'There's power in free-to-play' says EA CEO

Publisher's top executive keen on F2P, says company is considering "different models" to help bring more players to Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello believes free-to-play games are a force to be reckoned with. Speaking to CNBC from Fortune's Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, Colorado this week, Riccitiello said, "there's a lot of power in free-to-play" when addressing competition from free-to-play games impacting Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Will The Old Republic go fully free-to-play?

"Our conclusion was we had a great product in Star Wars, but that the subscription model in the world of free-to-play was challenging," he said.

Riccitiello then explained how the recently announced free trial for The Old Republic--which allows users to play the game for free until level 15--was intentionally designed as a means to hook players on the title.

"What's exciting about content as great as Star Wars, is that when we expose it to people, they really want it," he said.

Riccitiello also chimed in on the recent report that BioWare was considering adopting a free-to-play business model for The Old Republic. He confirmed that EA is exploring "different models to bring more users into the game," but stopped short of saying such a change was in fact in the cards.

Star Wars: The Old Republic launched in December to a warm critical reception, and the game tallied 2 million in sales and attracted 1.7 million paying subscribers by February. In May, EA revealed the game had shed 400,000 users, falling to 1.3 million.

Elsewhere in the interview, Riccitiello teased that new consoles from Microsoft and Sony may be shown as early as next year. Outlining his plan for the company moving forward, he said "the most important catalyst [for EA] moving forward is visibility on next-generation consoles," which he said be may unveiled as early as 2013.

Lastly, Riccitiello claimed that investors are relying too heavily on the monthly NPD reports, which have been dismal of late. He made clear that these reports only factor in packaged goods in the United States, which leaves out the company's booming digital business.

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Eddie Makuch

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.
Star Wars: The Old Republic

Star Wars: The Old Republic

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thenephariouson
thenephariouson

I wonder how long it will take some developers before they come to the realisation that the publishing houses they work with are emotionless, remorseless money grabbing insects whos involvement in the gaming business will ultimately lead to its demise.

TurambarGS
TurambarGS

Not all F2P is the same. There are vastly different models within F2P. The ones that most people think of are the 'facebook game model' of free to play - i.e. pay for energy, pay for health, pay for more powerful items, power for content you can't get otherwise. Not all F2P is like that.

 

On the other side of the fence, League of Legends is the shining example of how F2P CAN work. I have friends who have never spent a dollar on it but are able to play and have access to everything involved in the actual gameplay. The only thing that money buys you in LoL that you can't access for free is aesthetics - skins and themes for characters. But there's no purchasing of power and you're never barred from playing unless you 'insert additional coins'. And what's happened? Riot is rolling in cash and League of Legends is the most played PC game bar none.

 

Free to play CAN work. It just depends on whether you go with a sensible model that doesn't imbalance your game (like Riot and LoL) or go with an exploitative pay-as-you-go model like those rubbish Facebook games.

raahsnavj
raahsnavj

Yep, better get the hype train going about how important free to play is before you take what you thought was a good idea, failure MMO attempt, and make it free to play.

 

One of these days someone is going to finally look at TOR and go... you know it would have been better as a single player KOTOR 3... when that day happens I might actually pay attention to the brand again. Until then I will know that KOTOR was  EA'ed into the ground.

LindBergh2007
LindBergh2007

I personally see many non Japanese publishers FAILING miserably at Free2Play's execution. The Western publishers' major flaw is that they offer lousy and poorly implemented DRM. Western publishers also have extremely GREEDY business ethics so any claim to F2P concept will likely have a catch were costs,operation fees,and mediocre DLC will factor in.

 

The Japanese will succeed. Most publishers in Japan like SEGA,Capcom and SqaureEnix will integrate F2P with Social Networking. DRM won't be unfair, but rather pragmatic and Conservative. Japanese publishers will have more content,more originality,larger Social Network interfaces, and more creativity with Free2Play.

 

EA,Ubisoft, you'll all FAIL at it. Because US consumers are too dedicated to physical form content and hardcore gamers will RESENT your cheapskate attitude toward Digital content. SEGA will succeed. They have a gold mine here and Sega Orbi will introduce the gaming world to the idea of Packaged 1st party home video games being sold wholesale with development costs at 30% less than the average price of packaged media. They'll bring $40-50 games back.

 

They'll be more to open up with Japanese Free2Play.

leepialong
leepialong

people should listen EA Louse from the started. Fanboys still defending this game on how amazing this game is. buddy!! look at on how it doing so far. remember Second layoff announced yesterday?

TheBlackEclipse
TheBlackEclipse

Oh I get it you guys. It's funny because It's EA, probably one of the top 5 greediest companies in the gaming market.

speed45823
speed45823

If it's gonna be free then it might as well be free-to-kick Riccitiello's ass. Now there's the power.

sauron210
sauron210

There have been a lot of articles on Gamespot about this subject lately.  I can't really tell whether that's a good or bad sign.

 

The price/value ratio isn't always better for free to play. More precisely I mean the time/value ratio.

nanosphere
nanosphere

Step 1: Take normal game with $60 box price.

Step 2: Add always-online DRM.

Step 3: Claim your game is an "MMO" with "no subscription fees"

Step 4: Profit from naive consumers who think you'll actually continue to support your game after it's launched.

SauhlGood
SauhlGood

ever since studies have shown that people are willing to pay more than 15-19$ a month in a f2p game model, in the form of game items, instead of the traditional $/per month model......a-holes like this have had a hard on for f2p gaming since.  Thats why for me any talk on their behalf that this is beneficial for anybody but the companies pockets is bullcrap.

XTREM1337
XTREM1337

I'm a swtor subscriber since the day 1, its my main game and I really like it.

The F2P model is a good idea. Look at Champion Online, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Everquest 2, Star Trek Online etc. those games was dead. Now with the F2P they were resurrected.

ChemicalReaper
ChemicalReaper

"There's power in free-to-play."

 

What he really meant was, "Half a million users have stopped paying for The Old Republic subscriptions, and the Board of Directors will fire me if they find out I green-lit such a massively expensive and disappointingly unsuccessful project."

gMcR
gMcR

What he really meant to say was: 'There is power in money".

megatronx2
megatronx2

ah, mass effect online - buy new dialog lines, new ship parts and planets, 

cheamo
cheamo

I don't do monthly subscriptions, and free play time is not going to hook me into them.

nyran125
nyran125

give me a set price and i play forever or i wont bother.

Suaron_x
Suaron_x

If F2P = ArenaNet (Guild Wars Model) then I'd agree with him.  But to him F2P = Microtransaction Customer to Death ---> P2W.   Consumers seem unwilling to pay $15/month for WoW with prettier graphics and lightsabers.  Why is that?  Maybe you should've designed SWTOR to be different, or maybe people are saying why should I pay as much for a WoW clone when I pay that for the original?  Further, financial troubles with SWTOR pretty much tell customers that WoW will be rolling out more new content more frequently.

 

Btw, this guy's face is really creepy in a pedophillic kind of way. 

speed45823
speed45823

What? I didn't hear the last part. There's power in free-to-what? What? Oh, free-to-reject EA games? Oh OK.

warhawk-geeby
warhawk-geeby

By free to play EA mean you'll be able to download it for free.  Then there'll be an unlock code at 25 quid, followed by 5 pound installments for everything thereafter.

 

I am NOT surprised that EA consider 'free-to-play' to be the way forwards.  A world in which you need to pay for DLC and micro-transactions to essentially have the full game?  They're already 80% there.

 

This gen has ruined gaming in my opinion.  I look forward to the future of games, but not 'gaming'.  It's all money money money.

J_Dangerously
J_Dangerously

They keep exploiting Free to Play with money gouging transactions (Insert $5 if you'd like to gain the ability to use the left side of your keyboard!!!), and it's only a matter of time before players wise up and start avoiding Free to Play the way they avoid subscriptions.

DraconisRex
DraconisRex

My conclusion is that Riccietello and the rest of the nincompoops at EA don't have a clue.    How many more billions do they have to lose before they get it remains to be seen.

Breyant
Breyant

I'm still waiting to hear a response why people are getting laid off and they are acting like the game is dying when not that long ago, EA was saying the game would be "substantially profitable" with only 500k subs.

speed45823
speed45823

I think they said it wrong. The right term is Free-to-pay.

speed45823
speed45823

'There's power in free-to-play'. The power to cash in more money. Will the evil schemes of EA never stop?

masterdrat
masterdrat

He's wrong, the futur is in private servers games.

Martyr77
Martyr77

I love the comments that say "I hate EA! I have only bought games 1, 2, 3, and 4 with games 5, 6, 7, and 8 preordered. After that I am DONE!"

 

How about not buying any of their games period?  Starting NOW.

itchyflop
itchyflop

cross play (cloud gaming if consoles can't handle it). 

BlackLense
BlackLense

"Free 2 play" but "pay 2 win"... Right?

fobbs69
fobbs69

Palpatine was a decoy. This guy is the real sith lord. Just look at that smile

Cruisemissile
Cruisemissile

What's this guy planning? I mean have you seen his face!? That's an Evil smile if I ever saw one!

tightwad34
tightwad34

How is the free to play going to work? I mean there is obviously no way we will get to play a game from start to finish without paying a dime, so what's the catch? They get you hooked and then take your money? So if you only play F2P you will never spend another cent on a video game? I don't like it one bit. It also seems like the game wouldn't have very high quality if it is really F2P. I guess there wouldn't be such a huge fuss about it if the quality was complete crap, right?

GhostHawk196
GhostHawk196

Let me translate this article:

"We've realised the promising potiential of increasing future cash flows by F2P from excellent companies namely Valve with their Team Fortress title and we would like to copy them to increase revenue for our company as well at the cost of breaching any business ethic possible. We've already attempted to copy their steam client with our Origin which in our opinion was very successful. We're recently disclosed information detailing the vast amount of users of our origin client, needless to say was quite an impressive figure. Without a doubt we were able to achieve a great number of users of our origin program when we force them to in order play amazing titles such as Mass Effect 3! I won't give too much detail regarding how our F2Ps in the future will be but you can expect that every feature will cost you something from your wallet with our F2Ps. We look forward to ripping you guys off in the future, get your wallets ready guys cause soon all your base are belong to us." - EA

iluvOP
iluvOP

Theres money to be had in "free 2 play" games. That smile of his reeks of "Yesss, give us your monieees"

keyb0red
keyb0red

the CEO looks like some evil End of Level Boss

xeoneex66
xeoneex66

I've been warning people for years now.. The next big gaming crash is coming... its on the horizon, just over yonder.....  Seroiusly we are heading for another game industry crash of 20xx.  Oversaturation of crap, its like a festering wound just waiting to burst forth and spew its no no juice all over us unsuspecting gamers...

FoxExecutive
FoxExecutive

Well this article has been real educational and all but I'll leave here with that old EA sports saying, " **** you EA."

xeoneex66
xeoneex66

Honestly, if they turn this into a F2P model I will never play/buy another EA game, and that includes Bioware.  Oh old school bioware WHERE HATH THOU GONE...

kave1793
kave1793

Free To Play = many costly micro-transactions

 

Why pay for a $65 game or $15 a month for a game they continually support when you can play a game for free that will end up costing you more in the long run..

rushad_patel
rushad_patel

You are Free to Pay us ..... errr sorry i mean Free to Play

bongsyas_23
bongsyas_23

free-to-play is the future.  why pay monthly to play a game when there are others you can play for free? no brainer

DrHyde
DrHyde

You know why the subscription model failed on SW:TOR? It wasn't because the game sucked compared to the KOTOR games (it did), it was because the game cost $50 in addition to its subscription fees. You're telling me I can pay $50 for a mediocre MMORPG and then pay each additional month to access a neverending game with a barely passable story and no end game content? Sign me right up!

 

Also, I believe the EA CEO might be Dr. Evil's long lost brother. Or at least cousin.

Maelsthur
Maelsthur

old idea, blizzard did it first on world of warcraft, just lets you leveling to 20 and then no moar level, "if you want moar buy the game son"

Nightelf123
Nightelf123

I rather play star wars 1313 than this game and wait for that until 2 years.

CruiserCaptain
CruiserCaptain

Yeah, I see the picture of this CEO and I think GAMER! He totally knows the market.

squall_83
squall_83

Is that image for the article actually the CEO for this company?!? Seriously, I realize that you shouldn't judge people by how they look, but that guy has NEVER played a game in his life. I bet he doesn't even know what a video game is. LOOK AT HIM! I bet, if we could see the rest of the picture, you'd see one hand in some kid's pants and the other hand holding a stack of 100 dollar bills. What a steaming pile of shit.

wezkilla
wezkilla

LOL picture for the article pure troll face LOL

Saintofwar
Saintofwar

As much as I wanted to love the game, it just got boring. F2P isn't enough sometimes.

rushad_patel
rushad_patel

I just feel after the launch of the free to play model on the OUYA, everyone wants to jump on the band wagon.

Sometimes I really loose credit to these large companies for lack in innovative business models.

 

blueboxdoctor
blueboxdoctor

I find it a lot easier and convenient to simply pay a flat fee and be on my way.  Having to think about which parts of a game I want to pay for makes it a lot less enjoyable.  I'm already annoyed I have to go out of my way to preorder AC3 for the Aztec Ruins section, let alone having this free to play nonsense (I can only imagine how it would work in a sports game, maybe having to pay to unlock the AFC and NFC for a Madden game).