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Windows EA announces its master plan

Discussion in 'Gaming' started by impar, 23 Jul 2008.

  1. impar

    impar Well-Known Member

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    Greetings!

    E3 perspective: An interview with John Riccitiello, CEO of Electronic Arts
    ...
    VB: Why are you doing some things like Nucleus (a community that connects gamers who play multiple EA games)? What is that heading toward?

    JR: There is a longer-term transition from a disk-based model for retail sales to an “average revenue per user” model. Five to seven years from now, investors will look at EA as how we have 100 million customers where we have an ARPU relationship that amounts to so many dollars a month. It’s different from selling so many disks a month at wholesale prices. It’s a gradual evolution. But we need the tools to be able to do that. The ARPU model is a better margin business for us. It’s less cyclical. It’s a better business. Some of our businesses have characteristics like that: EA Mobile, Pogo.com, and The Sims. We want to move in that direction. People predicted the demise of the DVD rental model for Blockbuster a long time ago. I don’t want to be the guy with a retail store renting DVDs in a world that has moved to Netflix and pay-per-view. We want to innovate and drive along that front, whether it’s with FIFA Online or Pogo or The Sims. Nucleus is a positive step in that direction. Spore has a download model. We could wait for someone else to eat our lunch or we could do it ourselves.


    So, expect to pay for play.
    Limited installations are here to stay, monthly fees to play online, paid downloadable content, EA Store and its limited download policy will continue, DRM will escalate, etc.
     
  2. CardJoe

    CardJoe Freelance Journalist

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    I fail to see the problem. That stuff is already here and it works fine. Pay to play online? Downloadable DLC? That stuff is all optional - as long as the base game is good and doesn't require additional content then I'm fine with that. It's just the evolution of the MMO and Expansion Pack model.

    Limited installations are an issue, but as long as EA responds to feedback and makes the process transparent and trustworthy then I'm fine with that too.

    To be honest, EA is changing a lot since Riccitiello took over and I think it's all for the better. Speaking to developers in and outside the company, they certainly seem to think so, so if EA is keen to grow (over the course of seven years) with the PC market to ensure that it can still profitably work within that market place then I'm all for that.

    What's the alternative? Big publishers either get scared of the PC because of problems like piracy (which are on consoles but are more widespread on PC) and back off and abandon the platform or they end up not really supporting PC games anyway and start focusing on consoles. That is the way that the market is going, as evidenced by the fact that games like Crysis, BioShock and so on (which both did and did not have limited installs, respectively) are underperforming on the PC. Look at the design of BioShock and how it's essentially a console game - its biggest flaw. Look at the disappointing (but steady) sales figures for UT3 or Crysis on PC.

    And yes, there is an option to go to Steam. Yes, we all love Steam. There are two problems though. Firstly, Steam does all this stuff anyway. Limited installs without checks, online checks, dedicated platforms, insta-bans for cheating and hidden, remote system monitoring. Valve does all this stuff already. The reason they get away with it is because they either hide it from you, or because gamers trust them. Over the next five to seven years EA is looking to earn that trust. Fair play. They haven't done it yet, but let's give them a fair chance not limited to just looking at Spore and Mass Effect, eh?

    Second problem is Valve itself. Valve is a developer and has been vocal on several occasions that it doesn't want to be the de factor platform for PC gaming. It just doesn't want to do it. It doesn't want to be a publisher. Valve wants to make games. Steam was created for Half-life, not for other publishers to swamp with other games.

    Also, nowhere there does he explicitly talk about pay-per-play models or anything of the sort in relation to games.

    If they don't improve their systems to my expectations, they'll die out simple as that. If they do, then good for them.
     
  3. ChromeX

    ChromeX New Member

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    Pffft... And here's me thinking EA's masterplan was world domination. :sigh:
     
  4. Jordan Wise

    Jordan Wise Baby called to see the boss...

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    Which is a shame, because its doing a fine job at the minute and with real drive behind it, it could become the main software distribution platform. Hell, i bet they could even hit other industrys and challenge itunes if they tried.
     
  5. CardJoe

    CardJoe Freelance Journalist

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    Agree, but the business model of Steam and Valve only works while Valve is as it is. If it keeps growing it'd be a dictator of the PC gaming market and while a benevolent dictator is good, it never lasts.
     
  6. DougEdey

    DougEdey I pwn all your storage

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    /me puts on pipe and slippers

    Do you guys remember the shoddy ways of finding games in the 90's?
     
  7. cjmUK

    cjmUK Old git.

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    Pay to play? That is the model that I fear the most.

    I remember one of the BF2 stats sites had an interesting metric: cost per hour. For me, it was around 10c per hour.

    Under EAs plans, that would be £10 per month regardless of how often I played. Then it will be another £10 for UbiSoft, and another £10 for....etc

    This whole piracy argument is b*llshit. Sure, I know it goes on, but amongst all my friends and extended family, there is not a single pirated game amongst us. I'm not in denial about piracy, but I simply don't believe it is the big factor that publishers make of it. The cost of producing games is vastly more expensive than it ever has been in the past, yet the publisher are still making big profits. But as with all corporations, profits are not enough; year-on-year growth is required - you can never have enough.

    I've got absolutely no problems with anti-piracy measures like limited installations, online activation and disk protection measures - providing they inconvenience the pirates and not the lawful buyers.

    To think back to the days when 50% of my C64 games were copied from my mates... I can't remember the last copied game I had. Probably a game on the original PS actually; if we are talking PC online, then it's back when I had a 512Kb GFX card (S3 Virge?).
     
  8. Cthippo

    Cthippo Can't mod my way out of a paper bag

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    EAs master plan? Keep making shitty re-makes of old games while avoiding anything that resembles innovation and whining about piracy when people refuse to buy your crap.

    This also means that they're going to quit making dedicatred single-player games since there is no ongoing revenue from them and instead focus pretty much exclusively on multi-player online.
     
    Last edited: 23 Jul 2008
  9. impar

    impar Well-Known Member

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    Greetings!
    Not necessarily.
    Imagine a single player FPS that only comes with a couple weapons in the original installation. Advanced weapons would be stored in EAs servers and only accessible to paying subscribers.
     
  10. Cthippo

    Cthippo Can't mod my way out of a paper bag

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    Until someone hacks them out and makes them widely available in a cracked version. I currently pay for all my software, but it's getting harder and harder to justify that stance. If things continue on the path they're on I will start pirating games and feel good about doing so.
     
  11. DarkLord7854

    DarkLord7854 New Member

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    What I really hate about EA is the fact that everything they do, they halfass it.. especially like their website.. I've yet to see a worse design for a website, its impossible to find your way around, and its even harder to find information about the EA downloader, and getting support for EA games is.. let's say you shouldn't even bother submitting a request for help because chances are they won't ever get back to you anyways. That and their software is a pain to use, and slow.
     
  12. CardJoe

    CardJoe Freelance Journalist

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    http://www.bit-tech.net/news/2008/03/06/piracy_sales_charts_revealed/1

    Though, yes, the EA website and download service is pretty awful.
     
  13. knuck

    knuck Hate your face

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  14. cjmUK

    cjmUK Old git.

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    It's not that simple. How many of those downloads were for evaluation? How many were to remove DRM? How many sales did this in fact generate? And most importantly, how many sales did EA lose (how many people who pirated the game would have otherwise bought a copy)?

    But beyond haggling about the numbers, the real issue (as I've already stated) is about money. Every business has expenses through 'wastage' (beers spilt in a pub/widgets that fails QA and are scrapped/products lost or damaged in transit/theft by employees). This is all factored into their costing and pricing regimes.

    Now obviously, a good business will improve P&L by trying to minimise cost, so having games publishers try to minimise piracy (by employing authentication methods and anti-copying technology) is a sensible course of action. And I don't think many gamers will object to that - providing it is done sensibly.

    But what the publishers are trying to do is to manipulate the way the market works (to provide a more favourable environment for themselves, at our expense) using piracy as their justification. In the same way, governments around the world are using terrorism to manipulate peoples fundamental rights and to change the political environment in their favour; e.g. ID cards have been touted as a solution for benefit fraud, terrorism and immigration, but indications are it won't be of benefit in any of these cases. Likewise, the 'energy crisis' and global warming has led to a big increase in tax, but the tax is not used to tackle said problem, it just goes straight into government coffers. Its social engineering courtesy of a perceived threat - I'm sure Nexxo has something to say on this...

    The current situation is that, in general, when we 'buy' a game, we actually buy some media, possibly a manual and the rights to play the game under certain conditions. What gamers really want is to be able to buy the game outright (with the restriction that it can't be copied) but with the freedom to mod it, sell it on etc. However what the industry wants is to move in the other direction, to an outright rental arrangement. Ideally the gamer would purchase the media & manual for £15 and then pay say £8/mo for the right to play the game. Thats £111 for year 1 compared to £30 (max) for a current 'purchase'. Add in extra payments for additional weapons, perks & skills, maps etc. It's a licence to print money.

    Personally, I buy games for £25, play them and either keep them for a few years (BF2, TF2, etc) or sell them on once completed (Bioshock, Mass Effect etc). Most purchases I make are subsidised by the sale of a previous purchase.

    There is nothing wrong with any publisher trying it on, but ordinarily the market would reject it (- that said, I'm still astounded that anyone pays £x per mo for the sub-standard game that is Wow - clearly a sizeable group think differently). But by conditioning us that this is all to prevent publishers going belly-up because of piracy, the regulators and most punters are going to be sleep-walked into new, more prohibitive and more expensive arrangements if we want to continue playing games.

    The bottom line is that publisher are making a fortune despite piracy, but they are hoping to use this over-stated 'evil' to manipulate the market in their favour.
     
  15. impar

    impar Well-Known Member

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    Greetings!
    In Spore, you purchase the original DVD, then you purchase the expansions packs (EA expects Spore to be a cash cow for the next 10 years), once you reach the activations limits of the original or the expansions packs will you be contacting EA every other month to be able to play fully the game you purchased?
    Will you contact EA Support via e-mail, online ticket or by phone?
    How often do you change hardware in your system? Re-install OS? Crate new Windows user accounts?
     
  16. liratheal

    liratheal Sharing is Caring

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    Honestly?

    I'm more trusting of EA ever since Riccitiello took the reigns. I didn't like, and still don't like, the idea of having to activate every ten days, simply because the process is going to be complete ass the first few games, while they iron out the bugs - Which is fair enough, it'd be damned difficult to test run activation of hundreds of thousands of keys from all over the globe, and totally unrealistic to expect them to do it right first time around.

    Limited installations is a pain for some people, but it's not like it's a murderous process to go through. I've been through the MS re-activation system numerous times at work, and if they can get it right, I'm sure EA can pull it off.

    Piracy is an issue for a number of games - There is no argument that it isn't. What gets me is how many people try to hide behind the 'I can't afford it' excuse.

    EG: Crysis. Supposedly quite a pirated game. As everyone knows, very high system requirements. I'd be willing to bet that a huge number of those people pirating it also have the kind of rig that can run the game and are still claiming it's too expensive. That's where I run out of rope with pirates. Things are coming down, places are cottoning onto the fact that digital distribution is picking up (And a few places are picking it up sans DRM, which is nice).

    The 'I can't afford it' excuse is wearing thin - Especially when they can afford to have high end internet connections, large drives (Which are admittedly cheap) for storing all this crap, but can't shell out £30-£40 for a game on PC? I can't find a big enough bag of '**** off' for that excuse anymore.

    Anyway. Paying monthly for gaming? It's already been done, MMO's, Xbox Live etc. It's not new, but it is the way it's going.

    If they get the pricing right, and get the inevitable bugs with the activation system ironed out quickly, then I'm game.

    Pricing wise, I'd want to see something like a tiered monthly subscription. You pay X amount per month, you're entitled to X games and after X months you can keep the games even if you cancel your subscription. Should you want to cancel your subscription you have the option to 'buy' the remaining costs of the games you want to keep.

    So, say you get five games and you pay £15 a month, you cancel after two months, but want to keep one of the games, you pay X amount and keep said game. Keep the records of what games you bought stored for X number of years so should you resubscribe you're entitled to get those games back without impacting the number of games per month you get on your payment tier. Obviously, being allowed to buy additional games should one month have more than the games you initially subscribed to, but that's where it gets too complicated for me to start imagining cost etc.

    No idea if that makes sense to anyone but me, but hey.
     
  17. impar

    impar Well-Known Member

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    Greetings!
    The 10-days re-authentication was canned. Believe it was only announced as a smoke screen for when EA cancelled it, EA looked good in the picture.
     
  18. CardJoe

    CardJoe Freelance Journalist

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    That isn't entirely true and I know for a fact that EA is actually trying to figure out what sort of expansions they could offer with Spore as the content is all user created. If they haven't finalised that yet, I doubt they've finalised anything beyond.
     
  19. liratheal

    liratheal Sharing is Caring

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    Oh, I know it was canned - But I'm still not a fan of reactivating constantly :p
     
  20. cjmUK

    cjmUK Old git.

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    This doesn't make sense. Why would any publisher implement a subscription system that you simply could opt out of it you were prepared to pay a fee for the games.

    The idea behind game subscriptions is that you have to pay your £xx per month to play the game, whether you play every day or whether you play once a month. You pay, you can play. If you end your subscription, you can't play the games.
     
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