If you are among the many that are highly critical of EA (2017 has made it very easy to, honestly), then a new interview CEO Andrew Wilson where he discussed the possibility of the publisher relying on online updates or subscriptions instead of releasing a new annual version of its titles might not change your opinion of it.
The comment came in the midst of an interview with Bloomberg where Wilson cited the shift from physical to digital sales as the crux of his reasoning.
“There’s a world where it gets easier and easier to move that code around — where we may not have to do an annual release. We can really think about those games as a 365-day, live service.”
“There’s a world not too far away from now where video games move from being a discrete, conscious experience to an indiscreet, subconscious experience.”
The topic here is one that has been increasingly common in recent months: games as a service. Of course, EA already has a subscription-based service, EA Access, where customers access to a bunch of different titles from its back catalog and gain early access to new ones. So the concept itself isn’t exactly foreign.
What will be interesting to see is how far EA will take its subscription-based model should the publisher go through with its plans.
In the interview, Wilson was talking about titles such as Madden NFL and FIFA which get released annually. If they alone were relegated to online updates, then there shouldn’t be too many issues. Some have already questioned why EA doesn’t just update a roster at the start of a new season and make the appropriate changes when necessary. In fact, it has already done this with Madden NFL Mobile for the past three years and Wilson notes that the game’s user base continues to grow.
However, we’ll be entering a completely new territory if this model includes titles like Dragon Age or Star Wars Battlefront. Will users need to subscribe to EA Access in order to buy them or is membership required to continue playing them? A one-time payment is one thing, but people will definitely be up in arms if you have to pay a monthly or annual fee.
This is something that is sure to come up again in the future. A shift towards digital sales is a reality and you can be sure that many publishers are looking at ways to adjust — EA is just the first to be vocal about it.
Check out the full interview here.