EA Reaping Tremendous Windfalls from Digital Sales

By Garnett Lee, Dec 08, 2010 3:40pm PST Speaking at an industry conference, Electronic Arts CFO Eric Brown proclaimed, "we've at least in part kind of cracked the code of how to extend the revenue derived from a physical disc to the digital world," Gamasutra reports. As proof, Brown pointed to the $16 million in revenue earned by Battlefield 1943, a game he said cost only single-digit millions to make using talent that was "between projects" as he put it. And who knows, if they ever get around to releasing it on PC that figure may yet rise.

Battlefield's ability to sell game content online carried over to Bad Company 2 as well. Brown said that the waves of downloadable content released for the game kept its revenue stream producing. And they still have the Vietnam DLC pack due up this month, targeted specifically to go after the Call of Duty: Black Ops market.

It's not all shooters, either. Even FIFA got in on the act with gamers spending, "$500, $600, $700 on digital card packs," Brown said.

Based on these successes, expect EA to continue its push using regular releases of its core brands as the springpad from which to launch additional content online. As Brown says, "We think we're growing most rapidly in DLC for the console ... we think digital starts with the disc and the high-definition platforms."

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  • Tangentially related: Develop interviews EA Games President Frank Gibeau: http://www.develop-online.net/features/1067/EAs-leap-of-faith

    Taking into consideration what you’ve been saying about the importance of dev autonomy and, elsewhere, the need to add multiplayer to games, what if the Visceral team told you that multiplayer isn’t something that should be added to Dead Space? It’s not something completely unforeseeable, considering its genre.
    Well, it’s not only about multiplayer, it’s about being connected. I firmly believe that the way the products we have are going they, need to be connected online. Multiplayer is one form of that.

    Game makers, the really good ones, they want to make great games but they also want to make blockbusters. One of the things they need to do is balance that out – I have the right team to help them.

    I volunteer you to speak to EA’s studio heads; they’ll tell you the same thing. They’re very comfortable moving the discussion towards how we make connected gameplay – be it co-operative or multiplayer or online services – as opposed to fire-and-forget, packaged goods only, single-player, 25-hours-and you’re out. I think that model is finished.

    Online is where the innovation, and the action, is at.

    So yeah, Twitter integration, forced multiplayer modes, and Project $10 forever. Or at least that seems to be the subtext that has a number of other gaming sites angry at Gibeau right now. Gamers who are seeking a good long single-player campaign as a break from the multiplayer zaniness apparently won't be getting it from EA, if executives like Gibeau are going to push for focusing almost exclusively on multiplayer and Twitter integration.

    Another choice quote: "I mean, EA used to be against M-rated content. Go check out Dead Space [laughs]. It’s one of my core cultural studio values to allow developers to decide more on what they want to build." Ugh, Visceral's interpretation of "mature games" is an insult to gamers who want truly mature games. I'd rather have something along the lines of what Danger Close were doing in the Medal of Honor reboot (but obviously with better quality

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