Electronic Arts has made the announcement that it will be implementing microtransactions for every upcoming EA game – every single game it makes in the future.
In a speech at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference, transcribed by Seeking Alpha, CFO Blake Jorgensen explained the plan.
“The next and much bigger piece [of the business] is microtransactions within games,” he revealed. “We’re building into all of our games the ability to pay for things along the way, either to get to a higher level to buy a new character, to buy a truck, a gun, whatever it might be, and consumers are enjoying and embracing that way of the business.”
However, Jorgensen also pointed out that it’s not quite as simple as letting people buy a gun or costume whenever they feel like it.
“We’ve got to have a very strong back-end to make sure that we can operate a business like that. If you’re doing microtransactions and you’re processing credit cards for every one of those microtransactions, you’ll get eaten alive. And so Rajat’s [Taneja, EA Global CTO] team has built an amazing back-end to be able to manage that and manage it much more profitably. We’ve outsourced a lot of that stuff, historically. We’re bringing that all in-house now.”
The plan might be a popular move with investors, but much of EA’s core audience has yet to be convinced, with fans reacting poorly to the inclusion of microtransactions in EA’s recent Dead Space 3. However, as both Jorgensen and Taneja were keen to point out, other major EA franchises such as FIFA, Battlefield and The Simpsons: Tapped Out, already reap huge financial benefits from granulated payment scales.
In questions following the presentation, Jorgensen quashed rumors that EA’s non-attendance at Sony’s PS4 announcement meant that it wasn’t interested in the platform, perhaps because of the machine’s download focus.
“At the end of the day, we do think there’s going to be more digital business and digital download business. But a lot of it will depend on when we release titles, when Sony and Microsoft choose to release titles. And in no way do we want to see the retail channel disappear. We think that’s an important part of the overall industry and we want to keep that a vibrant channel for us long term as well. So it’s balancing all of those. But without a doubt, you’re going to see more digital business and particularly more digital components of the gameplay allowed because the ease of it will be much better and the storage capability better.”
This news makes perfect sense to me. Microtransactions typically deal with small units of content which are easy to create and easy to propagate through the development pipeline. EA is now congealing their strategy around this concept which has applied to smaller, ‘freemium’ style games in the past.
Recently, Dead Space 3 players uncovered an item-spawning glitch that was used to farm unlimited resources. This meant those players didn’t need to buy any upgrades from EA. Dead Space 3 is the first game in the series to include micro-transactions.
The payment system also appeared last year in EA-published title Mass Effect 3, allowing players to buy reinforcement packs for the game’s multiplayer portion. Ubisoft-published Assassin’s Creed 3 included a similar system for that game’s multiplayer section.