[NM] Electronic Arts Gives Wrong Numbers On Battlefront II Sales, A Lot of Websites Haven’t Corrected It

Electronic Arts released their third quarter results for the 2018 fiscal year this week, noting increased revenues to $1.16 billion compared to $1.14 billion last year with higher operating expenses. Sales were driven primarily by live games including the various Ultimate Team systems and The Sims 4, with little doubt to the notion that last November’s Star Wars: Battlefront II under performed according to EA’s expectations.

What is in dispute, surprisingly, is how much the game under performed and just how many units the game sold, and the reason behind this confusion appears to be EA’s own error. According to Wall Street Journal’s tech reporter Sarah Needleman, EA confirmed in a statement under an embargo that Battlefront II had shipped over nine million units, about a million shorter than they had anticipated.

In actuality, and according to EA’s own released prepared remarks, the game was expected to sell about eight million and fell short of that by less than one million. So EA’s own reports were upwards of two million less than what they had incorrectly stated.

For Q3, we had expected to sell in about 8 million units, but we fell short of that by less than 1 million units. However, this shortfall was significantly offset by an excellent performance from our live services. The impact of FX was immaterial on the quarter.

Needleman has acknowledged on Twitter that the numbers she was given were incorrect with the earnings call not releasing until hours after the embargo lifted. Evidently nobody informed the rest of the reporters that this information was incorrect, since as of midnight on January 31, MMO Fallout had perused at least a dozen major gaming/tech websites that had covered the story, and not a single one had followed up with a correction.

Understandable, since virtually all of the articles seem to merely copy and paste either information from Polygon.com’s coverage or directly from Needleman’s initial tweet. In fact, the only major news website that reported on this and managed to get it right appears to be VG247 who actually read the prepared remarks and highlighted the discrepancy with the WSJ’s numbers. At least one of the outlets we read actually linked to the prepared statement and even claimed that the report stated the 9 million figure, which suggests the author did not even read the document that they quoted.

Calling malice seems to be a long shot, it looks like the Wall Street Journal was sent incorrect information and while the While Street Journal corrected their story, none of the outlets that sourced the Tweet did any fact checking of their own or took the time to read EA’s following prepared statement.

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