EA Says They’re All-In on Free-to-Play and Out of Offline Experiences
Before a panel at Fan Expo about the state of the gaming industry (my column on my experience is coming soon), someone said that free-to-play was the future of gaming industry for the foreseeable future. I thought about it and disagree. I think Titanfall eschewing the traditional single-player campaign for multiplayer matches bracketed by some story components is going to be more common going forward.
It turns out that EA COO Peter Moore said that we’re both right. In fact, going forward, Moore says that we’ll see more free-to-play elements in the major franchises while offline experiences will be no more.
In an interview with Engadget, Moore said, “The ability for you to be able to interact with those franchises on a free-to-play basis is going to be part-and-parcel with every major franchise we do now.” Currently, EA has a free-to-play Battlefield game in open beta and will make FIFA 14 free-to-play on mobile platforms.
We’ve already seen free-to-play elements creep into paid EA games with microtransactions invading the likes of Mass Effect 3, Dead Space 3 and some EA Sports franchises. Given the money EA is likely making in the mobile sector with F2P titles like Real Racing 3 and Plants vs. Zombies, you can see how EA sees a future in free-to-play.
However, it’s important to note that Moore’s quote also doesn’t mean that EA is getting out of $60 triple-A game releases. It seems that the EA strategy is to release free-to-play titles to capitalize on the market that won’t pay $60 for a game but will pay smaller amounts for microtransactions.
Moore also really pushed the importance online components of their games. That’s understandable given that they are basically going always online for Titanfall and cutting out the offline single-player mode.
“We don’t ship a game at EA that is offline,” Moore told Engadget. “It just doesn’t happen. And gamers either want to be connected so their stats and achievements reflect who they are, or you want the full multiplayer experience on top of that. We don’t deliver offline experiences anymore.”
Hopefully this quote shows that we are going to see EA wedge the Titanfall style of multiplayer-only games into every franchise. Instead, it looks like every game to have achievements or a gameplay component that involves connecting to the internet. As such, I wouldn’t panic about the possibility of EA making Dragon Age: Inquisition a drop-in, drop-out co-op game rather than a traditional BioWare single-player campaign.
Now we know EA’s plan going forward. The question becomes if anyone will follow them. The answer to how long they’ll focus on F2P and online games is clearly as long as it makes EA money.