'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.

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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.

Discussion

0 comments
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.

SkiloSP
SkiloSP

 @LindBergh2007 So when you mention that Capcom will succeed at F2P you mean like the constant barrage of DLC characters they have that you must purchase will go away?  How about FFXI the "most sucessful" Final Fantasy game is still after 10 years pay to play.  FFIVX is only F2P cause it was such a poor excuse for a game they couldn't charge people to play it.

Undietaker
Undietaker

 @sauron210

 Ohh believe me it's a really bad sign when the big publishers start pushing f2p, everyone in the industry knows there's a lot more potential revenue in it. These guys see f2p as "you can try the game for free, then pay through the nose to be good once you're hooked"...

Cruisemissile
Cruisemissile

 @IanNottinghamX Hell no! I would'nt trust him to be my partner co op partner in a game yet alone trust him not to screw over gamers!

Dareitus
Dareitus

 @ChemicalReaper 2 Million x 60 = 120 Million in sales Revenue (not including Collectors editions)1.7 Million x 15 x 3 Months = 76.5 Million in early Sub fees1.3 Million x 15 x 4 Months =  78 Million in late Sub feesSo SWTOR has made  $275 Million Dollars since release, not including Special Editions, Security Keys, Keyboards and Headsets, and other random SWTOR branded shit they made money off of. Yeah, total failure right there. o.0

ArcherRO
ArcherRO

 @gMcR I think he meant there's power in ftp for them.

cyberarmy
cyberarmy

 @megatronx2 Stop giving them ideas dude...

They are already considering to sell ammo...

stefan_931
stefan_931

 @Suaron_x Is it not EAs way to take stuff that have worked in the past and use it again? In my opinion it was an iditoic gamble, if they had redone it from scratch then more player would have taken a shine to it!

 

That pic remind me of the horror stories I heard when I was a kid....

Crimson_Erskine
Crimson_Erskine

 @Suaron_x Tera and Secret World are different and neither has the sub base of SWTOR so that shoots your theory down.  People throw money at anything with CoD logo on it and that hasn't been new in a decade. There is nearly no rhyme of reason to what is popular or what bombs.  

Enundr
Enundr

 @Suaron_x you hit the nail on the head there Suaron , EA could never fully grasp a Guild Wars F2P model , and with how vastly improved GW2 is going to be , i somewhat doubt his F2P model (microtrans out the wazoo) will save the game or any game EA ever makes , unless its some sport game i guess , since for some reason thats their biggest franchise that ppl seem to still like the most XD. and as for the face comment , dont get me started on the kind of messages i could label on the picture as his thoughts XD . but yea your right about that as one of them haha.

fiendless7
fiendless7

 @Suaron_x this is the kind of face i would expect to see running the greediest, and worst customer service company in the world.

rebelde01
rebelde01

 @Dareitus You are forgetting taxes in your calculations and the fact they had about $200 millions of production costs to cover. Their profit was very small compared to the money invested, but that had more to do with the game flaws than the subscription model.

raahsnavj
raahsnavj

 @cyberarmy Ammo that in the first game was unlimited. Luckily progression in the ME universe when backward and forced everyone to clip hunt at the end of every battle. Yep... I wouldn't worry about them thinking up any good ideas and if they pick up the bad ones maybe people will quit wasting their time with this crap and play some good games instead of hyped games. 

Suaron_x
Suaron_x

 @Crimson_Erskine SWTOR is different.  It was produced with a huge budget and uses a well known IP.  SWTOR was promoted for years prior to release.  For SWTOR to be successful, it had to average around 4-5 million subscribers for roughly 5 years. 

Dareitus
Dareitus

Actually SWTOR has more followers because it's a better game. Just Metacritic alone says its better than Tera and Secret World, why shouldn't the player numbers match that? SWTOR is far from a WoW clones like you GW2-Hypers seem to think. Yeah, its an MMO with hotbar-skills. So is pretty much every other MMO (Even Tera and Secret World which are "different" according to you). 

Enundr
Enundr

 @Crimson_Erskine  @Suaron_x again , there are never that many players even on TOR even at peak hours. but yes some ppl blindly throw money at stuff like what EA does.

Crimson_Erskine
Crimson_Erskine

 @Enundr you overestimate GW2 a bit. It will be a decent game, with a tight following like GW1 had, but the game itself is already being attacked.  It will be bombarded just like the other MMO releases until its beaten down by the WoW thugs.

Deadly_Nemesis
Deadly_Nemesis

   @Suaron_x

This is the kind of face you would see helping Cheney come up with that "I thought he was a Quail" story.

Cruisemissile
Cruisemissile

 @rebelde01 They said they would be fine at 500k subs but are complaining, now that they have double that! 

Enundr
Enundr

 @Dareitus i didnt see GW1 do badly , infact it had what , 3 expansions ? you are an idiot

Dareitus
Dareitus

OMG everything's a WoW clone and GW2 is going to save the world!You guys sound like morons and when the hype machine of fail that is GW2 drops you'll be sorely disappointed, just like everyone was with GW1.  

Enundr
Enundr

 @Crimson_Erskine honestly i feel like the numbers Blizz says for active subscribers is far less then it actually is , and some of them being the Gold Sellers main accounts where they store all the gold. literally wow is dead and only filled with tanks / healers that have that superior attitude ego having ppl bend over backwards for them.

Enundr
Enundr

 @Crimson_Erskine theres not that many wow thugs left if you even scope their servers , all it is , is a bunch of ppl that sit afk in org and sw lol but i have been converting alot of wow players while waiting for my sub to expire / waiting for GW2 , and as i said , everything ive seen in beta , freaking love it. the combat doesnt suck , pvp is actually more balanced than alot of MMOs ive seen recently , and the WvW pvp generally s***s on every other pvp ive seen. if you feel like comparing GW2 pvp to WoW pvp , i have yet to see someone with the capability to nearly 1 shot someone in GW2 , where in WoW you could be in the 70s bracket in a BG and watch as a warrior runs around 1-2 shotting ppl left and right like its a shooter with unbelievably less skill then one.