Bigpoint: EA doesn't understand monetising content

CGO Philip Reisberger says big publishers "aren't really there yet" when it comes to monetisation

Philip Reisberger, chief games officer of browser based gaming company Bigpoint, has criticised Valve and EA's approach to paid content.

He was referring specifically to the Battlefield 3 pre-order bonus of exclusive weapons, which EA has insisted won't give pre-order players a special advantage.

"In a nutshell, EA doesn't understand it," Reisberger said in an interview with Edge.

"It wouldn't ruin the game. If selling an advantage ruins the game, you haven't done the balancing right…EA and Ubisoft, for example, they're both trying, but they're not really there yet."

German company Bigpoint offers free to play, browser based games like Battlestar Galactica Online and ZooMumba, and has around 220 million registered users. He argues that with the right strategy, there are no limits to the potential for monetisation.

"It's a delicate balance, though, and that's why I love my game designers. All of them have understood how to do this. If you have a sophisticated approach to free-to-play games, in the end you can monetise everything."

He also spoke about Valve's recent decision to make multiplayer title Team Fortress 2 a freemium product.

"There are millions, hundreds of millions of people willing to invest even though they aren't obliged to. The crucial part of the design is not having to invest, but wanting to. Most people in the Bigpoint universe don't ever pay."

"But if they want to pay, don't just offer hats - offer them something that will help them."

Last month Bigpoint announced its collaboration with Spil Games' social gaming platforms.

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Latest comments (18)

I'm not really sure what our Bigpoint fella here is trying to say. I'm with Barrie here that the preorder content is to incentive pre order of BF3.

Perhaps its just really to highly how cool Bigpoint is, or what a market leader they are with F2P content, but slating Valve and EA in counterbalance is not going to make many friends.
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Peter Ohlmann Technical Director 6 years ago
Bigpoint is desperate for any news. In contrast to Bigpoint EA already released tons of games that matter.
And who really cares about 220 mio 'user' where 180 mio accounts are used once and now inactive .
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Michael Bennett Jack of all trades, master of some. 6 years ago
Has he forgotten that EA is also the second largest social game developer in the world?
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Show all comments (18)
Nino Protic Product Manager, InnoGames6 years ago
Oh come on, you cant compare pre-order. Look at EA Dice (EAsy Studios) Battlefield P4F, they manage to monetiz it fairly well. I mean, i am a huge fan of Battlefield, but even though i work in the P4F business, i am a hard nut to crack when trying to get me to buy content. Battlefield P4F, manages this without any problems.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Nino Protic on 7th September 2011 12:08pm

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Christopher Bowen Editor in Chief, Gaming Bus6 years ago
This just in: a tiny company no one's heard of is criticizing a big company. TOP STORY!!!
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Could be a slow news day, where the swizz pegged the franc, nikkei dropp 4%, UK to accept Euro in 14 days at major outlets (what?) eurozone still in calamitous punch drunk boxing round, greece rumoured to default for the 100th time by december, 3DS has some weird strapon analog pad, dead island trying to rejunate with first day patch, batman gets a personal boycot due to the stupid amount of different pre order dlc gimmicks, BF3 edging closer and closer, conspiracy theorists awaiting some earth shattering event, and sharp resolution images of the Moon available at the LRO, and yesterday they found a mother of all crocs in Indonesia (one report said they killed it, another said it was captured alive)

Do I win a weekly quiz round?

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Yannick Boucher Project Manager, Crytek6 years ago
+1 to just about every commenter.
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Sean Decker VP, Play4Free, Electronic Arts6 years ago
Damn, and there I was thinking we knew a little bit about game design and monetization.
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I guess acquisition, data-mining and integration of Playfish and PopCap count for naught
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Tim Carter Designer - Writer - Producer 6 years ago
The biggest free assets with Valve are maps.
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David Bachowski VP Business Development, Babaroga6 years ago
+1 to Dr Chee
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Michael Lewis Product Manager, Electronic Arts6 years ago
I thought my guns and XP boosts in BF play4free existed. Guess not. You ripped me off Sean!
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Robert Aiking Product Manager, InnoGames6 years ago
Speaking as someone working in precisely the same market as BigPoint, I wish we had that kind of industry insight.
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Tyler Blair Assistant Producer, EA Canada6 years ago
Since when is a pre-order incentive a monetization plan?
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Fred Skoler Business Strategy, Design, Engagement, Sweepstakes, Contests, Executive Producer 6 years ago
I believe that Reisberger's attention to design that enables purchase of "advantages" is correct for digital goods sales in browser based games.

Not all designs should follow this model and not everything needs to support browser based games. There is room for a collection of content that leverages online sales opportunity.

The specific pre-order comparison w/ Battlefield 3 does not make sense.

There are many opportunities for digital sales in the browser based community that have yet to be tapped. The phone as a gaming device will continue to broaden that market with location based and augmented reality games. Bigpoint has yet to introduce something truly new.

Large publishers of AAA content are all working toward finding the right mix in their portfolios. Bigpoint can't compete where AAA excels but AAA will find ways to compete in the browser based market w/ their recognized IP.
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Lenny Raymond Vice President, Strategy & Development, Subutai Corporation6 years ago
Reisberger has a good point. You absolutely, for sure, monetize better if you sell game-effective items. In the short term. In the long term you can too, if you are careful about design and players don't perceive that buying game-effective items makes the game unfair. This isn't just a question of making the game-effectiveness small (e.g. the BF:H approach, which helps, but doesn't go far enough), but designing the whole reward system and metagame with the sale of game-effective items in mind. Bigpoint gets this, and it is reflected in their games. Same with the Nexon games, and a few games that are starting to come out of the US and Europe.
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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game6 years ago
Not only is he comparing a pre-order incentive to micro transactions, there is a world of difference selling advantage on a free to initially play game and one you have expected people to shell out 40/$60 on. In fact, when I look at when EA try to ape free to play MTs on games like Dante's Inferno, that's when they are getting it wrong.
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Pay to win is a concept that offers good (not necessarily better) monetization, yet the games coupled with this concept also need to be thoughtfully wrapped around it. Bigpoint has done a nice job with BSG, unfortunately very many gamers seem to be turned off by this F2P flavour.
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