Electronic Arts ditches premium model for free-to-play mobile games in 2013

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Electronic Arts has no plans to release any new premium-download mobile games in 2013 and will instead focus its efforts exclusively on the free-to-play model.

Nick Earl

Nick Earl

"The market has spoken very loudly that [freemium is] the model they like," EA All Play Senior Vice President and General Manager Nick Earl told GamesIndustry International. "Even though there's some vocal minority that don't like it, ultimately the numbers would show that they and others all support the freemium model better."

Earl pointed to the success of EA's Real Racing 3: While some gamers voiced their displeasure over the franchise's shift to in-app purchases, the title has earned an average Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) App Store rating of 4.5 stars, with close to 40,000 user reviews to date.

"I think initially [critics] were a little bit annoyed because the all-you-can-eat model makes sense for them," Earl said. "That's the kind of people they are. But at the end of the day, they're going to pay to eat, if that's their choice. And they're happy doing it."

Real Racing 3 has now topped Apple's Free Apps chart in 90 different countries. Last month, EA said gamers have spent more than 14 million hours behind the virtual wheel, completing more than 25 million races per day. "At the end of the day you kind of have to look at real numbers," Earl added. "The old proverb, 'You can't please all the people all the time' is just so true."

EA's mobile titles and services, including handhelds, generated approximately $100 million in revenue during the quarter ending Dec. 31, an 18 percent year-over-year increase. The Simpsons: Tapped Out, a freemium iOS title first introduced in early 2012, generated more than $23 million in revenues during the final three months of last year alone.

EA's mobile gains have nevertheless failed to stem declines in the console segment. Two months after the company reported third-quarter fiscal 2013 net revenues of $922 million, down from $1.06 billion a year ago, CEO John Riccitiello resigned in mid-March, accepting blame for the company's recent financial missteps. EA's market value has fallen by close to two-thirds after Riccitiello assumed the CEO mantle in April 2007.

For more:
- read this GamesIndustry International article

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