There may not be a company that had a tougher year than Electronic Arts did in 2017. Does that mean the firm might be on the block? Reports began surfacing on Monday afternooon that EA might be up for sale and the company that might buy them is Microsoft.
The deal makes quite a bit of sense for both entities, which probably means it’s not going to go through. For Microsoft, it would allow them a studio that could put together quite a few Xbox only games. For EA, it would mean that they are teaming up with one of the titans of the video game world. They might also be able to repair some of the problems we’ve seen in the last few years if there was another set of eyes looking at the products EA is pushing out there and telling someone they need to be rethought.
The two firms are a couple of the biggest in the video game world. As Polygon points out, Microsoft could likely make the purchase of EA without making much of a dent into their profits. The firm that has just launched the Xbox One X is valued at somewhere in the neighborhood of $130 billion. EA, on the flipside carries a value of about $35 billion.
Those are big dollar values being through around, but in what is becoming very big video game business, it appears as though EA could be had by Microsoft for chump change. It should be pointed out that rumors about takeovers like this are almost always going strong this time of year. There are some rumblings that have made this set of rumors seem to have a bit more traction underneath them. When you’re talking about Microsoft’s cash and EA’s PR problems, a sale could indeed be on the horizon.
If you haven’t been hiding under a rock for the last month then you’ll surely know how much trouble EA seems to have gotten into with the problems that loot boxes have given the company. EA’s most prominent title of 2017, Battlefront 2, was so riddled with microtransaction problems that there was an internet-wide revolt against the title, plummetting EA’s stock prices as a result. Many have weighed in to argue that loot boxes are just an extension of gambling and as such should be regulated or eliminated. It looks like New Zealand’s government may not agree.
New Zealand’s prominent regulation group, the Gambling Compliance Department, weighed in on loot boxes and came to a surprising decision. The group made a comment to Gamasutra earlier this week saying, “The Department is of the view that loot boxes do not meet the legal definition of gambling.” Department head Trish Millward admitted that loot boxes do appear to be a form of gambling, because you are paying money for the ‘chance of improvement’, but that the legal definition is vaguer Millward went on to say that her department would continue to monitor loot boxes in case things change in the future.
Right now the problem of loot boxes in gaming reaches far and wide and players seem to be close to giving up on them altogether. Unfortunately, a smaller percentage of gamers is more than willing to pay for the chance to be better than their opposition. This means that money is continuing to flow in and thus gaming companies have no reason to go away from the lucrative concept.
EA. reacted to internet-boycotts by saying that they would re-evaluate how the company approaches items held in loot boxes. Previously, gamers could obtain items that severely increased their ability to win in matches. Now, EA is considering using more aesthetic items that improve your cosmetics rather than your actual ability while playing the game. The question is, will EA follow through?
There has been a bad power-creep over the years relating to the increase in price and reduction in ‘finished product’ quality regarding the video game industry. This has largely been due to the rise of DLC and the prominence of ‘pay to win’ style schemes. EA has been one of the most notable offenders and they’ve come under particular scrutiny for their work on the ‘Star Wars: Battlefront II’ beta release. The problem, fans argued, was that EA was putting too much emphasis on the Loot Crate concept and it was turning off fans who didn’t want to effectively pay for a game every time that they played it. EA finally went public, addressing those concerns.
It was EA CEO Andrew Wilson that took to the public forum in order to comment on the rise of loot crates, paying to win, and how fans are reacting to the concepts. Wilson said in a conference call, “We are engaged in that conversation, engaging with our player son a daily basis as we think about that.” Wilson’s words weren’t particularly strong and they definitely won’t tide the anger that has been building up in the hearts, and wallets, of gamers around the globe. Wilson went on to highlight the ‘Star Wars: Battlefront’ sequel as an example of how they are engaging in more fair practice with consumers. He pointed out that all DLC in ‘Battlefront II’ will be released for free instead of hiding behind a ‘season pass’ style offering.
EA has consistently come out to say the right things regarding the problem surrounding pay to win gaming. Their goal, ostensibly and according to Wilson, is to create “Balance and fairness inside of gameplay”. Whether this is lip-service or a genuine gesture remains to be seen, but you can rest assured that gamers will be paying close attention.
One of the most exciting things for gamers everywhere is E3. And EA, one of the biggest companies at E3 has released their lineup for the annual conference. There have been some exciting titles announced.
Star Wars Battlefront 2 – Battlefront returns, this time with some of the newest characters in the Star Wars franchise. This time around there’s Rey, Darth Maul, and classics like Boba Fett and Luke Skywalker.
Madden 18 – Longshot – The Madden franchise is well known, to say the least. And this newest addition will add even more to that legacy. This time, instead of just a football game, it will be story driven and cinematic.
FIFA 18 – Play your favorite teams as you vie for the glory of a World Cup title. FIFA is well known as the best soccer game franchise. There is also a career mode, where you can follow a single player as he goes through his career.
Need for Speed Payback – Need for Speed is one of the best known, and most loved racing franchises. The games are on point, and beautiful, and this newest edition will be no different. From the exotic cars to the hot rods, the vehicles are as beautiful as they are impressive.
Anthem – A completely new game from BioWare, Anthem looks impressive. Do your best to survive in a post-apocalyptic world with your mech. It certainly looks to be an impressive new adventure.
A Way Out – A new indie game, with three modes, split-screen, co-op, or online. It looks to be a very unique experience as you view the narratives of two different characters side-by-side. Freedom is the goal of this game, and you may have to do some not so pleasant things to get it.
Electronic Arts was among the first companies to present its future offerings to fans and investors at this year’s E3. Here are some of the highlights from its presentation:
- “Star Wars Battlefront II” will feature Rey, Darth Maul, Boba Fett, Luke Skywalker and other characters from both trilogies and the Disney-era films. The game will also feature a story mode that tells the story of an as-yet-unnamed female soldier affiliated with the villainous First Order; this character’s motivation will be a quest for revenge against the Resistance for its actions against the Empire.
- “Madden 18” features a “Longshot” mode that will add a new, cinematic approach to football, complete with full motion capture technology. This game will use the Frostbite game engine that has been seen in titles like “Dragon Age: Inquisition” and “Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare.”
- “FIFA 18” gains a single-player story mode that has players controlling the career of Alexander, a rookie player with aspirations of making it into one of the world’s greatest soccer clubs.
- The “Need for Speed” franchise gains another installment in Need for Speed: Payback. A preview of the title’s gameplay focused on a pair of car thieves in the American southwest. The video highlighted the pair’s attempts to carjack a supercar being transported by a diesel truck and proceeded to emphasize the level of detail put into the destruction of various vehicles, culminating in the implication that criminal driving will be pursued not only by rival criminal games but also by aircraft. Need for Speed: Payback is set for a November release.
- As an original IP instead of a sequel, “Anthem” seems to be a rarity among Electronic Arts. EA’s presentation of this new “Bioware” title revealed a futuristic post-apocalypse filled with mechanical exosuits and a civilization struggling to make it through each day within sprawling walled cities of metal. Much like Madden 18, Anthem will utilize the Frostbite engine.