All EA Games Will Have Microtransactions, Dev Costs Will Rise 10%

By William Usher 2013-02-27 09:19:18 discussion comments
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Sometimes there are things happening in the gaming industry that just make you want to shake your fist at the screen and say “Why you pesky little money critter, I wish I could just shake your shoulders 'till the cents roll out.” But in the real world we have to settle for grumbling and complaining on forums and comment sections, and this is one of those times.

Electronic Arts made a few startling remarks in a recent investors meeting where they confirmed that next-gen game development will rise between 5% and 10% and they also mentioned that all of their games will have some form of microtransaction available, ala Dead Space 3.

Both PlayStation Lifestyle and VG 24/7 have a detailed rundown of EA's investors meeting, where EA's financial officer Blake Jorgensen stated...
“We are building into all of our games the ability to pay for things along the way; to get to a higher level. And consumers are enjoying and embracing that way of business.”

“If you’re doing microtransactions and you’re processing credit cards for every one of those microtransactions you’ll get eaten alive. And so [CTO, Rajet Teneja]’s team has built an amazing backend to manage that and manage that much more profitably. We’ve outsourced a lot of that stuff historically; we’re bringing that all in-house now.”

This shouldn't be too shocking to most gamers, but this really does beg the obvious question: What's the point of playing a game if you have to pay to progress through the game? I know we're all short on time but it seems unbelievably silly to pay $60 for a 40 hour game where you pay an additional $100 to zoop to the end as quick as possible. I mean, really, what's the point?

Anyway, the other disturbing thing mentioned in the meeting was that Jorgensen mentioned...
“We no longer have to constrain our games. 1080p, 60FPS… [there will be a] level of gameplay that is unprecedented.”

“[Regarding development] what used to take months in the past will now take days to do” [due to consoles being more like PCs].”

“100mil [has been spent on next gen] R&D. [EA will] moderate costs through cutbacks.“

”[There will be] 5-10% increase in cost [of next gen development]… “but cost will increase in the future as the games get bigger.”

So let's get this straight here: Developers are no longer constrained by hardware limitations and don't need to spend as much time optimizing for age-old tech. The new software tools, middleware and console architecture enable for much faster development cycles and streamlined workrates, and yet EA is expecting to spend more?

EA's outline for a lot of the things seemed very counterproductive, as if they're approaching making video games the way Apple makes smartphones; just because you dump a lot of money into the production doesn't mean there's going to be big returns on the investment.

Sony's outline for development cycles and pricing makes a lot more sense. Keeping the door open for big and small projects alike and encouraging developers to fill the voids between indie titles like Journey and AAA titles like Uncharted 3.

According to EA, they will be outputting fewer titles but they will make them bigger.

In some regards, I imagine big publishers may become dinosaurs during this emerging generation if they continue to compete by simply licking dollar bills and throwing them at a wall, hoping something sticks.

You can check out the rest of what was covered in the meeting over at PlayStation Lifestyle.
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