EA: freemium is 'where things are going'

VP of mobile and social reveals Real Racing 3 off to best start in franchise history, despite objections from naysayers.

The freemium business model is "where things are going," according to Electronic Arts vice president of mobile and social studios Nick Earl. Speaking to GameSpot sister site CNET about the recent launch of Real Racing 3, the executive explained that the mobile game has been a big success, due in part to its business model.

"There's no question that going freemium was the right way to go," Earl said. "The vocal minority lashed out at freemium. We respect them and understand, but the market has spoken. That's just where things are going."

Earl revealed that first-week downloads of Real Racing 3 exceeded the total for the past two games combined. In addition, 350 million races have been completed since launch, with 25 million completed every day. On top of this, EA said gamers are spending an average of 25 minutes per day playing the title.

Earl declined to say how many copies of Real Racing 3 have been downloaded so far or how much revenue the game has brought in. However, he did note that he was "vindicated early" from a financial perspective.

This is not the first time an EA executive has sung the praises of microtransaction-supported games. EA chief financial officer Blake Jorgensen said last month that consumers are "enjoying and embracing microtransactions" and that this business model will be built into more and more of the company's games moving forward.

Before that, EA chief operating officer Peter Moore said he believes microtransactions will be in every game in the next five to ten years. He likened the business model to a clothing store like The Gap.

"It's free to me to walk into The Gap in my local shopping mall. They don't charge me to walk in there," he said at the time. "I can walk into The Gap, enjoy the music, look at the jeans and what have you, but if I want to buy something I have to pay for it."

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Discussion

502 comments
scottttttttt
scottttttttt

Played this game for over a year now. Spent more than my share of 'micro transactions' (whatever the heck that is) in real dollars. Been a loyal promoter of the game, but then a few weeks back, Firemonkeys and EA changed the rules. There was a level that if you made it to, that you could actually accumulate enough gold to buy a top car or make a top upgrade...though still needed to play about an hour per 50 gold. Not an insignificant amount of time considering the car values I'm talking about are in the 400-900 gold coins and upgrades in the hundreds.


Firemonkeys and EA didn't like this new reality that THEY created and we played, so they cheated. Changed the rules in the middle of the game so it is now virtually impossible to get close to finishing the last few levels without spending hundreds of dollars in real money, or playing for hundreds of hours.


So, quit while you are ahead. Enjoy the game up to the point where you need to spend only gold coins on cars or upgrades and then ditch it. Time to move on. You'll never complete it, so don't bother. Firemonkeys doesn't care about their customers, so this customer for one will avoid anything produced by Firemonkeys.

jjfz
jjfz

I've been playing games since I was in grade 3. I've quit playing games recently because the nature of games have changed dramatically since then. In the past, games used to be designed based on a creative concept and then marketed to retailers like EB Games. However, now, business models are turned into games by adding non-sense storylines and fancy graphics. There's very little artistic creativity save for a select few like the latest Bioshock.

I could never treat freemium games like art. Can you imagine if Pokémon Gold sold Pokémon for $1 each ($10 for Mewtwo)? It'd ruin the experience and break the illusion of being immersed in a fantasy world. To me, freemium games seem to be dressed up slot machines where developers compete to see how little content they can provide before you reach for your wallet.

boomer0901
boomer0901

after 30+ years of gaming, I'm almost to the point where I just don't give a shit about gaming anymore, F2p models, micro-transactions, DRM, Online Single players game.  Yeah f-ck it, very tired of all this crap.  EA heading the charge big shocker there.

codeman101360
codeman101360

Let's turn this into a drinking game: Every time EA says "vocal minority", we take a shot.

MirkoS77
MirkoS77

Wonderful, just wonderful.  

Welcome to a world of grinding it out for hours and hours and hours and hours on end to even begin to advance through the game.  

Real Racing 3 charges for damage accrued during races, which even if you don't hit another racer, STILL accrues as general wear and tear.  Oh, it can be repaired with in-game money rest assured, IF you're willing to wait 15 minutes for the game to do so.  Yes, wait.  Just like waiting in their queue for Simcity.  This seems to be the new thing in gaming now.  Waiting, unless (and even WHEN) you pay, compliments of EA!  Bravo!

But wait.....you can pay up, and your car can be repaired instantly!  What a bargain!  Oh, and did EA mention their downloadable car for a measly $99?  Only one-hundred dollars for one virtual car, while supplies last! Want to unlock the entire game from the get-go?  Then be prepared to shovel out hundreds and hundreds (possibly approaching a grand or more) to be able to do so.

These are not games, they are machines for extortion preying on the stupid, which if EA is correct (I'm doubtful, I believe they are saying it's successful just so they can be justified in trying to push this abominable model) is truly sad.  As Psycold said, this is akin to slot machines.

EA needs to die, and I'm glad they are bleeding money and their stock is suffering.  Even so, instead of changing for the better as any sensible business would do to stay in business, they try to pass their ineptitude, arrogance, and greed onto the consumer to keep afloat.  But remember folks, it's FREE!  Just make sure you can dedicate half of your life to be even close to being able to see all that has to offer.

EA....the future of gaming.  I've never seen a company display such outright greed before.  What the hell is going on over at their headquarters?

FollowY0urBliss
FollowY0urBliss

Although I DON'T like Microtransactions, Real Racing 3 is great. and you don'thave to spend money. I haven't.

leimonides
leimonides

Sure it works sometimes, but that would depend on the game does it not? And how it is actually implemented into said game. Aside from all that....its one game; singing praises early, no? (what platform is this for anyway?)

Psycold
Psycold

Companies like this are turning games into slot machines. 

MooncalfReviews
MooncalfReviews

"Freeminim"?? You won't brainwash gamers into using that term, you vapid corporate non-gamer suits! We'll always call it "pay to win".

XxTheEvilxX
XxTheEvilxX

Brought to you by Electronic Assholes. Where crapping on gamers is only the beginning.

keech
keech

If "freemium" is where we're going, then this is where I get off.  The vast majority of publishers have shown time and time again they just cannot be trusted with a micro-transaction model.


If a "free" game isn't fun or even playable unless I pay money for extra features or content, than It's NOT FREE.


His analogy is way off as well.  It's more like going to a carnival where you have to pay money for every single ride and game every time you want to partake.


I'm pleading to the industry here: please for the love of god stop trying to turn yourself into a service/subscription model.  Please for the love of god just focus on making GOOD games that people WANT to buy.

a1450358509
a1450358509

Proud to say that I have been EA free since Bad Company 2!!!!! :)

kashkropsntokes
kashkropsntokes

It's funny how when an organization gets to be a certain size, their emphasis switches to primarily making money. EA at this point is a lot like the automotive manufacturers in the US: it has gotten so big to where their focus isn't making cars, but expanding enterprise to pay salaries. 

There's not even really a balance of art and industry when an IP has to even be SPECULATED to sell 5 million copies to be invented in the first place. There's no respect for art or artists when a game like Mass Effect 3 is released so broken and incomplete; the DLCs for that game belong as a part of the main story because otherwise the game feels hollow and without and dramatic pace. I can see now: 

Bioware: "We need more time to flesh out the ending and finish certain components of the story; there are gaps in pacing and we have issues with how former teammates from ME2 have been underused. The testers are the ones that complained"

EA: "Just release it on our predetermined schedule; multiplayer is working now and people will slide into that instead. There will be complaints about the ending, but that's after a few million people have already paid anywhere from 60-$120, based upon the version they got. We'll just add a better ending and the 'director's cut' scenes of Leviathan, Omega and Citadel later; that's $45 per $60-$120 unit sold. By the way, since we funded this project and support your servers, you work for us now. It's gonna be different around here..."


That's my assessment of big money game publishers. Always, if a game doesn't sell, a developer runs the risk of having their organization bought out and shuttered, a new part of the Leviathan.

savagetwinkie
savagetwinkie

I think the problem with this type of model will always come down to trust. We trust companies like valve because they don't abuse their game design to push us into making worthless transactions. EA appears to be hurting for cash and tricking players into paying for these things, or just outright making bad design choices in their game. EA we don't trust you and that's not going to work for this type of business model.

EA is just making a lot of poor decisions, dead space 3 was terrible, but the DLC awaking showed it at least had one developer that really new how to make a good dead space game, unfortunately it was a 2 hour experience that we'll never get to expand on. EA needs to let their developers make most of the innovation and stop spending so much on development and they should be good.

JulyAeon
JulyAeon

that is exactly why i go on U-Tube to have a look before i buy, especially when ea boasts of having done a brilliant top priced dlc that does nothing for my dysfunctional top priced single player game !!!!

I look and walk away!!!!

eric_neo3
eric_neo3

I hope EA investors believe in miracles because they're gonna need more than one miracle to get a return from EA.


While every dev is pulling out of mmo, mobile and freemium because they're not profitable you can always count on EA's "artistic vision" to miss the memo.

pip3dream
pip3dream

Also, did that guy really just compare playing a video game to walking into The Gap store?  What. the. F? If I want to play Tomb Raider, I want to play MF'ing Tomb Raider.  I don't want to walk into the GAP and put on some super cute salmon blazers?

pip3dream
pip3dream

What a bizarre way to sell software.  I also don't think I've ever been interested to even play a freegame.  Who wants to play a fucking game that is built like a slot machine??? Gross.

pcostix
pcostix

I don't know if they are trying to brainwash us with all this (the ones who don't like microtransactions are the "vocal minority") or not. Either way I'm not paying for micro-transactions.

To PC players is very hard to fight against EA since they own almost all the good PC Developing Companies, but if that what it takes... I gess I'll have to play non AAA games until they push me away of all the gaming industry for once and for all....

starduke
starduke

Freemium? More like Scamium.

Thunderstarter
Thunderstarter

Psst. Guys. I have a secret. 

If you don't like it, don't buy it! Vote with your wallet. 

blueboxdoctor
blueboxdoctor

I just want to buy the whole game and be done.  Don't lie EA, this is just a way to nickel and dime your way to charging more than $60 per game or whatever the price of a new game will be in the future.

Also, what in the world is real racing 3?

Raditz5
Raditz5

If EA would stop trying to tell gamers what they want things would go alot smoother....All EA does is anger everyone. We tell you what we want, you don't tell us what we want.

Lance2500
Lance2500

Freemium is exactly why I'm passing on the new Real Racer.

advancedcaveman
advancedcaveman

We really need a new term for freemium. I say we call it "Pyramidware;" it's essentially a pyramid scheme. 


AyatollaofRnR
AyatollaofRnR

I just want to be able to game with out micro transactions intruding on the process. Plus the whole game has to be designed around it. Which means money intrudes upon game design more than ever.


Thankfully I can't see it happening on consoles for a while.

PinchySkree
PinchySkree

You can take it there but I won't fucking buy it.

SuperDutchy
SuperDutchy

"freemium is where we want things to go, because our finance guys say we can make a grip of money selling shit that we normally include for free..."

 

StealthOmega
StealthOmega

and metacritic has the game at a 66. They are suckering stupid people

SEEDman_X
SEEDman_X

EA, I think you are just finding excuses for your failed MMOs.  As far as I know, many, if not most, of your MMOs did not start out as free.  They only became free after your subscription dropped below a certain level and freemium became your last attempt to milk the gamers.  Example?  SW the Old Republic, LOTR Online, etc...


Scarshi
Scarshi

If EA have all we don't want, why are they making so much money? Are they the problem, or are we - the consumers?

I'm beginning to think we forum EA haters are a very, very, very small minority that actually voice an opinion. Does an ant have quarrel with a boot?

PresidentDman
PresidentDman

With EA its like they bought my favourite cake store and then charged me double and added on a bit extra for the fork, napkin and plate I used. That's also because now I have to eat the cake in-store and can't take it home.  (which by the way there's another charge for the amount of minutes I spend in the store).

Micro transactions maybe driving the industry  now but its not going to take the consumer too long to understand thier good will is being exploited when buying into a franchise. I actually believe this model is going to damage the mainstream gaming business long term. 

jazilla
jazilla

i love these articles that eddie churns out ad nauseum. every other week it's, "EA thinks p2p is the way to go" or EA says that microtransactions are the bees knees. we know already eddie. it's not news anymore and none of us care. EA is also trying to tell us that we all want "always online functionality" even in our single player games. Guess what EA? No we don't.

godfather830
godfather830

it does make sense on mobile platforms (tablets and smartphones), but has no place in a console/PC context.

ZOD777
ZOD777

Saying that this is where the market is heading is ludicrous.  If I only offer you one option, of course that is where you have to head in order to be a part of my market.  There is not a direction the market is heading, only a market that is being forced on us.  I cannot stand it when companies try to make it sound like the majority of people are for something, when in reality, it is the only option.  No, this is not where the market is heading, this is the market EA is forcing on us.  Lets get that straight.

DisasterpieceMK
DisasterpieceMK

Comparing "walking into the Gap" to video gaming is one of thee most idiotic analogies ever to be spoken in the English language.
If I hadn't already planned on not purchasing a single EA game ever again, that statement would have sealed the deal.

jjfz
jjfz

@boomer0901 

Games don't feel like art anymore. They're just business experiments with sloppy storylines and fancy graphics.

boomer0901
boomer0901

how is this company still in business, I just don't understand why people don't stand up to corps like this, don't buy their games plain and simple the solution will work itself out.

XxTheEvilxX
XxTheEvilxX

@eric_neo3 LMAO. Good stuff. I agree. Their "artistic vision" is one filled with drawings of bending customers over the counter. You don't even get dinner with these guys.. just screwed. LMAO

WhiteStormy
WhiteStormy

@eric_neo3 Unfortunately, we're part of that "vocal minority" he's speaking of. At the end of the day, EA and their investors are gonna get their money because the ignorant majority will continue buying their games.  End of story.

pcostix
pcostix

@Raditz5 They own the PC gaming market and there is almost nothing PC gamers can do about EA if they want to keep playing AAA games.


PC gamers either either stay away from AAA games or are forced to put up with EA.... (stuck between a rock and a hard place).


My only hope is that EA goes down Zynga style.

Aleksa8
Aleksa8

@AyatollaofRnR Actually Dust 514 and DS3 have those, as well as LBP, Uncharted, and many others.

TheWizardMagus
TheWizardMagus

@Scarshi Well, I think alot of it is people not realizing it's freemium, and also new gamers are driving it. I think the more informed, hardcore gamers are rejecting it pretty solidly. It's taking advantage of people, basically. It'll never die, but I think it's potential for profit will drop as everyone gets used to (and avoids) these charges.

hadlee73
hadlee73

@ScarshiThis. EA summed it up perfectly with "The vocal minority lashed out at freemium". I may not like the way they are going, but even if everyone on this message board stopped buying EA products right now (and convinced their friends to do so) we'd barely make a dent in their profit margin.

MooncalfReviews
MooncalfReviews

@WhiteStormy  In the gaming industry, it's far more likely that a greedy company like EA will eventually collapse, because they simply aren't making good games anymore on top of trying to change the industry for the worse.

eric_neo3
eric_neo3

@WhiteStormy Not really.

Firstly get their last financial statements, it shows how much they paid out in shares. 

Second go check when they last paid dividends on shares.

Third go have a look at their share price. Their shares were 48.8 per share in 2008 now they're only 18.8 per share.

Fuzaki
Fuzaki

@hadlee73 @Scarshi 

Yeah because most people just can't seem to realize or care enough about the big picture. As long as they receive their instant gratification, they won't realize the long-run of things until it's basically too late.