactions in EA’s Star Wars: Battlefront II, the publisher temporarily stripped the game of paid loot crates in an effort to appease consumers.
The move was also in response to reported unease from Star Wars IP holder, Disney. By removing micro-transactions, EA hoped to stem the controversy and put the game back in a more positive light before the big holiday shopping season.
But early sales figures may be cause for concern. In the UK, Battlefront II is down 50% over 2016’s Battlefield 1 and down 61% from 2015’s launch of Star Wars: Battlefront according to the UK’s Chart-Track.
That looks bad on its face, but these are physical sales only during the game’s launch week. Digital has grown rapidly in the past couple years. Destiny 2 looked as though it might under-perform until digital sales were added into the mix. At that point it became clear that the sequel handily outsold the original Destiny.
The same could be true for Star Wars: Battlefront II as well. That being said, 50% down in sales of physical units from last year’s Battlefield 1 still seems incredibly low. Certainly between the release of Destiny in 2014 and Destiny 2 in 2017 (a three-year gap) digital sales have grown tremendously. Have they grown so much between now and last October that we can account for a 50% shortfall?
Also worth noting is the fact that Star Wars: Battlefront released in 2015 on a Tuesday, a more traditional release weekday than the second game’s Friday release. This also gave the game several more days to accrue sales. That being said, Battlefield 1 launched on a Friday. At this point, the only thing that’s clear is that we won’t know the answer until we have solid numbers across physical and digital.
For the time being, at least in the UK, this certainly looks like partial fallout to the controversy surrounding its release. While it’s true that most holiday shoppers and the majority of gamers and Star Wars fans likely have little-to-no knowledge of that controversy, it’s entirely possible that bad word-of-mouth has impacted the game’s sales performance.
For now, Call of Duty: World War II retains the top spot in the UK’s weekly sales charts, with Star Wars: Battlefront II sliding into second place.
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