FIFA 18 | Electronic Arts
EA TO DITCH YEARLY RELEASES?
It's a possibility.
by Felipe Parada
Yes, you read that correctly. Everyone's favorite video game company is planning on getting rid of their yearly release formula for a more service based system. EA wants to go all in on "Games as a Service" business model for their two biggest sports titles, FIFA and MADDEN. No on paper it sounds like a good idea but can it really work?
A lot of developers are switching to the "Games as a Service" model as a good way to keep players spending money after the initial release of a game. Games like Battlefield 1, Rainbow 6, Grand theft Auto 5 and recently, Call of Duty WW II have all proven that the business model can actually be profitable. Just recently, as reported by forbes.com, Grand Theft Auto Online's shark cards net an additional $500M in microtransactions, with a nearly 100% profit margin thanks to the minimal costs associated with releasing additional content.
Now what does this mean for FIFA and MADDEN? In a recent interview with Bloomberg, EA Chief Andrew Wilson stated that:
"There is a world where it gets easier and easier to move that code around -- where we may not have to an annual release. We can really think about those games as a 365-day, live service"
When asked if he could see EA releasing online content regularly rather than annual releases, Wilson said,
"The short answer is: yes. There's a few different things that's got to happen first. We do a lot in a FIFAgame every year, and a lot in a Madden. There's a lot of code that we make available as part of a new iteration. But when we look at what we do in Korea or China, we don't do it that way [elsewhere].
About every four years we release a new big code drop and we offer incremental change over time. So what we see in Korea or China, and what we see on mobile, I think there's a world where that might happen in other parts of our business."
So instead of buying the game every year we could have something like a service fee for getting patches for new kits/jerseys, updated rosters and any additional updates in game play. The thought sounds promising and in an era of digital gaming it would make more sense to offer a game that can be played now vs waiting every year. It just goes to show you that despite EA's classification of "worst company" they still make strides toward innovation.
But let's just backtrack a second where Wilson stated that this will be treated as "a 365-day, live service" . You know what this means, constant internet connection which can present its own set of problems. Wilson is very aware of the hurdles that be presented with an 'always online" mindset where he went on to comment that:
"The greatest disruptor to the consumption of entertainment media in the last five years has been the combination of streaming plus subscription. It's changed the way we watch television. It's changed the way we listen to music. It's changed the way I read books. There is a world not too far away from now where video games move from being a discrete, conscious experience to an indiscreet, subconscious experience."
It seems that Andrew Wilson has given this issue some serious "matrix-like" thought but in the long run he kind of has a point. We are at the point where yearly releases could be a thing of the past. If anyone can pull off a "subscription based" sports title with some sort of control, it would be EA. It would be nice to have live roster updates, the newest jerseys/kits and game play tweaks without having to wait for a year. You can be we are going to keep close eye on Mr. Wilson and EA and how they transition these games to subscription based services.
What do you think? Are excited with the possibility of not having to wait for yearly releases? Leave us a comment below.