EA is spending big cheese in order to become a major entity in the smartphone, tablet, and social sectors of the market. With this in mind, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to hear an EA executive say, “Hey, we’re into this smart devices and the Web.” But the way that EA is attempting to dive in differs from its competition.
The other week, Take-Two’s CEO said that phone games, for it, weren’t meaningful in terms of returns. It would like to, actually, see the prices of tablet games raised. EA, on the other hand, is building its AAA-tier console and PC titles with an eye towards the App Store and other places from the get-go.
“We've been changing the way we develop games so that we can have them on smartphone, tablets, in addition to console and PC,” EA Games label manager Frank Gibaue told GI.biz in a brand new interview.
“It's all part of the digital transition that we're going through and Origin is the platform on which we'll be able to publish and service customers on mobile as well as PC platforms. And then link to the consoles in unique ways as they develop.”
You’ve heard of Origin before. It’s EA’s new digital distribution service. The PC version of the software is available now. An App Store equivalent is in the works.
Origin for PC, thus far, is rocking the PC digital download boat in all the wrong ways. As opposed to being a valid alternative for a compelling reason, it’s simply the de facto place to download new EA-published games. Crysis 2, for example, was pulled from Steam as the service launched, as well as Alice: The Madness Returns. Battlefield 3 is looking like it won’t appear on other platforms as well. The Star Wars MMO won’t for sure.
Free-to-play, which has become a favorite topic of ours in our most recent podcasts since Eli fell in love with League of Legends, is also going to be a part of this new initiative to reach everyone, though we’re not sure on the specifics -- we just know, for now, that Gibeau was name-dropping it in a recent interview alongside smartphone games.
"Launch some new services like Star Wars that are unique, and in addition to that do a bunch of free-to-play businesses, that frankly when they get to scale, have huge audiences, are very profitable, they're not cannibalising the main games and they actually reach markets that we're not currently serving,” he said in the same interview.
“With Need for Speed World, Russia and Brazil are number one and two - the Ukraine is in there. I can't sell packaged goods in those territories. But I'm reaching an audience with Need for Speed content. It's an engine that's not as advanced as Frostbite 2 but it's certainly got great production values and great game designs, and it's free-to-play with micro transactions. It's a very exciting time from our perspective because it's not all about consoles. It's about smartphones, tablets, free-to-play, browser, social.”
So what’s new in the world of EA? Video games on our phones -- and possibly more F2P ones, since they have a longer tail and reach a broader audience. Also, Origin. Makes you wonder if we’ll start getting App Store titles with all three of these things combined into one package.