A class action lawsuit levied against Electronic Arts for allegedly misleading investors over the performance of Battlefield 4 was dismissed this week, with U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California Judge Susan Illston labeling the publisher's promises as pre-release "puffery," rather than intentionally misleading hype.
The lawsuit was filed late last year, accusing Electronic Arts of misrepresenting "the development and sales of the Company's Battlefield 4 video game and the game's impact on EA's revenue and projects moving forward." Battlefield 4 suffered numerous issues upon its launch in November, leaving many players unable to access its online multiplayer component. Fixes arrived months after the game's initial release, leading EA CEO Andrew Wilson to later describe the debacle as "unacceptable."
EA argued that its pre-release statements had no direct bearing on the plaintiffs' decisions to purchase company stock. In addition, the publisher noted that five of the eight company-issued statements labeled as misleading in the suit were made after plaintiffs had already purchased EA stock.
"Defendant [CFO Blake] Jorgensen's Oct. 29, 2013 statement comparing 'BF4' to a World Series ace pitcher is puffery," Judge Illston wrote. "Defendant Wilson's Oct. 29, 2013 statement explaining that EA 'worked more closely with Microsoft and Sony throughout the entire process' resulting in a 'launch slate of games that are the best transition games that I've ever seen come out of this company' is an inactionable opinion, as well as a vague statement of corporate optimism."
Illston's response does not represent a total dismissal of the case. Lead plaintiffs Ryan Kelly and Louis Mastro must revise their statements by November 3 to continue the suit.