Other games benefit as EA game preorders drop at Flipkart

EA’s decision to hike prices of its upcoming games in India has led to lower than expected preorders at Flipkart, while preorders for other games have risen as a result, the online retailer has revealed.

AAA games like Grand Theft Auto V, the latest Batman [Arkham Origins], Assassin’s Creed IV, Watch Dogs and Splinter Cell [Blacklist], which are priced about Rs 500 lower on consoles and Rs 2,000 on PC, have taken the top places on all the platforms now, which were traditionally reserved for FIFA, Need for Speed, Battlefield and Call of Duty,” said Nipun Mehra, senior director of retail at Flipkart, India’s largest game retailer.

EA recently announced that it will release FIFA 14 at Rs 2,499 on PC and Rs 3,499 on consoles, while Battlefield 4 and Need for Speed: Rivals will launch at Rs 3,499 on consoles and PC. On PC, these are hikes of up to 133% over last year’s prices.

The customer interest level in these AAA franchises is still high, but the final sale is happening for a GTA, Batman or AC IV,” he told MCV, adding, We are still at a very early stage to comment here, but we do expect the shift of about 20%-25% of customers to other franchises (or catalog games) in the first year itself.”

Batman: Arkham Origins, Watch Dogs, Assassin’s Creed IV and Splinter Cell: Blacklist have all been priced at Rs 1,499, and Mehra believes that, based on past trends, that is the ideal price point for new, triple-A PC game releases in India. It is becoming increasingly difficult to sell PC games priced higher than Rs 2,499 above a certain number,” Mehra said.

The retailer expects sales on EA’s games to drop even more post-release. The major shift is expected post-release, when a non-loyalist would be able to choose between AC IV and Watch Dogs priced at Rs 1,499 versus Battlefield 4 and COD priced significantly higher,” Mehra said, singling out Need for Speed: Rivals as the game that will suffer the most as a result of higher pricing.

Deepak Khurana of Nextworld echoed that sentiment. Need for Speed: Rivals will not sell even 1/10th [of previous sales]. Other titles should do around 1/3rd of the business. It is downright stupid to price NFS at Rs 3,499 and FIFA 14 at Rs 2,499 [on PC].”

EA’s decision to hike prices drew a strong response from gamers, who took to Twitter and Facebook with the #EAPCIndia campaign to voice their opinions on the matter. EA’s reluctance to address the issue probably means that it intends to stick to its guns, but Mehra hopes that EA will now drop prices quicker post-release.

We are now working very closely with our distribution partners for more frequent price drops in the life-cycle of PC games so that we are able to satisfy the price-sensitive customer base as well. We have also introduced pre-order price guarantee on a large selection of pre-order games to make sure that customers who contribute initially don’t suffer later,” Mehra said.

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