EA Not Entirely Embracing F2P

Jason Winter
By Jason Winter, News Editor

I know, the title above sounds like a contradiction to this article from last month. But when we're talking about Electronic Arts, contradictions seem to be the norm, not the exception. (“Discounts devalue our games. BTW, did you see this week's discounted games on Origin?”)

EA Studios boss Patrick Söderlund thinks free-to-play and full-price games can coexist on consoles but also spared some breath to criticize certain F2P models, especially on mobile platforms, saying:

Sometimes when I play freemium games on mobile I feel ‘these guys just want more money.’ When I pay $60 for Battlefield, I know what I am getting. And I think there are players that prefer that. And it’s not a case of one or another, they can both exist and there may be hybrids too.

His other language – referring to F2P games being “different in nature to full games” (emphasis mine) – seems to reflect a demeaning attitude toward F2P games, signifying that they're not as complete as games you pay $60 for up front.

He's not altogether wrong, especially when it comes to mobile games that let you play for three minutes before you run out of energy, lives, or whatever and have to input your credit-card numbers to continue. Or they introduce a microtransaction that's actually very macro and then backpedal when called on their bullshit.

But I also think that comparing a AAA console title like Battlefield 4 to a free game by some indie studio on the App Store is a false comparison that too many people – whether they generally like or dislike free-to-play – make too often. It's like comparing a Lamborghini Diablo to a Honda Civic. Both are cars, yes, but the owner of one should have vastly different expectations than the owner of the other. If the Civic owner wants his car to perform like a Diablo, well, is that the Honda corporation's fault?

If I can find the silver lining in Söderlund's words, I'd like to think that they say this: that EA recognizes there are “good” free-to-play models for consoles and there are “bad” free-to-play models for consoles. Ideally, this would mean that they're going to try and do the former while avoiding the latter. While you might think that everything EA does falls squarely in the “bad” category, you should really take a look at some of the awful things that are out there that don't hold a candle to the worst transgressions found in Star Wars: The Old Republic or Need For Speed World.

Not that I'm apologizing for EA's policies. The company still has a long ways to go before it can be considered as user-friendly in its F2P games as companies like Riot or Wargaming, or even with its “full price” games. (First-day DLC, anyone?) And, while they don't completely dismiss the concept of F2P gaming, Söderlund's statements come across as the slightest bit sales-y, in that he promotes his company's $60 games while poo-pooing the competition's “free” offerings. Not exactly the way to show us how much you embrace the New Thing.

But it's nice to see that even a behemoth such as EA can see that change is in the air. Whether they feel threatened by it or whether they embrace it will be a major ongoing story in gaming over the next decade.

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About the Author

Jason Winter
Jason Winter, News Editor

Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.

More Stories by Jason Winter

Discussion (17)

Dood 10 years ago
F2P is just a gimmick to grab more people. When you have to pay more than sixty to be able to actually have a game equal to that of sixty dollars. There's a problem.

EA will keep doing its thing because their drones continue to buy into it. And to be perfectly honest those triple A titles should be renamed triple C titles for how cliche they are. How they even got to top of the line is beyond me with how terrible they actually are. But hey, they spend big bucks for a nice golden pile of poop it has to be good. Right?

Madao 10 years ago
Its just someones opinion... How can i agree with that? i cant..
mmobomb became opinion based.... I will read 1-10 more articles in upcoming days and unsubscribe. I need more plain text not someones thoughts

Sorry :p

View 2 replies
Tripred 10 years ago
It's sad to say but I actually kind of agree with EA about those freemium mobile apps. First of all, like 99.9% of all these "free" apps are almost exactly like a 100 others that already exist. Some apps are better than others but sometimes it's really crazy how greedy these small apps can be just for speeding up a building process or something.
I understand that these apps are mostly by Indie developers, but to me that is no excuse. Instead of making games that can be enjoyable and unique and still make profit they're lazy and make these games just because they know it will make money. When they actually earn all that money many times they just go to making another app just like it with a "new" idea that's been used a million times before.
To me, if I ever achieve my dream of becoming a (Indie) video game designer, I would rather quit for life than to make a game just for profit which many companies have sadly forgotten that this is not the purpose of games.

UrielLocke 10 years ago
I find EA's free to play in ToR a joke. I subbed for a year and the game went free to play. I stopped subbing and lost just about everything. Including the things in my storage...

That being said, I am not bashing on BioWare, at all. BioWare was a great company before EA bought them out. Being the gamer that I am. I play a wide verity of games. From MMO's to FPS and RPG's. Seeing as how many MMO's are going free to play I have tried many of them out.

The fact that EA seems to penalize it's free to play gamers is ridiculous and annoying at best. It's like I am playing tic-tac-toe with a computer. I want the feeling of an open world and the ability to do what ever I please in a game. EA's games are so linear it's predictable. Games shouldn't seem like I am grinding for hours. Yet in ToR it did.

Seeing EA do what they do best. (which is rob gamers blind) Is sad. Yeah they are the largest game publisher in the US. Yes they own dozens of other companies who create games. Yet should I as a gamer. Feel the greed of EA rip the pennies form my pocket? Not all of us gamers have the money to fork out for a 50 to 60 dollar game. We have bills to pay and new consoles to but or upgrades for our computers. So why does EA milk us for money?

ToR was a good game, it really was. Yet once the in game Cartel Market launched. It became pay to win. When a Lvl 1 characters had better gear than my Lvl 30 at the time there was a problem.

To me EA's F2P system is a joke. I can get a better experience from Forsaken World, Rift, or the late great City of Heroes, or any other F2P MMO.

I have been playing MMO's for a long time. I have been a gamer even longer than that. Yet EA seems to think that just because of their name and a few good game franchises that they have the ability to milk the gamer community for money. It is as if EA forgot how they got to be what they are.

Season passes and DLC is good but having to pay more for every little add on. Why would I have to pay to get the BFG in Doom? Or why would I have to pay to get a crowbar in Half-Life? Micro transactions are kinda a joke really. They use them to milk us (gamers) and to make us (gamers) feel that we need this to survive in the game.

I understand that some of you may not agree with me. Some of you may bash me, but gaming is about one thing. Gaming... Enjoying the game and playing through it like crazy. EA seems to have forgotten that sadly. Not micro transactions or buying Season passes or DLC.

simi4n 10 years ago
yeah ea yeah...you pay 60$ for a game BUT after the dlc and etc etc and you end up paying about 120$ and all game what they publish is a bugfest

Razer 10 years ago
EA shouldn't be casting the first stone here, but the games in the mobile market really are on a different level. When was the last time you ever heard of someone blowing $1200 in a matter of minutes on a Korean MMO? Other than the spoiled brats of a rich oil baron, that would be never.

View 2 replies
Kretza 10 years ago
Remember when Battlefield: Heroes attracted millions and one could have fun?

Guess what happened.

View 1 reply
Too late to mount.....or is it 10 years ago
Stopped reading at EA.

Ascending Turtle 10 years ago
"While you might think that everything EA does falls squarely in the “bad” category, you should really take a look at some of the awful things that are out there that don’t hold a candle to the worst transgressions found in Star Wars: The Old Republic or Need For Speed World."

Wait, Doesn't EA publish SW:ToR? So EA's bad models can't hold a candle to EA's models?

View 1 reply
Treemanic 10 years ago
Hahaha, change is in the air? Ya right.

The mount of mounters 10 years ago
I declare this forum post mounted by Sir Reginald

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