EA: Item sales more important than advertising

Virtual goods are much more important for free-to-play titles than in-game and display advertising, according to the megapublisher.

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Speaking at yesterday's London Games Conference, two senior executives within EA made it clear that display advertising was not going to be key to the success of their free-to-play titles, though there was a future for in-game advertising to become an important revenue source.

Ben Cousins, head of EA's Easy division, said that at the launch of Battlefield Heroes, the virtual goods market was in its infancy and the company hedged its bets with an attempt to integrate advertising into the platform. As time wore on, it was worked out that advertising items available for purchase in-game would generate 300 times the revenue that selling the space to external advertisers would.

John Earner, general manager of European studios for Playfish, a recently acquired EA subsidiary that focuses on Facebook games, was similarly skeptical about the value of display advertising. However, Earner suggested that within two years, 20 percent of his firm’s revenue would come from in-game advertising through branded product placement and other similar virtual goods.

This view was not limited to EA either. Floris Jan Cuypers, business development director for Spil Games, a Dutch portal that currently generates most of its revenue through advertising, agreed. "User paid will be the bigger part," he said.

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