Though some console game publishers are reluctant to adopt the free-to-play business model, EA is saying that it can be just as profitable as modern console games.
Frank Gibeau, head of EA Games said today in an interview with Gamesindustry.biz that he believes those kinds of games will be important for EA going forward.
“We’re aggressively investing in things that are very low cost like free-to-play,” he said. “The free-to-play group inside of EA Games is growing extremely fast — we’ve got 17 million users.”
“I’m reaching an audience with Need for Speed content,” said Gibeau. “It’s an engine that’s not as advanced as [those used in other big budget EA titles] but it’s certainly got great production values and great game designs, and it’s free to play with microtransactions. It’s a very exciting time from our perspective because it’s not all about consoles. It’s about smartphones, tablets, free-to-play, browser, social.”
“There is clearly a vast and largely untapped audience waiting to play games and buy them in a different way,” continued Gibson. “It’s unlikely that the boxed [games] industry is ever going to reach the same heights that it has before. We think microtransactions are increasingly attractive to a vast chunk of users.”
The future of microtransactions on consoles isn’t yet certain though. While developers can release F2P games at-will on PC, the only console manufacturer that is said to be interested in exploring microtransactions is Sony.
Ubisoft is similarly testing the F2P waters with its upcoming Ghost Recon Online. EA also has Battlefield Play4Free in development.