EA’s Growing Mobile Venture
Many game developers have recognized the mobile market as a viable platform for future titles. Many popular franchises that began on Consoles or PC have begun to appear more on Mobile. Bethesda’s Fallout and even Elder Scrolls franchises have or will soon be on mobile. EA has had many popular Franchises release on mobile. Sim City, Star Wars, Dungeon Keeper and even Dragon Age. So why has EA taken such an interest in the Mobile Market?
Mobile is Great for Microtransactions
The mobile marketplace is well known for free games with microtransactions. Some games will not push you hard to spend a few dollars every now and then. However, some games can be just predatory towards consumers. To nobody’s surprise, some of the games with aggressive microtransaction tactics are from EA. Just search google for “Dungeon Keeper UK.” The UK ruled that EA could not advertise the game as “Free” because of it’s aggressive use of microtransactions.
EA Uses Another Beloved Franchise for Microtransactions
Those who caught it at E3 saw that EA was releasing a new Command and Conquer. Fans were happy to see this classing Real-Time Strategy game that fans thought they would never see again. EA saw an opportunity to use nostalgia to push their microtransaction monetization model to increase revenue. The problem they face is the backlash from Star Wars Battlefront 2 hasn’t dissipated completely. Many gamers already saw through EA’s strategy from the moment it was announced.
EA Claims “Fair is the Number One Thing”
EA’s Chief Design Officer, Patrick Söderlund, sat down for an interview with Gameindustry.biz. Patrick was asked about how EA has learned from he Star Wars: Battlefront 2 backlash and how they plan to handle microtransactions in the future. Especially after EA claimed there would be no loot boxes in Anthem or Battlefield V (There will be cosmetics, but you’ll know what you’re paying for). Patrick’s response about Loot Boxes and pay-to-win:
“For us, we have come together after the learnings with what happened last year,” Söderlund said. “We’ve put together a framework on how we believe a large service should function, and it’s something we apply across the whole company, across all products.
“You have to look at it from the perspective of what’s fair. Fair is the number one thing. When you buy a product from us, you should get full value for the money you spend. There should be a fair game economy in the game so you can’t pay to win. We don’t want you to be able to pay your way to be better than others. That’s important to us. But we also look at trends in the market and see people are fine with paying for other things, such as how they appear in the game. That seems to be completely fine.”
So, Fair is Important? Then explain FIFA Ultimate Team, Patrick.
Patrick stated that “Fair” gameplay was important for EA moving forward. That players get value for their purchase and can’t “Pay-to-win.” However, when gameindustry.biz’s Brendan Sinclair pointed out FIFA Ultimate Team being pay-to-win, Patrick had to come up with something. Here is what Patrick had to say:
“I think you have to look at Ultimate Team as a mode in a really deep game experience,” Söderlund said. “If you pay $60 for FIFA, you get a game that is ginormous, with a single-player campaign in it, with online matches and tournaments, and a lot of free updates. You can choose to partake [of Ultimate Team] or not. The option of choice is super important… People look at that and say, ‘It’s a mode. I can choose to partake or not. That’s fine. I paid my money for the game and there’s enough value in there even if I choose not to partake of it.’ And we see it in how many hours people play FIFA.”
So, you buy FIFA for $60. Then, you play the singleplayer mode without pay-to-win mechanics. However, if you want to play the online Ultimate Team Mode part of the game, then I guess you better spend more money to level the playing field. After all, this Ultimate Team mode is “Optional” right? I guess when you buy FIFA, your paying for the singleplayer mode experience only.
Is EA Honestly Trying to Repair Customer Trust?
We’ve seen numerous titles coming up from EA at E3. Patrick and others from EA have tried to paint a picture that the games will be fair and not predatory. That we will not be pressured into paying money to just even the playing field in multiplayer. However, at the same time, titles that are already available still show signs of EA’s manipulative greed built into the core gameplay. If EA can’t fix the predatory nature of past/current games, can we honestly trust their future releases? Only time will tell if trust in EA would be misplaced.