The founder of mobile games firm Ngmoco has said that EA is best positioned to face the transition from boxed sales to digital downloads.
Neil Young – also a former EA Los Angeles executive – claimed that publishers such as Activision are doing a worse job of preparing a strong digital arm.
“The companies that are not doing a good job of managing the transition will find themselves in a really difficult place,” he told Industry Gamers.
“Electronic Arts is doing the best job of managing the transition and I think other incumbents like Take-Two and Rockstar Games, Activision or THQ are doing a much, much worse job.
“I really only see EA understanding that digital distribution and free-to-play and virtual goods-driven models are the direction things are headed. For all the shit that EA gets, I think they’re by far in the best position to come out of this transition in good shape.”
Young also said that a successful free-to-play rival to Activision’s huge Call of Duty FPS franchise could force the publisher to drastically alter its business model. This currently involves releasing a new boxed instalment annually and regularly updating it with paid-for DLC such as map packs.
“It’s conceivable to me that somebody could build a competitive product to a Call of Duty and give it away for free,” he added.
“That would just so completely undermine Activision’s business model that the industry would change. There’s a good example of how 'free' can disrupt businesses.
“[Maybe] we’re going to see someone else come in and push EA and Activision aside and take that leadership position. Maybe that’s Zynga, maybe that’s [Ngmoco parent company] DeNA.”
EA’s Battlefield Play4Free is currently in its beta stage. Users will be able to play the PC title for free and have the option of buying extra content in-game.