Digital will change games development when dependence on retail fades, says EA’s Segerstrale

By Stephany Nunneley, Wednesday, 18 April 2012 22:03 GMT

EA’s EVP of digital, Kristian Segerstrale, believes the transition to digital will change how games are developed and even managed, especially as companies eventually lose dependence on retail, much like the film and music industries.

Speaking during a keynote at the Gamasutra attended 2012 Game Marketing Summit, Segerstrale, who founded Playfish in 2007, said business models for music and film shifted heavily to digital, and the direct cause has been a “vastly superior” consumer experience compared with retail.

However, when it comes to the digital games market, the industry still has “a ways to go.”

“We’re clearly going from boxed products to digital services,” Segerstrale said. “We’re going from up-front business models to games where the up-front cost is smaller and smaller, where there are free to play games out there. With this shift, our relationship with our consumer sometimes becomes more important than our relationship with the [retail] channels.

“No longer is the event of picking up a game tied to monetization. We’re going to see a decoupling of those things. You need to think of it like a consumer internet business, where acquisition is just the beginning. And rather than having one side of the company making games and other getting them to consumers, now the whole company needs to take part in those processes.”

Segerstrale said online game developers need to create in-game channels so as to communicate better with players which, in the long run would increase monetization.

One way to do this, he said, was the implementation of in-game notifications and UI elements which point users to new content, updates, and purchasing opportunities – like how EA does with The Sims Social.

“The game is built for us to be able to add content all the time, so consumers know there’s something new there,” he said. More than anything, players like to learn about a game while they’re playing it, so adding clear channels for in-game communication is crucial for boosting player engagement and eventually, monetization.

“The [promotion] outside the game is important, but what really matters is the real-estate in the games themselves.”

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Kristian Segerstrale