Having this morning confirmed a brand new, free-to-play instalment of its popular Battlefield series, publisher EA has said that the emergence of such titles threatens to rock the world of console gaming.
At what point do the hardcore gamers switch over from spending $60 a month on console games to spending that much a month on microtransactions for an online title,” EA Easy's Ben Cousins told the London Games Conference audience last night.
There's an opportunity in the next two to five years to cause a significant disruption to the traditional triple-A console market. I want someone considering buying a game on a Microsoft console to think 'But these games are free over here'.”
However, it's worth noting that the emergence of titles such as FIFA Online has done nothing to dent the sales of the core console series. Recent release FIFA 11 sold 2.6m units in its first week, making it the most successful launch in the series' history. It has since gone on to sell 8m units.
The same can't be said for Tiger Woods, though. Sales of the most recent release in that series are tracking massively down year-on-year. How much of this is due to Tiger Woods PGA Tour Online and how much is due to Tiger's real-life transgressions, however, is a matter of debate.
And EA has not been shy about discussing its ambitions for FIFA.
Last month Peter Moore told MCV: We need to provide that persistent world, maybe sometimes powered by discs, maybe on social networks, or the cloud or whatever. That's' the team's vision, that no matter where you are or what you're using, there's a FIFA experience to be had, it all links together, it lifts your level up and identifies your status.
Personally I still think there'll be discs five years from now. But generally yes, of course, I think there will come a time when FIFA is less a disc that you wait for in late September/early October, and more something that we provide 365 days a year.”