The end of 2017 saw a backlash against the inclusion of loot box systems in video games. Electronic Arts’ Star Wars Battlefront 2 is the game that brought mass attention to the controversial form of monetization after a significant public outcry led to governments around the world assessing the nature of the system. It seems that after this controversy EA has decided to approach monetization within their games somewhat differently. This idea comes after the publisher’s CFO made some interesting comments about Bioware’s much-anticipated upcoming title, Anthem.
Earlier this week, EA held a quarterly financial briefing in which CFO Blake Jorgensen was asked a few questions about Anthem. While discussing the publisher’s projected sales expectations for the game, Jorgensen made a comment in which it was suggested that the game will only be receiving other monetizable additions sometime after launch.
In brief, Jorgensen initially stated that as the title is a new IP, the publisher would be maintaining conservative expectations for its performance, particularly as the game will also be released in the last month of the financial year. The executive later added that, while EA is not sure how the game’s release will impact the current financial year, the publisher is sure that it will perform well overall, stating, “we're careful not to put too large of a forecast in there, and clearly [Anthem] will impact this year as well as next year as we not only continue to sell more into the next year but as we start rolling out the live services associated with that game.”
Although it is currently unclear as to when exactly EA plans to add monetization elements to Anthem, the publisher is definitely discussing how the game’s overall profitability can be increased. A few months ago, Anthem creative director Brenon Holmes stated as much when he commented on a Reddit thread discussing the potential implementation of a loot box system in the game. Holmes went on to confirm that the loot box system was one of the methods being considered.
However, since this time, there have many different developments with regards to the loot box controversy, with some countries declaring the popular monetization system a clear form of gambling and banning it. It will be interesting to see how EA approaches monetizing Anthem as the publisher will definitely want to see a repeat of the Star Wars Battlefront 2 response. At this point, it does seem unlikely that the game will include loot boxes, though.
Anthem is set to be released in early 2019 for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.