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Analyst: Battlefield 4 issues may mean long-term damage for EA

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Technical issues following the launch of Battlefield 4 and subsequent class action lawsuits could mean long-term damage for publisher Electronic Arts, says investor analysis site The Motley Fool.

The Fool writes that Battlefield 4, which was poised to compete with Activision's Call of Duty: Ghosts, was "a PR nightmare on all fronts," and as a result of the still ongoing technical and online issues with the game, EA has "let a golden opportunity slip between its fingers." Battlefield 4 was largely unplayable at launch and frequently crashed when players tried to search for and join online matches. As of today, developer DICE is still rolling out patches for Battlefield 4 across all platforms, and all future expansions for the title are on hold until the technical issues are resolved.

Additionally, EA has been hit with three lawsuits alleging that EA knew about the problems with Battlefield 4, delivering consumers and press false information regarding its status during development. EA's shares — which were above $28 prior to the shooter's launch — have fallen. At the time of writing, they are currently sitting around $23.90.

"Proving that executives knew of the problems will be difficult, if not impossible" the Fool notes. "Given the scope of the problems, it's likely that someone knew about them, but management may have been detached enough from the process to be unaware of the impending disaster. It is therefore unlikely that this lawsuit amounts to much of anything."

The Fool points out that EA's reputation is once again on the line. The company was voted the worst company in America two years in a row by The Consumerist readers and between SimCity and Battlefield 4, the company had two failed online launches in one year.

"Electronic Arts has proven twice this year that it can't launch a game with a major online component without subjecting gamers to frustrating technical problems," writes The Fool. "SimCity was bad, but the situation with Battlefield 4 is far worse, causing delays of future games and tarnishing the Battlefield brand. Electronic Arts has let a golden opportunity slip away."