Friday, 8 March 2013

Electronic Arts Clarifies Micro-Transactions Decision

After the somewhat negative reaction to the inclusion of micro-transactions in future titles, Electronic Arts seems to have begun  trying to correct the supposed misconception surrounding their CFO's statements.

As was reported last time, at the Morgan Stanley Technology Media & Telecom Conference one of EA's representatives, Blake Jorgensen, announced that all of their future titles will include micro-transactions as an option. Paranerds covered the problems behind this idea both in the news article itself and the 120th podcast in terms of difficulty, cost, balance and how large an impact this would have on the industry. However EA has come out stating that this was incorrect and that they never intended to have micro-transactions included in all titles at all. In another conference, the Wedbush Technology Conference in New York, Jorgensen has stated that he was not speaking of in-house technology from EA which will allow them to deal with credit card processing and digital downloads internally. An article on Polygon recorded the following quotes from him:

"I made a statement in the conference along the lines of 'We'll have micro-transactions in our games' and the community read that to mean all our games, and that's really not true," he said. He did note that all of its mobile games going forward will have micro-transactions, "because almost all of them are going to a world where they are play for free." He called mobile the "real core" of its micro-transaction strategy.
For non-mobile games, Jorgensen says the strategy is to extend the game's life, which might involve micro-transactions, downloadable content, or services like Battlefield Premium "It allows someone to take a game that maybe they played for 1,000 hours and play it for 2,000 hours," he said. "We are very conscious that we don't want to make consumers feel like they're not getting value. We want to make sure consumers are getting value."

This is no doubt a relief to many who feared what might follow if the publisher did opt to include additional payments to AAA titles and a sign that EA does listen to its customers when enough displeasure is caused. That being said, look at his original statement compared to what he's claiming it to be now:

Morgan Stanley Technology Media & Telecom Conference - “we’re building into all of our games the ability to pay for things along the way, either to get to a higher level, to buy a new character, to buy a truck, a gun; whatever it may be.”

Wedbush Technology Conference- "I made a statement in the conference along the lines of 'We'll have micro-transactions in our games' and the community read that to mean all our games"

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realise this doesn't match up. The original statement is fairly clear on exactly what it means and went into a few details to back his point. Were it a slip of the tongue it would have only taken a second to correct the point. Something he would have wanted to do if he wished to accurately present a large chunk of EA's future strategy and plans to those he was speaking with. Especially considering how important his audience was to EA.

Consider for a moment that the actual conference he was speaking in was being directed to investors and partners in the financial aspects of their business, not to their customers. This is not something like E3 where games journalists would be known to be involved and anything said would be certain to end up being reported on or where those who would be buying their products would immediately learn of it. Any response surrounding the decision would be very different because rather than affecting the people it was being directed to on an entertainment level it would be as individuals thinking of business and seeking profit.

Would it really be surprising to hear that Electronic Arts decided the damage to their name would be offset by the potential profit they could get from making additional charges for content on every title? It's speculation of course but just consider what was being said, where this was being announced and if it's that hard to believe that, as a business whose only goal is to increase profit and please shareholders, they would not go through with this.

Still, for the time being we should probably just be thankful we won't be seeing £50.00 titles requesting additional cash on the day of release anytime soon.

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