Microtransactions could become a part of every game in the not-too-distant future, EA’s COO has claimed.
EA COO Peter Moore says the industry is in the midst of a difficult transition to multiple new business models.
Speaking to Kotaku at the E3 conferecne in L.A, Moore described the conference as the "anxiety E3", not only because of worries about the console cycle, but questions about the future of the industry across all platforms.
"We’re going through, as an industry, just an unbelievably difficult transformation, that is not from one business model to another but from one business model to a myriad of different business models," said Moore.
To Moore, this transition is a good thing, as the growth of free to play and other business models has brought many new gamers to the market.
Core gamers however, may feel ignored as the industry persues a wider audience.
Microtransactions are becoming the new gold standard of an industry which no longer sees success in terms of copies sold, but in ARPUs and conversions.
In time, Moore believes that games could have active player bases in the tens of millions, and that microtransactions will become the norm.
"I think, ultimately, those microtransactions will be in every game, but the game itself or the access to the game will be free," said Moore.
"Ultimately, my goal is… I measure our business in millions of people have bought our game. Maybe when I’m retired, as this industry progresses, hundreds of millions are playing the games. Zero bought it. Hundreds of millions are playing. We’re getting 5 cents, 6 cents ARPU a day out of these people."
"The great majority will never pay us a penny which is perfectly fine with us, but they add to the eco-system and the people who do pay money—the whales as they are affectionately referred to—to use a Las Vegas term, love it because to be number one of a game that like 55 million people playing is a big deal."
Moore conceded that narative titles like Mass Effect may never move away from the $60 model, but said that growth would occur elsewhere, in the social, MMO, and casual spheres.
"Hardcore gamers won’t like to hear this," said Moore. "They like to circle the wagons around what they believe is something they feel they have helped build—and rightly so."
"But we have seen, whether it was with the Wii getting mom off the couch to do Wii Sports or whether it was, more recently EA Sports Active, where we get females who love to work out, all the things that social gaming did—Rock Band did it, Guitar Hero did it—all of the things that elevated it from being a dark art of teenage boys usually sequestered in the bedroom—that it was testosterone-filled content that everybody railed against—to where everybody is a gamer…if you can move your index finger and swipe it this way, your’e a gamer. And that has got be the way it goes."
The reason for this change is the much talked about challenge of mobile.
To Moore and other industry players, the burgeoning market for casual games and games on smartphones and tablets means new opportunity for revenue.
The revenue has to come from somewhere though, and fewer games are being made with the core gamer in mind.
To those concerned about the future, Moore asked for patience, reassuring worried core gamers that EA’s strategy would pay off in the long term.
"I think at times gamers need to understand that we need to work our way through this stuff," he said.
"They need to be patient with us as we try to figure out what are the business models of the future."