Outspoken EA boss John Riccitiello has sought to defend the firm’s recent efforts to reward customers who buy new copies of its games by bundling one-off DLC codes in the box.
The likes of Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Dragon Age: Origins and Mass Effect 2 have already included such codes, and future releases such as The Sims 3 and, thanks to the recently announced Online Pass, both Tiger Woods 11 and FIFA 11 will also adopt the same model.
“We think it's a great idea,” boss John Riccitiello told investors. “We think it's going to build our business and we think it's a positive consumer experience. Invariably, the consumer is getting a boatload more content to experience than they otherwise would.
“We used to literally pull our teams off of a game within maybe four to six weeks pre-ship and they'd go work on something else because the game was done, it was going into manufacturing. Their jobs were done.
“Our teams are being held in place up through and beyond ship to continue to create content to entertain the consumer with new content associated with the IP they like best.”
As well as stimulating sales of new games and, as a consequence, dissuading consumers from buying pre-owned titles that offer no tangible return for publishers, Riccitiello added that this new development model has allowed EA to significantly decrease the number of titles it publishes annually without suffering a drop in revenue.
“This is why we believe we can successfully go from 73 or 75 titles three short years ago to 36 titles – halving our title count and retaining our revenue,” he explained.
“By generating more revenue per IP, by extending our business model into subscriptions, into micro transactions, into downloadable content and then into new platforms like social networks or putting our IP out through Pogo or building directed services like Tiger Online, FIFA Online and Battlefield Online.”
EA went on to add that over 70 per cent of those who bought games including a DLC code went on to redeem them. However, the number of gamers buying codes to unlock the content with used copies of the game is low, specifically “low single digit percentage”.
“We saw a very, very high redemption rate of first time purchasers using the code redeeming the content,” COO John Schappert added.
“By giving people this access code, we got them into the online world. So we've seen very strong uptake in downloadable content across all titles, because we have content available on day one and we seeded it with a bonus token for free content.”