EA has admitted that Battlefield 2042 “did not meet expectations” and its sales were “disappointing.”
Two weeks ago, freelance journalist and noted EA leaker Tom Henderson claimed that EA was considering making Battlefield 2042’s Portal Mode free-to-play amid poor sales, which he proposed was a sign that EA considered the game a flop.
Despite this, one financial analyst who spoke to Henderson said they expected EA to “beat around the bush” over Battlefield 2042 during their then-upcoming February 1st financial call, speculating that the developer would claim that while they were disappointed in the game’s launch, they had faith in its live service model – a retread of the same rhetoric deployed when Battlefield V under-performed.
That very earnings call (as transcribed by SeekingAlpha) has since vindicated Henderson, as during its presentation, the leaker noted that “There’s no mention of #Battlefield2042 in their earnings slides.”
The slide instead focused on the company’s “engagement highlights,” such as how many pings were placed in Apex Legends or hours of the The Sims series were played.
Despite opening the call by asserting that EA not only had “a year of outstanding growth so far in FY 2022,” but that Q3 was a record quarter, with our live services and mobile portfolio delivering strong recurring revenue and year-over-year growth,” EA Chief Executive Officer Andrew Wilson later admitted, “we did have a challenge in Q3 as the launch of Battlefield 2042 did not meet expectations.”
“Battlefield 2042 was always an ambitious game and our teams pushed to innovate across many dimensions including massive scale and 128-player matches, new modes, new dynamic gameplay and more,” he explained. “Developing this game with our teams working from home for nearly two years ultimately proved to be challenging.”
He continued, “through our processes for testing and preparation, we believed the experience was ready to be put into our players’ hands,” before relenting, “we launched with strong stability, however, as more players experienced the full game, it became clear that we are up and — unanticipated performance issues that we would need to address.”
“Some of the design choices we made with the game also did not resonate with everyone in our community,” he added. “We are fully committed to realizing the full potential of this game and fully committed to our Battlefield fans. We have already implemented a series of major updates to the game, and there is more to be done.”
To that end, Wilson then announced that not only could players “expect meaningful updates to continue in the weeks ahead”, but that the development team “are shifting the first season of live service content to early summer as we work closely with our community to evolve and improve the core experience in Battlefield 2042.”
“Despite Battlefield’s miss against our expectations, with the strength of our business we are continuing to deliver record growth and performance in FY 2022,” Wilson told investors, further noting that the game’s performance to-date had led them to “[adjust] our full fiscal year net bookings guidance to $7.525 billion, which remains $225 million above our original net bookings guidance for FY 2022.”
Despite EA’s expectations of strong growth in FY 2023, Chief Financial Officer Blake Jorgensen later reiterated that “sales of Battlefield 2042 were disappointing,” but informed listeners that this stumble was “offset by a strong showing from FIFA and continued strength from Apex and our other franchises.”
“We’re committed to turning Battlefield around and building a sustainable live service, even if some of the actions we’re taking, like moving the first Season into FY 2023, impact net bookings in the short-term,” Jorgensen further reassured. “As originally forecast, the Battlefield franchise would have accounted for significantly less than 10% of this year’s net bookings and well below 5% of next year’s. We’re revising those numbers, but you can see it has little impact on FY 2023 growth.”
During the Q&A segment of the call, Benchmark Senior Equity Analyst Mike Hickey asked Jorgensen, “Can you give us — can you size the units you sold in the quarter? I think you’ve guided for 12 or so, but just sort of curious where you ended up versus expectations?,”
“There’s been some ideas around beta play, curious about the possibility?” he further inquired. “And then I didn’t hear mobile, have you got mobile for Battlefield or is that just delayed? Thanks.”
After some banter over their prior history, Blake somewhat evaded the question, one again stating, “Battlefield is less than 10% of our revenue. We sold less units than we thought we would.”
“But what I would say is that, remember these [Technical Difficulty] and so our goal is to add new excitement to stretch this out,” He elaborated. “And in some ways, we hoped it benefits FY 2023 since we’ve had a pretty strong FY 2022 and so it helps us in the future.”
Having the spotlight thrown to him by Jorgensen for the “second part” of Hickey’s question, Wilson returned to the topic of fixing Battlefield 2042’s core experience.
“As I hate to admit it, DICE’s the studio that has been able to do this a number of times now and really go back and rebuild at the core and reengage the community, as long as we do that in conjunction with a committee,” he said. “That’s what that studio was so great at doing.”
After confirming they were “still developing” a mobile title, that it looked “really strong”, and that it would enter closed beta at the end of next month, Wilson touched on the topic of “free-to-play and other modes of play,” promising that the developer had “a big bold vision for this franchise.”
“This franchise since its inception has been a leader in creativity and innovation was how it’s played and how it’s delivered,” he said. “You should expect that we will continue to work to deliver new and interesting ways to engage with this game over the course of time. And while I’m disappointed with how it launched, I’m still very excited for the future.”
Though it faced wide complaints over it not feeling like a Battlefield title and unexplainedly lacking features from prior games, Battlefield 2042 garnered the most criticm for launching with numerous bugs and glitches, some of which have rendered the game unplayable for many.
70% of Steam players dropped the game two weeks after launch, and the service even began offering refunds outside of their regular window, as some spent this grace period stuck in the game’s options menu trying to make it work.
Following the presentation’s conclusion, Henderson tweeted, “It’s nice to see EA admit Battlefield 2042 was a launch failure though. They addressed this internally, over 2 months ago.”
“EA’s quarterly revenue is thanked due to Apex Legends and FIFA,” he added to his continuing commentary. “No mention of Battlefield 2042 sales, which is something they generally report on after release.”
Pointing specifically to Jorgensen’s assertion that “the Battlefield franchise would have accounted for significantly less than 10% of this year’s net bookings and well below 5% of next year’s,” Henderson recalled, “An Analyst told me 2 weeks ago that EA doesn’t look at Battlefield as crucial to the companies success. Looks like he was right.”
However, Henderson was ultimately concerned that the statements made by EA showed a lack of faith in the series’ future, proposing, “EA saying Battlefield will be less than 5% of their net bookings next year just proves they don’t have any long-term plans for #Battlefield2042.
“I would have expected a higher net booking prediction if they planned for a BR or something,” he concluded.
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