EA And Free-To-Play For Life Despite The 'Vocal Minority'

By Trevor Ruben , Updated Apr 03, 2013 11:12 AM EDT
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EA is making money and the company isn't afraid to be happy about it, despite what EA All Play senior vice president and general manager Nick Earl calls the 'vocal minority' lashing out. We're talking about free-to-play, which, for EA at least, isn't going anywhere.

"The market has spoken very loudly that that's the model they like," Earl says in an interview with Games Industry International.

"Even though there's some vocal minority that don't like it, ultimately the numbers would show that they and others all support the freemium model better," he says, freemium being another term for free-to-play. EA's most recent high-profile mobile release, "Real Racing 3" came under fire from gaming critics and gamers alike for its supposedly crippling microtransactions in-game, though it seems to be doing quite well with consumers.

Earl used the game as an example of the disparity between what strangers on the internet are saying and what consumers are saying with their wallets. It's a quality game, no doubt, and one dependent on microtransactions to remain profitable. Earl believes the vocal minority's bark as far bigger than their bite.

"I think initially they were a little bit annoyed because the all-you-can-eat model makes sense for them. That's the kind of people they are," he says. "But at the end of the day, they're going to pay to eat, if that's their choice. And they're happy doing it."

EA has taken strides to change its ways over the past couple of years. Initially a behemoth in the AAA gaming market, and still that way today, as they grow their mobile division EA isn't leaving the AAA market behind, but it is trying to change that as well. "Dead Space 3," a $60 game, launched with an entire infrastructure of microtransaction in place. Gamers weren't required to pay any extra money to complete the game, but the option was there.

Following its release EA CFO Blake Jorgensen made it clear every game from then on was being built with microtransactions a possible inclusion, but wouldn't necessarily employ the practice.

EA is currently in search of a new CEO after John Riccitiello quit, citing responsibility for "financial shortcomings" as the reason.

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