Free-to-download MMO racer Need For Speed World won't be released at retail, but retailers will be able to sell pre-paid game cards for the franchise's latest title.
Speaking to MCV at EA's European showcase in London last week, Need For Speed's producer Jesse Abney explained the difficulties of making an online-only game attractive to retailers.
As a free game that we want to distribute to everyone, we have essentially had to re-evaluate how we distribute a game with a digital client to aid our retail partners,” Abney said.
In this case we might introduce a product that contains a Need For Speed World activation code – like a phone card – that the consumer can buy in store.”
A micro-transaction system will give players access to new cars, tracks and power-ups in exchange for pre-paid credits.
EA is also confident that Need For Speed World's new distribution model can tackle piracy and maximise exposure at the same time.
Abney added: We're fully content to have the digital client distributed via every channel – as well as pirated.
I think the majority of customers still want a material object they can buy and the whole eco system of the games business is built on retail – we can't ignore how important that is.
Sony and Microsoft might not care as much if we deliver things digitally, but we have a tremendous number of retail partners that might.
So to do a wholesale transition overnight will have a detrimental impact – it would be like killing
all the blue whales in the ocean and then expecting that there will be no knock-on effect.”
Need For Speed World will be released worldwide in July. The franchise has been a regular sales success for EA over the past 16 years.