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EA Investigating "Free-to-Start" Console Games

In the future, players will expect games to be free-to-start, EA CEO Andrew Wilson says.

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Today during an earnings call, Electronic Arts CEO Andrew Wilson spoke about the major role free-to-play experiences may play in the future of the company's console games. EA already has significant free-to-play businesses on PC and mobile, but how does the publisher view the business model for consoles? That's exactly what one analyst asked Wilson today during the briefing.

Wilson replied by saying that, in the future, he thinks gamers--trained by media like TV, books, and music--will expect console games to be available, at least to start, for free, and then pay later. As such, Wilson said EA is "actively" investigating how it can meet this consumer desire with its future console projects.

"On free-to-play, with consoles, we think about this much the way that we think about free-to-play overall. There's a couple of different vectors to this," Wilson said. "The first is as we look to the future, we believe a very big part of our player-base will expect a free-to-start experience. When we look at film, television, music, books, very often there is this free trial notion that actually onboards new players, new listeners, new readers, or new viewers into a service. We're actively looking at how we could offer that type of experience to our players on console and across other platforms."

EA, of course, isn't planning to just give its future console games away in this scenario. Wilson went on to say that the next step would be to offer the free-to-start player a full-game download, microtransaction, or a subscription--or maybe all three. The executive explained that he hopes to offer all three business model options across console and other platforms in the future.

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