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EA: Free-to-play as profitable as console games

EA: Free-to-play as profitable as console games

Free-to-play games do well in usually difficult territories, says EA's Frank Gibeau.

Electronic Arts has reaffirmed its commitment to the free-to-play genre, promising that it will expand aggressively in low cost and free-to-play markets in the future.

Speaking to GI.biz (login required), EA's Frank Gibeau said that free-to-play games such as Battlefield Play4Free and Need for Speed World can be as profitable as console games.

'Frankly when they get to scale, have huge audiences, are very profitable, they're not cannibalising the main games and they actually reach markets that we're not currently serving,' said Gibeau.

'With Need for Speed World, Russia and Brazil are number one and two - the Ukraine is in there too. I can't sell packaged goods in those territories.'

'But I'm reaching an audience with Need for Speed content. It's an engine that's not as advanced as Frostbite 2 but it's certainly got great production values and great game designs, and it's free-to-play with micro transactions. It's a very exciting time from our perspective because it's not all about consoles. It's about smartphones, tablets, free-to-play, browser, social.'

Some of EA's free-to-play games have struggled to impress more established audiences, however - we didn't reckon much to Battlefield Play4Free in particular.

Let us know your thoughts in the forums.

10 Comments

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V3ctor 28th June 2011, 13:34 Quote
TF2 is free and survives selling... hats... So, they know that this is a good business model
Almightyrastus 28th June 2011, 14:02 Quote
I play around with a couple of the free to play games on Facebook and there are plenty of optional items that you can buy for cash rather than in game coins and there are always plenty of my friends with those new items.
They are pretty sneaky when it comes to the process of buying them as well, the prices are not in real world £, $ or € but rather in [insert game name] cash so when you see an item for, say 50 cash, most people are not going to realise that it is really costing them £XX or whatever, it's not 'real' money.

Just started playing Black Prophecy too and that works on the same idea, the paid for bits are optional and give you a bit of a boost but you don't have to buy them to get on with things although I am sure plenty do.
shigllgetcha 28th June 2011, 14:45 Quote
You silly EA, you silly
Xir 28th June 2011, 15:16 Quote
Played...what's that cartoonish battlefied again?..for a while.
Thoroughly Meh, very unbalanced.
thil 28th June 2011, 17:57 Quote
This does what for single player now?
Gigglebyte 28th June 2011, 20:05 Quote
I'm not sure how I feel about this. Hopefully it can breathe some life back into the PC platform, even if the free to play games are quite "casual", and stop developers marginalising gameplay for money making schemes.
I think that we will see a further decline in the emergence of "hardcore" PC titles in favour of free to play titles, as they are relatively cheaper or easier to make and can see a higher profit margin. It would be nice to see more developers and publishers being passionate about the games we love and not spoonfeed us second rate games.
metarinka 29th June 2011, 04:56 Quote
I'm not a huge fan of free to play games. first it's generally an excuse to have limited functionality or standard game play features cost money. Also a lot of them turn up the grind fest, or show you the shortcut if you'll only dish out the hard cash. In the long run I would rather pay my $60 upfront and get all the feature forever as opposed to 0 upfront then anywhere from 1$ to 10$/ week to play the game. I hate being nickle and dimed.

I did buy $45 worth of gold for world of tanks, but I've used it judiciously and it's been lasting me since release.
SexyHyde 30th June 2011, 00:06 Quote
browser based f2p are rubbish. bfheroes got about 2 hours use. same with the others i have played. valve have mixed up the f2p system by releasing a whole fully polished game, where there revenue comes from buying items, nearly all of which you can get for free if you play the game long enough (drop, trade or craft). this is as opposed to other games, where some game changing items can only be purchased. and thats where the confusion is f2p used to be one model, now it is many, so talking about f2p as one thing has become ridiculous.
Krayzie_B.o.n.e. 5th July 2011, 01:06 Quote
Been schooling the silly consolers for a while that PC Gaming is very profitable and they need to face reality that consoles are dying. As consoles become more PC like Pirating becomes more easier (Gears3 is already out) along with Rentals and Used Game sales taking away huge profits. So all you consolers out there I suggest you go buy yourselves a nice KB/M.
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