Battlefield V may end up being a casualty of October's big rush of games, says Cowen & Company analyst Doug Creutz.
EA may have another Titanfall 2 situation on its hands--at least if one analyst's forecasts are accurate. According to games industry analyst Doug Creutz, Battlefield V has alarmingly low pre-orders compared to other October juggernauts like Black Ops 4 and Red Dead Redemption 2. "EA's Battlefield V currently appears to potentially be headed for serious disappointment," Mr. Creutz said in a message to investors, pointing to weak pre-sales of the game. "If we had to pick one game to be a casualty of the crowded October window, this would clearly be it."
But just how bad are Battlefield V's pre-orders? The firm notes BFV is about 85% behind its other major October competitors. Low pre-orders could affect overall sales of the game, the report suggests, making EA miss its ~14 million unit sales goal. "With a release date directly in between CoD and RDR, we worry that BFV could be headed for a similar fate as 2016's Titanfall 2, which got squeezed out by its launch date directly between Battlefield 1 and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare," Mr. Creutz said.
There appears to be one problem with Cowen & Company's pre-order tracking, however.
GamesBeat writer Jeffrey Grub notes that Cowen's tracking model is based off of Amazon pre-order data, but Battlefield V currently isn't available for physical pre-order on the platform. This is likely skewing the firm's data.
Furthermore, analyst firm Piper Jaffray predicts that Battlefield V will actually out-sell Red Dead Redemption 2 and serve as second-best to Black Ops 4.
Here's a tidbit of what I wrote in my previous coverage of Piper Jaffray's forecasts:
Insofar as raw game sales, the firm predicts Black Ops 4 will take the mantle with about 21.5 million in projected sales, beating out EA's shooter competitor Battlefield V by about 5 million copies and Rockstar's huge Red Dead Redemption 2 by 6 million sales.
NPD Group analyst Mat Piscatella also commented that pre-orders don't always directly affect a game's long-running sales.
"Pre-orders are less predictive than they've ever been towards determining ultimate consumer sales, and the measure continues to decline in significance," Mr. Piscatella said on Twitter.
Last but not least, let's remember that EA isn't totally concerned about raw game sales any more. The company thrives on live services that make billions every year through continued engagement, and make no mistake, Battlefield V is primed and ready to tap this business model.
EA CFO Blake Jorgensen also affirmed that unit sales aren't as important as continued revenue via live services:
"We give out unit forecasts at the beginning of the year to help people size things. But we're finding units are becoming less and less meaningful to us because obviously there's a difference between a digital unit and a physical unit--and we've been surprised on the growth of digital units. It's all about the live services at the end of the day as well," Mr. Jorgensen said during EA's past fiscal earnings call.
All three October giants will be monetized with live services in some way; Black Ops 4 will have optional in-game vanity items, ditto for Battlefield V, and Red Dead Redemption 2 will have an online mode that's likely to be monetized similarly as GTA Online, however Rockstar Games has yet to reveal official details.