EA Loses $3B in Stock Value, Analyst Calls for Loot Box Self Regulation

Investors seem unhappy with EA's handling of Star Wars microtransactions

Electronic Arts stock is down 8 .5 percent to date, shedding $3.1 billion in value, in the wake of the Star Wars: Battlefront II microtransaction shake-up, CNBC reports. And at least one analyst is adding his voice to the call for industry self-regulation surrounding the issue.

CNBC notes that this slide in value started shortly after EA released its December quarter sales on October 31st, when the company said its sales might be lower than suspects. Some believe that was due to Battlefront II. Shares for EA fell four percent the following day.

Star Wars: Battlefront II hit stores on November 17th as a full-priced retail game. It was originally set to have a microtransaction system that asked players to invest extra time or money to unlock major playable heroes. The outcry, which resulted in the most downvoted comment (by EA) in the history of Reddit, led the company to temporarily pull the microtransaction system on the eve of the game's launch. It remains unclear what form those transactions will take when they return to the game. It also led to comments from both LucasFilm and Disney, seemingly condemning EA’s approach to microtransactions in the game.

The use of microtransactions also drew the attention of U.S. and European lawmakers. The key question was whether the game’s use of loot boxes should be considered gambling.

Belgium's gambling authority say it is gambling. U.K.'s gambling authority say it isn't gambling. China and Japan already regulate loot boxes as a form of gambling and Australia considers them gambling.

The United States still hasn't really decided either way, though that could change soon. Last week, Hawaiian state officials raised concerns about loot boxes in Battlefront II and passed the game and its practices on to the state attorney general for an official, legal opinion. The Entertainment Software Association has said they don't view it as gambling.

While Electronic Arts hasn't replied to numerous inquiries for comment, the company's chief financial said earlier this week that the company decided to include microtransactions involving characters, rather than simply cosmetic items, because it wanted to stay true to canon and Star Wars realism for the game.