Despite the major backlash Electronic Arts received with the inclusion of pay-to-win microtransactions in Star Wars: Battlefront 2, recent reports indicate that the publisher has raked in over $1 billion strictly from microtransactions. Although EA has included microtransactions in nearly every game it has recently developed and published, console and PC games have not been included in this total. Analysts report that this astronomical number is entirely due to EA’s free-to-play mobile sports titles.
The report comes from Sensor Tower Store Intelligence, which stats that, “Approximately 49 percent of this revenue has come from in-app purchases in the Madden NFL franchise, totaling more than $490 million in estimated player spending.” EA’s latest Madden title, Madden NFL Overdrive Football, grossed about $100 million globally in 2018 alone. FIFA titles have reportedly contributed $360 million to EA, 36 percent of the total sum. The NBA Live Mobile Basketball mobile title earned $140 million (14 percent), while EA Sports UFC earned just over 1 percent of the total.
As for the top-spending countries, gamers in the United States accounted for well over half of the total sum – 62% or about $620 million. While the majority of that was spent on Madden and NBA Live titles, gamers outside of the United States accounted for the majority of the FIFA profits. Japanese players contributed over $57 million, while players in Great Britain spent nearly $54 million. 2018’s most profitable sports mobile title Pro Baseball Spirits A, while not an EA-published game, earned over $150 million in Japan alone.
Interestingly enough, Sensor Tower states that the $1 billion earned is strictly from EA’s mobile sports titles and does not mention any of the publisher’s other mobile titles like Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes, which thrives off pay-to-win microtransactions. The analysts don’t make any mention of EA’s profitability on any of its console or PC titles either. EA is famous for its use of microtransactions in both mobile and console games, so it would be interesting to see the profit margin in games like Madden NFL 19, or even Star Wars since EA brought microtransactions back into Battlefront 2.
Although EA has earned billions in microtransactions throughout the years, it has not come without a price. A large portion of gamers are growing increasingly angry at the publisher because of its constant use of pay-to-win microtransactions, not to mention its lackluster use of the Star Wars IP. Disney could take the Star Wars license from EA soon, but that decision likely depends on how successful Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is.