Battlefront Beta Draws 9M

SW Battlefront-SOCT. 14, 2015 • Electronic Arts’ DICE studio reports that Star Wars Battlefront reached 9 million people who had signed on and played during the beta of the game that ended this week. Announcing the milestone in a blog post was DICE senior producer Sigurlina Ingvarsdottir. That number is significant since EA chief financial officer Blake Jorgensen said in a fiscal conference call last May that the publisher was expecting worldwide sales on the game to be between 9 million and 10 million units by March 31. The original Star Wars Battlefront was created for LucasArts by Pandemic Studios back in 2004, and was a very successful franchise. DICE’s rebooted Battlefront was one of the most highlighted titles shown at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo. The new game expands on the Star Wars first-person strategic ground combat the franchise is known for, with an optional third-person mode available. The title will release on November 17 in North America, and two days later in Europe.

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Impact: Going into the holidays, Star Wars Battlefront is the multiplatform game to beat. It has substantial buzz, excellent pedigree, and a successful action studio handling production. Electronic Arts being able to deliver a Star Wars blockbuster is critically important for the publisher. The firm secured the exclusive Star Wars license in 2013 as a result of the $4.05 billion buyout of LucasFilm by the Walt Disney Co. in October 2012. By the following April, Disney had decided it no longer wanted LucasArts to be involved with internal development in favor of licensing IP from the franchise. Battlefront is the first post-exclusive AAA opportunity for EA to show what it can do with Star Wars. The Old Republic MMORPG from the publisher’s Bioware team, which did not live up to revenue targets but has done better since shifting to a F2P model three years ago, predates EA’s agreement with Disney. Outside of Battlefront, there have been a slew of Star Wars mobile games, but none of them have generated the awareness or buzz as Battlefront has. So it looks like EA has a winner on its hands. The flip side of that is expectations for the Star Wars content that follows will be raised significantly, which given the spotty performance of past games from the franchise under LucasArts, are not always achievable.