EA, in typical fashion, seems to have caught on to the online component and the current rise in popularity free-to-play games and want to run with it as far as possible. Though this may be a sign that they are overzealous. Regardless, the Escapist details EA’s plans to ensure that every title released from them is online and free-to-play:
“Electronic Arts COO Peter Moore says connectivity and free-to-play are going to be ‘part and parcel’ of every major franchise in the company’s stable.
There was a time, long, long ago, when a studio made a game and released it, and gamers purchased the game and played it, and if all went well they looked forward to the sequel and played something else in the meantime. It was a simple system, for a simpler era; but times have changed, and Moore says the days of ‘fire-and-forget’ game development are over forever […]
The same thing holds true of always-on gaming, which Moore said is now a part of everything EA does. ‘We don’t ship a game at EA that is offline. It just doesn’t happen,’ he said. ‘And gamers either want to be connected, so that your stats and your achievements and whatever you do certainly reflect who you are, or you want the full multiplayer experience on top of that. We don’t deliver offline experiences anymore [….]'”
Admittedly, always-online, DRM, and other facets are inevitable, they quite literally represent the future of gaming. Anyone who is involved in PC gaming to even the mildest degree is already entrenched in these methods of distribution and operation, and it works out rather well.
Valve’s online distribution system, Steam, is of course the best and most notable example, offering consistent sales and fair prices.
The issue, however, could be one of flooding yet another market. When smartphone and mobile gaming first came onto the scene, many developers and companies declared that they were going to focus primarily on that particular market, with Square Enix offering a notable example.
What did not change were their tactics and pricing strategy, and EA’s apparent fervor to get involved in the free-to-play market signals much of the same thing. EA is nothing if not willing to shortchange the consumer at every turn for a few potential dollars. Similar to the controversy which occurred with Mass Effect 3’s From Ashes DLC, along with the superfluous online multiplayer mode and cash shop, it is highly unlikely that anyone would be surprised if such stringent blocking of integral user content and overt microtransactions in future titles as well.
As to what EA has to lose or gain from this “bold step forward” has yet to be seen, however.