This weekend at Gamescom, Electronic Arts’ COO Peter Moore claimed that EA would no longer be shipping games without an online component, shocking absolutely no one. The publisher has made no secret of its love of online functionality – both because of the add-value to players that increases a game’s lifespan, and the microtransactions that have come to define EA’s online offerings – and it hasn’t released a game this year that didn’t feature at least some online connectivity. Moore also stated that EA was looking to continue the free-to-play model currently seen in games like Battelfield Play4Free and the upcoming FIFA for mobile devices, and that all EA games are moving in that direction.
“The ability for you to be able to interact with those franchises on a free-to-play basis is going to be part and parcel with every major franchise we do now,” Moore told Engadget.
That doesn’t mean that EA is going to suddenly change its entire product line up, nor does it mean you can put away your wallets if you want to pick up Battlefield 4. If anything, you should keep them handy for all the clever new (and ultimately frustrating) ways to spend money via microstransactions. What it does indicate though, is that we should soon see more offshoots of popular EA franchises adopting the model that has fundamentally changed PC gaming. Battlefield’s free model is a success, and the upcoming FIFA game on mobile devises will also use the new financial model. Both are separate and original offshoots of the retail games, and will likely prove to be the first of many.
In the interview, Moore also claimed that EA is currently focusing the bulk of its energies on the console market as it prepares for the next-gen debuts later this year. After that comes mobile titles, and then free-to-play PC games. The next-gen consoles are expected to have a significant influx of free-to-play games, so those lines may soon blur.
Moore also restated EA’s online policy. “We don’t ship a game at EA that is offline,” Moore said. “It just doesn’t happen. And gamers either want to be connected so their stats and achievements reflect who they are, or you want the full multiplayer experience on top of that. We don’t deliver offline experiences anymore.”
That doesn’t necessarily mean that every EA game will have a playable online mode, but all games will in some way make use of online connectivity.