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EA calls microtransactions the future of gaming

EA calls microtransactions the future of gaming

Wed 20 Jun 2012 10:59pm GMT / 6:59pm EDT / 3:59pm PDT
OnlinePublishingFree-to-Play

EA COO Peter Moore outlines the future of our industry

EA chief operating officer Peter Moore's vision of gaming future will frighten some fans: Moore believes microtransactions will eventually be a part of all games. In an interview with Kotaku, Moore explained how the real growth is coming in the free-to-play business model.

"I think, ultimately, those microtransactions will be in every game, but the game itself or the access to the game will be free," said Moore.

"We're getting 5 cents, 6 cents [average revenue per user] a day out of these people. The great majority will never pay us a penny which is perfectly fine with us, but they add to the eco-system and the people who do pay money - the whales as they are affectionately referred to, to use a Las Vegas term - love it because to be number one of a game that like 55 million people playing is a big deal."

"I think there's an inevitability that happens five years from now, ten years from now, that - let's call it the client to use the term - [is free.] It is no different than... it's free to me to walk into The Gap in my local shopping mall. They don't charge me to walk in there. I can walk into The Gap, enjoy the music, look at the jeans and what have you, but if I want to buy something I have to pay for it," he added.

Moore said the industry needs to reach out beyond hardcore players into the general populace to succeed.

"It may well be that there will be games that survive and they are the $60 games, but I believe that the real growth is bringing billions of people into the industry and calling them gamers. Hardcore gamers won't like to hear this. They like to circle the wagons around what they believe is something they feel they have helped build - and rightly so," he said.

Is free-to-play our ultimate future? The full interview with Moore can be found over at Kotaku, where he also talks about the work EA Partners does with independents.

26 Comments

Craig Burkey Software Engineer

212 408 1.9
F2P Isn't something I like, What I would like is for the game DEMO to be replaced with a free prequel like say Dead Rising 2:Case Zero and then expand on that in DLC for those people who just want alittle more, they could buy on Case/Episode basis however still the option to buy all the content in a bulk abit like itunes track/album purchases.
What I'm afraid of is forced multiplayer,constant advertising,over emphasis on multiplayer/co-op, spammed with minor content, important content being overpriced, lack of end game content, the risk that support for the game will end as interest moves on the next big game,gamble boxes for key items

Posted:2 years ago

#1

Sam Brown Programmer, Cool Games Ltd.

235 164 0.7
I've never understood why people object so much to microtransactions. After all, I spent a large part of my childhood inserting 10p microtransactions into the local Defender machine.

Posted:2 years ago

#2

Terence Gage Freelance writer

1,288 120 0.1
As consumers, are those of us prepared to pay 40 upfront for a release not more valuable than that tiny single-digit percentage of people who get unhealthily addicted and will spend pennies or pounds or dollars per day? Is the retail model really so broken that developers need to monetise every aspect of a game's design in order to make it a viable prospect? Would games like Ico or Metroid Prime or Catherine have ever been developed if games were designed around how to maximise profits? I mean, it has been well documented how Zynga don't build games, they build software based on data and metrics designed to keep players hooked and wring as much money from users as they can.

Why does it feel like we loyal consumers who spend hundreds of pounds on videogames per year are being marginalised and neglected? And does it really have to be all or nothing - can developers and publishers not have investments in both payment models (and those in between), and build their titles around that which would best suit it? If this is really the route you'll be going down EA and, for instance, I can play through Dead Space 4 with the Plasma Cutter and basic armour or start paying for goodies to make the game easier, then you can count me out.

Posted:2 years ago

#3

Robert Swan Designer/Artist/Producer, Double Ace Game Studios

4 1 0.3
Call me archaic in my thinking, but whatever happened to "here's an entire game, it costs X to buy, enjoy"? The whole nickel-and-dime and drip-fed content may be excellent for certain publishers' business models, but as a gamer, it sure as hell leaves me colder than a polar bear's backside.

Posted:2 years ago

#4

Tameem Antoniades Creative Director & Co-founder, Ninja Theory Ltd

196 164 0.8
@Terence, answers below (as i see it):

As consumers, are those of us prepared to pay 40 upfront for a release not more valuable than that tiny single-digit percentage of people who get unhealthily addicted and will spend pennies or pounds or dollars per day? NO

Is the retail model really so broken that developers need to monetise every aspect of a game's design in order to make it a viable prospect? YES

Would games like Ico or Metroid Prime or Catherine have ever been developed if games were designed around how to maximise profits? NO

Why does it feel like we loyal consumers who spend hundreds of pounds on videogames per year are being marginalised and neglected? IT'S JUST A FEELING - YOU GET BIGGER AND MORE GAMES THAN YOU EVER HAD FOR YOUR MONEY

And does it really have to be all or nothing - can developers and publishers not have investments in both payment models (and those in between), and build their titles around that which would best suit it? YES BOTH CAN AND DO CO-EXIST (WITH STUFF INBETWEEN)

Posted:2 years ago

#5

Paul Smith Dev

189 154 0.8
I have no problem with free-to-play games I just worry more games are going to be pay-to-win. I refuse to play any pay-to-win game there's just no point

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Smith on 21st June 2012 11:55am

Posted:2 years ago

#6

Anthony Gowland Lead Designer, Outplay Entertainment

211 730 3.5
@Terence

So people who pay hundreds of pounds a year in 40 chunks are "loyal customers", but people who spend a pound a day are "unhealthily addicted"?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Anthony Gowland on 21st June 2012 1:23pm

Posted:2 years ago

#7

Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters

528 788 1.5
@Anthony: People who spend 40 chunks generally know what they're spending, and consider thoughtfully what they're going to buy and whether it's worth it. F2P encourages people spending more money than they would want to without realising it. It's just a con to trick people into spending beyond their means.

If F2P is really how games are going to go, as a consumer I'll be ditching games entirely.
It is no different than... it's free to me to walk into The Gap in my local shopping mall. They don't charge me to walk in there. I can walk into The Gap, enjoy the music, look at the jeans and what have you, but if I want to buy something I have to pay for it," he added.
Peter, I want to play games, not go shopping. I hate shopping. Don't turn my leisure time into a shopping trip. Besides, this analogy is wrong. F2P is the equivalent of walking out of Gap with a load of free clothes but having to pay money every time I wear them. "Here's a free pair of jeans! Go on, take them! Terms and conditions: 1 a day wearing fee".

Posted:2 years ago

#8

Anthony Gowland Lead Designer, Outplay Entertainment

211 730 3.5
No, I get it. It's the usual "people who buy stuff in f2p are being tricked and can't count" massive generalisation. I wonder how many people who read Eurogamer could tell me exactly how much they've spent on games in the last year, maybe I can paint them all as addicted fools who have been tricked from their money by cunning publishers using simple psychology.

Your Gap analogy also doesn't fit with a lot of f2p games I've played. I've never been charged "per play" for stuff (at least, not since an arcade).

Posted:2 years ago

#9

Mike Rusby 3d character modeller

21 1 0.0
I can see the day when games are just a long series of adverts and FMV. you might get to press a button now and then to load the next advert.
I would never pay any money for extra content,I am quite content to pay for the game, but not be ripped off further.

Posted:2 years ago

#10

Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters

528 788 1.5
Fair enough, I was thinking along the lines of the purchases like coins in Draw Something, that get used up so you have to keep buying them over and over.

Personally, I wouldn't have as big a problem with it if I knew that buying every item in the game was going to come to 40 or some equivalent. It's that having no upper limit on spending that's going to give me a bad taste the whole time I'm playing, and having to keep a mental tally.

Put it this way, if F2P has nothing to hide, why don't the games have a really obvious counter on screen that shows the player exactly how much they've spent on your game to date?

Posted:2 years ago

#11

Terence Gage Freelance writer

1,288 120 0.1
How about then you get a free pair of jeans from Gap and you can wear them for free, but any time you want to put something in the pockets you have to pay up?

Posted:2 years ago

#12

Sam Brown Programmer, Cool Games Ltd.

235 164 0.7
@Dave:
I was thinking along the lines of the purchases like coins in Draw Something, that get used up so you have to keep buying them over and over.
Like I said before, how is that different to feeding an arcade machine?

Posted:2 years ago

#13

James Prendergast Research Chemist

735 432 0.6
@Sam - I suppose the counter argument is: What happened to all the arcades then?

[edit]
I should probably expand upon that a bit! :)

Arcades were fine in their time until consoles came along. You know how much I spent in an arcade when I was growing up? (I'm guessing you're older than me here, or it could be locational differences) Probably less than an old tenner. However, I did have a NES, SNES and a Megadrive and each of those consoles had four or five games bought for them. We had paid up-front but I could play those games as much as I wanted (and I did!).

"Free to play" is a bit different because you get the free part of the game to play as much as you want (and I'm assuming that the whole game can be experienced through that avenue though I'm not certain that's the case with these types of games)... only no one paid for the console or the game up-front. I'm just a drain on your resources and my parents would not let me spend lots of money within a game. Sure there will be families who do that and there will be adults playing these games who will do that as well..... I guess I'd have to see the numbers across the whole F2P landscape to believe that you're getting as much or more money in total than you do in the current models.

Personally, I see F2P as a fad - it might last 10-20 years and will always exist in some form - but as it stands I don't think you'll get the same quality, level and breadth of games in a F2P setting that you do now. In the same way that the old coin-op games were designed around that one screen and trying to get the player to feed in as many coins as possible, F2P doesn't want to focus on stuff that won't get it potential money.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by James Prendergast on 21st June 2012 4:30pm

Posted:2 years ago

#14

Sam Brown Programmer, Cool Games Ltd.

235 164 0.7
@James: Arcades died (to some extent, not completely or I wouldn't be currently wrestling with the CCTalk protocol ^_^ ) because people started being able to get the same entertainment at home, not because of their pricing structure.

What I'm saying is there's nothing wrong with the system of paying a tiny amount per game. It's what we used to do as kids, so why do we resent it now?

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Sam Brown on 21st June 2012 5:27pm

Posted:2 years ago

#15

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,611 1,472 0.9
It's what we used to do as kids, so why do we resent it now?
Maybe because we're more mature, as consumers? We can see that paying a vast amount incrementally over time for bits of a game is worse than paying a large amount up-front for all of it. We also know that the industry is fully capable of producing good games which aren't F2P... It's not like this is the last-gasp of the industry. It's just another revenue-stream, and we all know it.

Posted:2 years ago

#16

Jeffrey Ates Critic/Writer/Enthusiast

24 1 0.0
I could not have said it better myself. Companies don't understand that there is a section of the market Im included in who will not stand for f2p since it essentially takes a 40-60 dollar experience, Dilute's the shit out of it for added game time, and sell it back to you for 10 easy payments of 29.99 a month and thats not right. Give us a game and add stuff for people who wana keep playing and paying.

Posted:2 years ago

#17

Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,193 1,170 0.5
The big, stupid thing here is BOTH models can exist (and should), but we're heading into an area that's going to fail at some point because it's going to shut people out who are smart enough to know what they want but aren't getting it because of an unstable business model being pumped up as the future perfect.

hell, If I want to buy a FULL game experience and pay that "higher" retail package cost, I should have every right to. If someone knows that they can pay for that same experience with microtransactions and buying into the experience, sure, let them do so as well.

Granted, an educated consumer is the BEST customer (as Sy Syms used to say), but people want to pay through the nose or pay to win (which to me, negates any game experience entirely if all you need to to is have enough disposable income to buy the best gear or have the game play itself), that's their fault and yeah, their money should be taken whenever it should.

That said, I just want to see SOME common sense coming down the pike, not just "Well, it works NOW and it'll work in the future!" claptrap.

Posted:2 years ago

#18

Jamie Knight International Editor in Chief, Playnation

61 26 0.4
Love how Ninja Theory's Tameem comes in like his is 'the' definitive answer (LMAO)

"I'll huff and I'll puff....."

all I need now is to fly superman around for the new lego DC heroes trailer on my roflcopter

Posted:2 years ago

#19

Sam Brown Programmer, Cool Games Ltd.

235 164 0.7
@Morville:
It's what we used to do as kids, so why do we resent it now?
Maybe because we're more mature, as consumers? We can see that paying a vast amount incrementally over time for bits of a game is worse than paying a large amount up-front for all of it.
On the other hand, it could be considered fairer - the people who spend more time with the game (and therefore get more out of it) pay more for it than someone who tries it a few times and doesn't like it.

If I don't like an arcade game, I don't feed money into it. We've all got games in our collections that we paid 40 for and then only played a couple of times. How is that worth it?

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Sam Brown on 21st June 2012 10:32pm

Posted:2 years ago

#20

Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd

1,020 1,467 1.4
Ironically at this rate EA won't be part of that future :-P. But, seriously, sure, microtransactions are a big part of the future of gaming monetization, but not necessarily for all games. The runaway success of Skyrim show's there's still a strong market for releasing a complete game with no preorder, milking DLC, or online pass bullshit.

Posted:2 years ago

#21

Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters

528 788 1.5
@Sam Brown - Why do you automatically assume I like(d) arcade machines? I always think of arcade machine games as "the bad old days", where games were designed to be impossibly hard or short to keep you shovelling money in. And that's something common to F2P and arcades too. I want the games designer's first priority to be "how can I make this fun/exciting/immersive", not "how can I make people give me money?". I don't like business dictating game design.

Posted:2 years ago

#22

Sam Brown Programmer, Cool Games Ltd.

235 164 0.7
@Dave: Fair enough, it's just that virtually everyone I know in the industry used to love arcades as a child. Possibly I am of an age. ^_^

I agree with Greg, all models should exist, and either flourish or flounder on their own merits. Certainly the arcade model is completely inadequate for deeper, more story based games, maybe an episodic model works better (I wonder if SIN Episodes would ever have worked?)

We buy so many things in small portions instead of a whole, books, DVDs, music, why not games?

Posted:2 years ago

#23

Jonathan Tan ,

9 1 0.1
I think the comparison made should be between f2p+microtransations and the monthly subscription fee.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jonathan Tan on 22nd June 2012 9:13am

Posted:2 years ago

#24

Tameem Antoniades Creative Director & Co-founder, Ninja Theory Ltd

196 164 0.8
@ Jamie Knight

Did you miss me three words: "as i see it"

This isn't NeoGaf

Posted:2 years ago

#25

Brian Smith Artist

197 87 0.4
My only issue with alternatives to retail games is the way the actual game design changes as a result of being focussed towards micro-transactions. Every turn, every splurge of content, every bit of progress is meddled with in order to monetise the product.

Personally I just like the retail products stance, as in, here's our game, from start to finish, play how you like and you pay this, X cost, for the experience. I feel less happy when it's a case of here's our game, the more you play it the more you'll pay us, it will never end and we'll constantly leave stories hanging and content dangling in order to keep you around.

Posted:2 years ago

#26

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