From Season’s Passes for DLC that is oftentimes hidden on a game disc or ready at launch alongside the “core” game, and online passes required to play a game you purchased online to in-game microtransactions for things that used to be accessible for free or via a code, Electronic Arts has had its hands pushing the envelope in monetizing video games.
It absolutely sucks for gamers most of the time and when the gaming community is forced to accept these modern gaming realities (look at what Oblivion’s horse armor led to), even the ones deemed “optional,” it becomes a new and dangerous (for your wallet) precedent. And it’s not going away.
Gears of War began charging money for colored guns in a $60 game in its third installment, something that used to be the sorta built-in customization option in an already expensive game. Mass Effect 3 added a co-op mode that had built-in microtransactions for loot that otherwise would take hours and hours and hours to unlock (by design, mind you) and the latest news on EA and BioWare’s next venture, Dragon Age: Inquisition, is that the game will include microtransactions as well. Even the next Assassin’s Creed by Ubisoft has microtransactions. It really does suck.
But for the big publishers, it’s sucking money from your bank accounts into theirs and that’s why EA is on track to break a company record in potentially earning $1 billion in revenue from DLC. In an Bloomberg feature on the release of Madden NFL 15 (read our review!) and the inordinate amount of microtransactions in the game (there’s one for $99!), it’s made clear that much of the revenue from EA’s sports releases comes from charging extra for in-game items instead of include them in the main game. This isn’t new and fans will be familiar with the Ultimate Team system – a mode that may earn EA Sports a whopping $50 million alone, according to an estimate by industry analyst Doug Creutz from Cowen & Co.
Cowen & Co estimates that he “extra content” EA is charging in their lineup of 2014 releases could bring in a billion dollars this year, a new record for EA in an age where the current-gen gaming platforms are pushing digital content more than ever, much of which are considered add-ons.
Surprised? Where there’s demand there’s supply I suppose. Video gaming can be an expensive hobby.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes.