Despite the launch of the great battle royale shooter Apex Legends, EA have had a pretty terrible week. After reporting their earnings for the previous financial quarter in a recent shareholder conference, which were apparently disappointing across the board, their stock plummeted 13.3% - the steepest single-day decline since 2008 - netting them a reported loss of $3.7 billion.
Explaining why their performance came in under projections, EA discussed their new plan for Madden not appealing as broadly as they would have hoped, but one of the main culprits seemed to have been Battlefield V. At launch back in November there were reports that sales were down, but now we know that the publisher expected to sell over 8 million copies within the quarter, of which it only managed 7.3 million.
What's more interesting, though, are the reasons EA gave for this underperformance. Taking aim at the game's story, CFO Blake Jorgensen explained that the developer's focus shouldn't have been on the single-player portion of the experience, but rather the battle royale mode, Firestorm, which had to be delayed until March 2019. The lack of this mode, which in part made Call of Duty: Black Ops IV such a massive success, is apparently being viewed as Battlefield V's biggest problem.
This was bandied around along with other excuses, including a "poor start" for the marketing campaign and a competitive Fall window, but it's clear that the publisher still believe single-player is actively harming their revenue stream. It's interesting that EA would put the blame on these elements, rather than acknowledge the pushback the game received from its initial trailers, or the way the game has been supported post-launch, with DICE making controversial changes to entice new players, only to go back on them a few weeks later when they didn't sit right with the hardcore.
It doesn't really matter why BF V actually disappointed, though, what matters is EA still very much thinks single-player is an unimportant element of its games. That's perhaps to be expected after the cancellation of Visceral's single-player Star Wars game, and shifting their story-driven developers in Bioware over to a live-service shooter in Anthem, but it still brings into question how long the publisher will continue to include a solo modes in their titles.