Peter Moore: Future of EA franchises is free-to-play

Microtransactions to fund the future of FIFA, Tiger Woods, and others as publisher aims to become "the world's leading sports entertainment brand."

EDINDBURGH--Speaking at the Edingburgh Interactive Festival this week, EA Sports president Peter Moore outlined the way that EA has adapted to the changing marketplace. He highlighted how the company has adapted to negative consumer perceptions and how he sees EA maintaining its relevance into the future.

EA Sports' Peter Moore.

Joining the publisher from Microsoft's Xbox division two years ago, Moore said the move was "akin to being airlifted onto an oil platform that was soon to catch fire," illustrating the point with a picture of a North Sea platform blazing away after an accident. He said the firm was not adapting to the changing marketplace, adding that porting PlayStation 2 titles to the Wii in an attempt to capture some of that market was a failure. And as the rest of the games industry was experiencing 20 percent or more growth, Moore said the sports sector was flat, even contracting.

In Moore's view, the firm needed to hit the reset button and take stock of where it was and where it wanted to take its franchises. There was community unrest with increasing criticism of the firm for pumping out annual roster updates, and it came to the realisation that it had to adapt or die, having "failed to innovate" from 2003 up until three years ago when things started to turn around.

Over the past two years, EA has changed its structure entirely and tackled its criticism head-on, Moore said. Developers have much more contact with users, and the company now monitors the "buzz" around its games via social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. It monitors user activity up to a year from release to make sure that people who are playing the games are getting what they want and feel that they're being listened to.

Innovation has been a large part of this, with Moore citing FIFA's Be a Pro mode as an example, but the main change has come from embracing online content. This has included purely online products such as 3 on 3 NHL Arcade and FIFA's Ultimate Team, the latter of which has generated $10 million in profit since its launch in March. Moore also talked about the expansion of online updates through tracking and updating--not only of rosters throughout the season, but also through features such as the NBA Dynamic DNA technology that tracks players and teams on a day-to-day basis. Expanding these features will be key to keeping current players on board, according to Moore, as well as drawing in new gamers to its core franchises.

However, pushing into new markets and expanding the reach of EA Sports into growing gaming demographics such as women and families is significantly more challenging. Through EA Sports Active, EA Sports is "finally talking to girls," Moore said, noting that the expansion of that game is going to be key to growing EA's market. Moore said EA Sports Active is not so much a game as a platform that allows EA Sports to "change people's lives" and to pull people into EA Sports games who would never have thought of picking one up.

Talking to GameSpot after the keynote address, Moore said of EA Sports Active: "We feel very bullish…the key is we've got to keep innovating. You're not going to see us churning out expansion packs for it. I can only sell you so many neoprene straps for your leg!" He also promised that more details on the current planned expansion pack will be revealed next week at GamesCom in Cologne.

Looking further ahead, Moore picked up on the success of FIFA Online and NBA Street Online in Asia. FIFA Online has 7 million players, according to Moore, and he revealed that Tiger Woods Online is currently in closed beta. While traditional game retail will be part of EA's business for a "very, very long time," free-to-play online games are "the future of where our key franchises are going," he said. Paid subscription models will be key, but microtransactions will be the company's main way of making a success of these franchises, he said. Moore gave the example of a Tiger Woods game that's initially free to play, but in which 50 cents will get players a better golf club, or a $5-a-month subscription will unlock new courses on a regular basis. While this will mean in the long run that the company will sell fewer discs, it "attacks the barriers to entry" that are the company's most serious stumbling blocks towards further growth.

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82 comments
BLaZiNg_SPEED
BLaZiNg_SPEED

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

lhscouchmonster
lhscouchmonster

they have pay to play all wrong. instead of charging 60 for the game, sell the game engine with a course for 15. sell new courses for a few bucks. if you want to buy clothes and crap that DOESN'T enhance your player then thats up to you. making people play to be on an even field is complete BS. madden: buy the engine for 25 but pay extra for roster updates that come out every few weeks. charge a one item fee to buy the online component. you can buy new uniforms and crap that don't enhance player attributes too.

Harerazer
Harerazer

As sad as it may seem, Moore has taken over the reigns or the industry and is driving it right now. I couldn't believe the PS Store (and I'm sure XBL too) had Madden cheat codes for sale the day before the game came out! What used to be Madden cards ("All of your players get a boost for one play"), EA is now charging money for (fifty cents and up). And I will bet anyone that people were buying them so that they could cheat even before they had the game. We can b!tch all we want but somebody must be out there buying this stuff or they wouldn't be selling it. What's next, EA? Selling 50 point leads or opponent injuries?

Jericho66
Jericho66

A perfect example of this would be Tiger Woods 10, barely out 2 months and already 4 new courses as PAID DLC I belive (I may be incorrect as to how many, at least 4)

-Pred-Alien-
-Pred-Alien-

Yeah i thought EA were good now, guess not = (

maybe_he
maybe_he

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Yakuz-A
Yakuz-A

Just when I start liking EA again, they give me a new reason to hate'em..

dogpigfish
dogpigfish

EA has done better this year in content. Still, they are overpriced; but I do appreciate them stepping up to innovation like the wii motion plus.

houdeany
houdeany

pay-to-play needs to go. They are missing out on alot of potential customers by putting in extra's that cost extra. I pay $120 for a brand new game, and have to pay extra to unlock the whole thing?.. Bloody con-men.

atopp399
atopp399

Paying money for better gear in games will fail to attract casual gamers which is who they should want to lure in if they want to grow.

ndraper
ndraper

Less FIFA more Dead Space. Thats of course if Moore is listerning. Instead of feeding his face with deep fried Mars bars and haggis.

raahsnavj
raahsnavj

Subscriptions to play TW Golf? Having to shell out REAL money to buy better virtual equipment? Hum. Whatever. If this takes off there really are a lot of chumps out there. I still think they could have done better by just making Tiger Woods a 'brand' like Rock Band has. Let each new disc install its predecessors courses... every year (or two) you can buy an upgrade to the game engine that will continue to run EVERY course to date made for the franchise. Make it worthwhile to upgrade and own them all... microtransactions will be nothing but death. I'm not buying a rehash game piecemeal or $5 every month. I would rather drop $40-$50 when it makes sense and ride the brand.

DieselCat18
DieselCat18

Pay as you play ....Nice!....I didn't like your Car Salesman routine when you were with MS ....Now I see you have really stepped up your game over here.... Way-to-Go Petey ... :(

ZippyDSMLee
ZippyDSMLee

All they have to do is up the retail price 10-20$ that is if they want to offer great multi player capabilities. Micro transactions suck unless the core game is under 30 and all the DLC amounts to about 100$.

ZippyDSMLee
ZippyDSMLee

All they have to do is up the retail price 10-20$ that is if they want to offer great multi player capabilities. Micro transactions suck unless the core game is under 30 and all the DLC amounts to about 100$.

onlymetal75
onlymetal75

Peter moore has took this co. to a whole new level. madden is the best football game out. Now if they can only bring ncaa up to that level.

badtaker
badtaker

Peter Moore means No love For PC. PS2 ports to PC WTF

Justforfun44
Justforfun44

I am not interested in micro-transactions or subscription fees.

Gblazer01
Gblazer01

i could care less.. personally i dont find sport games fun cuz id rather just play them in real life, way more entertaining

szwierzy
szwierzy

REX265-- I most agree with you, but I somewhat disagree. The 'gun to our heads' are these ridiculous exclusive licenses EA inks. Want to play an NFL game? EA is your only choice. For the record, I do think EA has gotten much better over the past couple of years, so I don't want to come across all anti-EA, but the current state of gaming is far from perfect.

szwierzy
szwierzy

Microtransactions is the exact reason I never bought Guild Wars. Good game, but I want to know what I am getting into when I invest in a game. Oh wait, am I supposed to just disregard my $50 game purchase, as a mere start-up fee?

ghost2046
ghost2046

this new plan will kill ea franchises and they will finally lose their exclusive deals--thank god

Humorguy_basic
Humorguy_basic

The fact he believes there is 20% market growth in gaming shows how he still wants to hype the business, or he doesn't know his own industry. The Wii and DS take 90% of that growth. PS2 actually takes the other 10% and 360 and PS3 is flat. If you add in the PC market, gaming is actually down 17%! So his assertion that gaming is up 20% is not the whole truth. little bits are up a little bit, and big bits are either flat or down.

outworld222
outworld222

Newsflash: There is nothing in life that is free. Most things cost money. EA has a catch. That is the most likely answer. Stay tuned. But I notice their quality of games has gone up. Good for them. But no, I don't buy these free stuff for one minute.

REX265
REX265

Hey EA is not putting a gun to gamers heads and forcing them to purchase there products. The general public has to be a more educated consumer and stop being so mindless and care free with money. Simply, if you dont support them they will have to change! the

tupperliam
tupperliam

Tiger Wise I love what they have done with it. You don't have to pay for anything other than new courses which personally to me is awesome because now I don't have to go out and buy a new tiger woods 11 next year, I'm going to have new courses. And the buying feature is for people who are to lazy to actually beat the game to unlock the better equipment. It gives those lazy people the ability to just spend 5 bucks max out there golfers and they just play online all the time but if you actually play the game you unlock all of it.

iceeman
iceeman

I don't want this future EA speaks of, what I want is plain old Earl Weaver Baseball for my PC.

jyffrank
jyffrank

wtf they charged 75 pounds for the conferences and they talked about microtransactions??!! oh the irony!

lugemeister
lugemeister

Utter BS. This man is a typical speak right corporate clown who has no idea what gamers really want. "Attacks the barriers to entry", "Key Franchises", "Paid Subscription Models". Chuck in a few words like Twitter to show he is "in touch" and he even talks to girls now, some sort of Knighthood should be bestowed for such a gesture, obviously. Excellent, I won't need to buy a TW2040 (essentially the same game as TW 2001 but with whoever won the US Open in 2039 and fewer courses) disc but if I want to keep playing it for a number of months I can subscribe for $5 to keep playing a game. This is not what gamers want, this is Peters latest business model for how EA can fleece gamers as much as they can. To be fair he has actually started this model, the charging loads extra for add ons bit - he just hasn't gotten round to the free to play bit yet. Maybe later eh Sir Petey? Next time may I suggest you get a ride onto a real oil rig.

ScreamDream
ScreamDream

Hey Peter, it's nice to know you monitor the buzz around social networks and listen to gamers as printed in this article so listen to this. I'm not paying $.50 for a special play in Madden, kiss my grits and you look like Satan.

Zloth2
Zloth2

Hehe, yeah, free to play as long as you play your golf game with just a 5 iron and a 3 wood. If you want a putter, that will be $5. Tees cost 10 cents each. I wonder how long until one of the console platforms end up with a port of the Flash game the same way PCs were stuck with PS2 ports?

thingta42
thingta42

Yeh EA has improved but it still could be alot better

ultravga
ultravga

having microtransactions does not give everyone a level playig field. If (for example) new clubs are released for purchase I assume they will be better than the pack in ones so people without them will be at a distinct disadvantage with online leaderboards etc. Does not seem like a good move really.

Furycliff
Furycliff

Its scary how many people blindly games like Madden every year. And its not like EA is putting out god awful games, but games like NCAA football sure come with a lot of flaws.....

BloodMist
BloodMist

Yeah, unfortunately it's been a very viable business model because there's too many fools out there that go for it and let themselves get ripped off without even thinking, period.That's been a problem with the world in general for a long time now.

mglas72
mglas72

I don't see anything different if anything they have gotten worse. Microtransactions are the vilest way they are making money and show they have nothing but contempt for their customers. The annual recycling of the sports games further shows they don't really care about the quality of their products either or there wouldn't be a need to release them so often. I will buy Tiger Woods but only every 3-4 years, and then if i wait a few months i'll get it half price.

alexkn64
alexkn64

I hate microtransactions. Just put up the full price of the game so you don't nickle and dime us on everything.

pgmonkeeuk
pgmonkeeuk

Well, on one side of the coin, I like what EA have done over the last few years with their increased hands-on approach. I mean, EA Forums and groups are now jam-packed with developers asking for ideas on how to improve the future of the franchises and even, on the odd occasion, releasing patches purely based on customer feedback. This is not the same EA from two or three years ago - who never listened to anything anyone had to say. So Peter Moore's done a good job there. But...it's still the same ol' EA - and they will take you for every penny that they can suck out of you time and time again. Moore boasted about Tiger Woods - and the paid subscriptions for "regular new courses".....the word "new" is misleading as most of the DLC's for Tiger 2010 chucked out by EA so far have either been courses already on the Wii (that didn't make it the the 360 or PS3), or courses that have been in previous Tiger Woods games. The phrase "money for old rope" comes to mind.

FidelSarcastro
FidelSarcastro

@beachdreamer That is exactly why when I found out about Madden I called up my local gamestop and canceled my pre-order of madden. I will probably do that for now on with all their games that they wanna pull this stuff on. I am sure that it wont matter to them at the end of the day but it will matter to me knowing I dont financially support their shotty business practices and hey... its just a game, no big loss.

Phooey442
Phooey442

i'm going to be so pissed if this goes past the sports games and screws over battlefield 3.....micro transitions...another name for stealing your money in small amounts so you dont notice as fast

AirPortugall
AirPortugall

tbs76 - i know what you mean, i like your idea but they need new graphics and animation every year because a game's never perfect. If it was me i'd get retailers to offer some type of trade-up program. Lets say you have FIFA 09 and FIFA 10 comes out. If you trade FIFA 09 in for FIFA 10 you'll get like $30 off of FIFA 10. I have no clue if that could be possible but if it could it'd be pretty sick.

beachdreamer
beachdreamer

ashalldredge - I totally agree, i bought madden and my god there are things that should already be in the game for sale as dlc. EA is becoming the biggest monopoly in the gaming industry sadly enough.

FidelSarcastro
FidelSarcastro

Well from the business model that they are using for NCAA, Madden, Sims etc etc etc it seems that Nickel and Diming gamers is the business model for the future.

tbs76
tbs76

I have a solution for EA which could drive sales and also save them development time and money. Its obvious that many of there sports franchises have hit a plateau and its becoming harder and harder to make the game "fresh' so to speak. What they need to do now is drop the yearly edition process and just make one difinitive title of each respective sport and just make roster updates or small refinements for minial fees. I am tired of buying a new hockey, football, soccer or golf game every year just to see a roster update, small graphic or animation improvements, or two or three new game modes for a whopping $60. This company has been laughing all the way to the bank for years and overcharging for downloadable content. Its time the fans spoke with there wallets and show these companies that we are tired of update games. We wouldnt buy many other franchises if they pumped out minor upgraded games each year. For example look how stale the Tony Hawk franchise became and the Guitar Hero games are in danger of becoming because of the copy paste method of game development. We dont mind sequels, but we dont need them every freakin year.

CMakaCreative
CMakaCreative

This new way of paying for a full gaming experience is crazy. I remember when $50 would give you a finished game, cheats, unlockables, side quest & more included. I guess making tens of millions of dollars on a game is not good enough anymore. Now they want to make hundreds of millions & billions of dollar per franchise. So they find ways to keep sucking our money out. I know it's a business but when does morale come into play. When does doing right by the customer who keep these businesses afloat count. Games may look great but they aren't any more fun than the games I played 10 -20 years ago. The orginal Tecmo Bowl game with nameless teams was fun as hell. Madden is fun but not that fun where I should pay $60 for a game & then potentially pay anywhere from $0.50 to an additional $20+ more to enjoy basically the same game. For that, why not give us the game cheaper. $29.99 & then nickle & dime us. I'm not sold on where the gaming industry is headed.

taylormadederek
taylormadederek

Sounds like a plan. I sure wont participate in this nonsense but I think that it is a good business idea to move towards. I don't really like EA but Moore is quite a genius sometimes.

VolcanoMan001
VolcanoMan001

EA's sports games sector is "flat", as he says, because they are flat games. After seeing what comes out each year, I think more and more that sports games should not come out every year but instead should be released every other year with some sort of paid roster download / game update in between. Either that or the price of sports games in general should be much lower than they currently are. The content from year to year vs. what you pay is lacking to say the least. It is far more gratifying to play the same sport(s) game for several years and save several hundreds of dollars (literally, if you like to play more than one sport) since you don't really miss much if you do this.

dynomitemasta
dynomitemasta

$5 a month for freakin golf clubs in Tiger Woods is more than it costs for a Gold subscription to LIVE. Having to buy a better club or gun, or whatever is unacceptable. It's not like in real life where if you have the talent you can tee off with a zucchini and make it work. If they start you off with crumby gear in the game there is only so well you can do, unless it's just for aesthetics, which I doubt. So like always the poor people that can't afford these "micro-transactions" lose, and the spoiled brat with the father that's a heart surgeon gets all the gear. Pathetic. If you drop $60 on a game, that should be enough.

starbead
starbead

The subscription model is going to fade away (probably sooner rather than later). But microtransactions as they are used today just don't work. Companies need to be looking for middle ground. AFFORDABLE middle ground. XBL and PSN DLC are jokes when it comes to value per dollar. BUT, they represent a look to how microtransactions/subscriptions are better handled. Look at Fallout 3. It was a long full game (leaving aside bugs and stability). It was well worth the $60. Since then they have released 5 DLC packs at $10 a piece. Was there $50 worth of value there? NO. But at a more reasonable price point, that is the way to handle ongoing content. Give people REAL content at a price point that is decent instead of nickel and diming us to death. Madden should not be a yearly series. They just don't change enough from year to year to justify another $60. So give us a full roster update and modest gameplay changes in a DL pack for $20-30 in off years and only charge full price when we are getting a new game. If fans would take the initiative and not buy the (practically) same game every year, EA would have to adjust to keep its sports franchises profitable. But people are sheep, so nothing will change in the near future. BTW, does Madden 2010 have a mode that lets you feed Michael Vick to a pack of Philadelphia pit bulls? I'd pay good money to download that!