EA Supports Free-To-Play Model

It’s interesting to look at how different the state of gaming is viewed in North America as opposed to Asia. While in Asia, the free-to-play market is massive, with gamers clamoring for games and shelling out for micro-transactions, the concept just hasn’t caught-on in North America.

While there have been minor successes with games such as Battlefield Heroes showing that they can grab a share of the gaming market and Company Of Heroes moving to a free-to-play format, these successes have been few and far between.

Recently though, Ben Cousins, the general manager of Easy Studios – EA’s free-to-play game branch – expressed his opinions on the current state and cost of gaming:

“I can’t think of anything more exploitative than gating all of your content behind having to pay someone $60. That’s a really harsh business model if you think about it objectively. What we do is enable everyone to play the game, and figure out if they like it. If they don’t like it they can walk away and they don’t lose anything.”

While it’s no surprise that EA seems to be leaning toward a greater focus on free-to-play games, evident in their inclusion of Battlefield Heroes in large promotions like the EA Gun Club, it’s still interesting to hear the views expressed publicly. EA is known, in part, for charging full price each year for new sports game iterations – which rarely differ much from their predecessors. While these sports games are not a part of Easy Studios, could this still mean that EA is in the process of modifying their business plan?

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The idea of free-to-play gaming is definitely intriguing, but one that North American gamers have not yet taken hold of. This could be due to the fact that many gamers see this business model as a way of making even more money for a particular company – while sacrificing quality. While the games are free, in the long run through micro-transactions, it’s easy for games to become more expensive than the $60 price tag they would have had.

This then begs the question: is this model essentially the same as releasing a demo/free version of the game – but then charging players to fully enjoy it (as you would by going to the store and purchasing the retail edition). While free-to-play games may seem tantalising at first glance, it’s difficult to tell how much money the game will require in order to enjoy it – in the long run. At least with a static price tag of $60, the gamer is fully aware of what they are receiving, and for how much money, instead of risking having to pay an even greater amount in micro-transactions – to get a full experience from a free-to-play game.

What are your thoughts on free-to-play games? Would you rather pay $60 for a full game or have to rely on micro-transactions in order to get the full experience out of a game?

Source: Rock Paper Shotgun

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