Electronic Arts CEO Larry Probst discussed the current state of microtransactions, the PS3 network and defended EA’s record for innovation.
Games like Madden 2007 and Need For Speed Carbon have drawn fire for their microtransaction policies in the past few months, having users pay money for features like extra jerseys and stadiums that would normally have been included with the games in previous years. Probst admits some mistakes were made, but claims that EA is on the right track with Need For Speed Carbon.
“With some of the initial titles, we did hear complaints from consumers, but I think we learned. We did a better job on Need for Speed Carbon, and we’re not hearing those same kinds of complaints or negative feedback about that product. It’s generating a lot of money through microtransactions,” he said. “So it’s a learning process, it’s iterative and we’ll get better about it as we go. Need for Speed is the first example of getting smarter about it.”
EA as a whole has been working toward fewer licensed games and more quality in general, but recent releases like the new Superman have people wondering if the change is real. “Last year, about 40 percent of our business was wholly owned intellectual property, and our goal is to move that up to 50 percent or better. We’ve got some great things in the pipeline. You mentioned Spore, there’s Army of Two. We’re resurrecting the Command & Conquer franchise.
“What else have we announced that I’m allowed to talk about? Skate is a really cool-looking game. That should give Tony Hawk a run for his money. Tony’s getting old,” Probst said, taking a shot at Activision’s cash cow.
Finally, Probst mentions plans for smaller games on Xbox Live and potential games on the PS3 network. Why only potential? EA has a different plan for how they would like to handle online content for Sony. “They have one model in mind, and we have something else in mind,” he said.