EA: Free-to-Play Market Will Threaten Console Business

EA: Free-to-Play Market Will Threaten Console Business

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An EA executive said that free-to-play games will seriously disrupt the videogame market in two to five years.

Free-to-play (F2P) games allow you to download and play with limited functionality or gameplay limits such as playing up to certain levels. If you'd like to play all of the game or gain access to certain content such as dungeons or items, then you must pay money. For now, free-to-play games are only found the PC. MMOs are the most popular F2P genre with titles such as Jagex's RuneScape always offered for free and, more recently, many MMOs converting to the F2P model such as Turbine's Lord of the Rings Online. The model works and many MMO companies have reported a huge increase in revenue after switching to teh F2P model. Ben Cousens is the managing director of the free-to-play Easy division at Electronic Arts, who just announced PC shooter Battlefield Play4Free today. He said that not only is the F2P model successful on the PC platform but it will soon threaten the console videogame business.

Cousens believes that consumers will soon be wondering whether it is worth it for them to spend so much money on an expensive console. As F2P games improve in quality and presentation, like Battlefield Play4Free is likely aiming to accomplish this spring, consumers will see the idea of spending hundreds of dollars on gaming equipment and peripherals as somewhat foolish.

EA will have to compete to "grab the TV screen away from the console manufacturers," Cousens said. He looks to platforms such as Apple TV and Google TV as possible ways for F2P games being played on consumers' TVs without the need for a gaming console.

He offered one bit of advice for console makers: make it easier to release games on your platforms. A truly open platform, like the PC is now, will be the one way to insure that the F2P model doesn't pass consoles by. Opening up Xbox Live or the PlayStation Network would drastically change the market and allow publishers to set their own pricing models.

"Anyone who thinks in terms of walled gardens is in trouble," Cousens said.

Source: Gamespot

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I agree that companies should be able to determine how much they think the game costs, Microsoft thinks otherwise.

EA gets +1 charisma, still -482629202.22 to go.

So, people will play anything as long as its free?

Honestly, I can't say if I'm not a little bit baffled by this. F2P titles have been out for yonks, why would it only start affecting consoles now?

Greg Tito:
The model works and many MMO companies have reported a huge increase in revenue after switching to teh F2P model.

Not usually big on this, but a site such as the Escapist should be somewhat more professional. I get it's just a typo, but it shows you cannot be bothered to proof check your articles.

Popido:
So, people will play anything as long as its free?

Yes. I've seen some truly broken and terrible F2P games that still manage to maintain anomalously large communities.

Socially, it seems to be more about the ability to interact with people beyond a mere chat window that draws people to these rubbish games.
In any case, the F2P model will rise and then fall as new standards are made. Hopefully because people will eventually wake up and see the absolute dogshit they are wasting their time with.
Hopefully..

In a way, it makes sense. Opening up closed systems sounds like a good way to help change how people play games, and allowing publishers set up monthly service fees for an MMO on the consoles is a relatively good idea, as the developers can be certain that people are playing the game on the same hardware, and can therefore squeeze as much out of that console as possible.

On the other hand, it just seems like he's blowing hot air for his own game. I mean, how long have Runescape and Adventure Quest been out? What about Flash portals like Newgrounds, Ebaumsworld, and Kongregate? While the advent of higher quality, F2P MMOs is a fairly recent trend (I think), it seems a little premature to say that consoles are going to get left behind in the dust due to this model.

Sparrow:
Honestly, I can't say if I'm not a little bit baffled by this. F2P titles have been out for yonks, why would it only start affecting consoles now?

Greg Tito:
The model works and many MMO companies have reported a huge increase in revenue after switching to teh F2P model.

Not usually big on this, but a site such as the Escapist should be somewhat more professional. I get it's just a typo, but it shows you cannot be bothered to proof check your articles.

Well until fairly recently you couldn't play these F2P games on TV since you couldn't use it to go online. Now you can and can therefore play these games on a TV, though this doesn't explain what EA expects people to use for a controller, I don't think a DVD remote will do the job.

archvile93:

Sparrow:
Honestly, I can't say if I'm not a little bit baffled by this. F2P titles have been out for yonks, why would it only start affecting consoles now?

Greg Tito:
The model works and many MMO companies have reported a huge increase in revenue after switching to teh F2P model.

Not usually big on this, but a site such as the Escapist should be somewhat more professional. I get it's just a typo, but it shows you cannot be bothered to proof check your articles.

Well until fairly recently you couldn't play these F2P games on TV since you couldn't use it to go online. Now you can and can therefore play these games on a TV, though this doesn't explain what EA expects people to use for a controller, I don't think a DVD remote will do the job.

But you can use a TV as a display for a computer. How long has that technology been out?

A good laugh, that.

Now if only there were F2P versions of games I actually want to play.

I love playing games

I also love collecting them. If I can't collect the systems and the games (in physical form) - welp - I will move on to something else. Being 35 - maybe its time to stop giving EA my money and start building and restoring old cars instead

Wait, so he's saying the free-to-play game market will cause the console gaming market to die off!? Oh my god! Good! Consoles suck anyway.

danintexas:
I love playing games

I also love collecting them. If I can't collect the systems and the games (in physical form) - welp - I will move on to something else. Being 35 - maybe its time to stop giving EA my money and start building and restoring old cars instead

That's exactly why I'm against digital distribution.

danintexas:
I love playing games

I also love collecting them. If I can't collect the systems and the games (in physical form) - welp - I will move on to something else. Being 35 - maybe its time to stop giving EA my money and start building and restoring old cars instead

Why so you can carry more stuff around when you move? Everything decays, you game in physical form will not always be there.

archvile93:
Well until fairly recently you couldn't play these F2P games on TV since you couldn't use it to go online. Now you can and can therefore play these games on a TV, though this doesn't explain what EA expects people to use for a controller, I don't think a DVD remote will do the job.

Just trying to squeeze more money out of kids pockets.

As for that TV thing..nah. When the hardware gets more stable enough, the console competision will convert into making gaming OS or Steam like clients. And perhaps we'll see some new gaming phones in the future.

tehroc:

danintexas:
I love playing games

I also love collecting them. If I can't collect the systems and the games (in physical form) - welp - I will move on to something else. Being 35 - maybe its time to stop giving EA my money and start building and restoring old cars instead

Why so you can carry more stuff around when you move? Everything decays, you game in physical form will not always be there.

You could bury them and wait for 2 years till some alien race finds them from the wreckage. Think they would be quite shocked.. finding collection of Myst.

Free to play games have been around forever. Why would the sudden release of (another) free battlefield change that? There are hundreds of free MMOs out there. League of Legends is an amazing free DotA game. Wolfenstein Enemy Territory and F.E.A.R. both have free multilayer components for FPS games.

I could go on and on, there are tons of free PC games in pretty much every genre, one more is not going to tip the scales and change the world.

BlackWidower:
Wait, so he's saying the free-to-play game market will cause the console gaming market to die off!? Oh my god! Good! Consoles suck anyway.

Yea!
I think this is good too.
The console business could use a little more threatening.
Let's threaten them some more, maybe next generation we wont get consoles that break half the time or we can get halfway decent support for the ones that are actually built somewhat well. This generations consoles have been sad, overpriced, under worked, pieces of crap. I'm just going to keep my pc up to date come next gen.

Yeah I think console games shouldn't be only console games.. (Sounds odd but I hope what you mean)

And F2P games I got only one issue with it.

By dividing people in to two groups, People who pay for items/levels/better content are going to stick mainly with people who also are able to explore the same content. And people who play free stick together for same reason. This will in long run divide the community in to two separated part that will not really communicate together. And in even longer run this can easily kill the game and it community when people with better gear, higher level, better content are going to dominate the people who wont or cant afford, to pay.

Heart of Darkness:

archvile93:

Sparrow:
Honestly, I can't say if I'm not a little bit baffled by this. F2P titles have been out for yonks, why would it only start affecting consoles now?

Greg Tito:
The model works and many MMO companies have reported a huge increase in revenue after switching to teh F2P model.

Not usually big on this, but a site such as the Escapist should be somewhat more professional. I get it's just a typo, but it shows you cannot be bothered to proof check your articles.

Well until fairly recently you couldn't play these F2P games on TV since you couldn't use it to go online. Now you can and can therefore play these games on a TV, though this doesn't explain what EA expects people to use for a controller, I don't think a DVD remote will do the job.

But you can use a TV as a display for a computer. How long has that technology been out?

have you ever tried getting a PC hooked up to a TV? until recently when you started to get HDMI connectors on graphics cards and TVs it was a right pain in the arse

PC Gaming never threatened console gaming. These kind of predictions go back as far as the NES was released in the united states. Back then "experts" claimed that nobody would buy consoles as soon as the 16 bit computers were released. And we know what happened next: The NES still sold well way after the release of more powerfull computers, and PC and Consoles coexisted as plattforms for different types of games. Free to Play could hovewer threaten the Xbox 360, since it relies to heavy on being a PC substitute for playing certain types of games.

dickseverywhere:

Heart of Darkness:

archvile93:

Sparrow:
Honestly, I can't say if I'm not a little bit baffled by this. F2P titles have been out for yonks, why would it only start affecting consoles now?

Greg Tito:
The model works and many MMO companies have reported a huge increase in revenue after switching to teh F2P model.

Not usually big on this, but a site such as the Escapist should be somewhat more professional. I get it's just a typo, but it shows you cannot be bothered to proof check your articles.

Well until fairly recently you couldn't play these F2P games on TV since you couldn't use it to go online. Now you can and can therefore play these games on a TV, though this doesn't explain what EA expects people to use for a controller, I don't think a DVD remote will do the job.

But you can use a TV as a display for a computer. How long has that technology been out?

have you ever tried getting a PC hooked up to a TV? until recently when you started to get HDMI connectors on graphics cards and TVs it was a right pain in the arse

That really depended on what kind of computer you had. From around 2000 to the time HDMI ports started taking over, it wasn't uncommon to find an S-video port on the side of a laptop. My dad's old DV series HP has one, and it was quite convenient for hooking up to a TV to get something from Hulu or Youtube up on a decent sized screen. Granted, most computers didn't have that, and needed some kind of a converter box to go from VGA to component or composite video, but it was hardly all of them. I will say that it's only with the advent of HDTVs with VGA ports and, later, laptops with HDMI outputs, that gaming on a computer hooked up to a TV has been feasible. Unless you want to play an old DOS game, 480i isn't going to cut it with a PC game, but that's the best a standard S-Video port can output.

Is there anything that isn't being seen as a threat by EA?

The free-to-play market gives substandard games an opportunity to earn a bit of money (RF Online, for example) from something that nobody is willing to pay for. It's also a neat way for developers to take a bit of a risk and sucker people in. It's only really damaging for the big studios with obscenely bloated development costs.

Solution: Stop making shitty games.

TOTALLY...NEW...CONCEPT!!!

This seems to be the common sentiment of late.

I don't see it, though. The only free-to-play game I've ever enjoyed is Dungeons and Dragons Online, and that wasn't developed on a FtP budget.

I'll sit on the fence a while longer - but I think I know which way I'm going to fall.

 

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