EA looking into Battlefield subscription service

By Steve Watts, Mar 19, 2012 1:00pm PDT

EA has been angling to be on equal footing with Activision's Call of Duty franchise, and the success of Call of Duty Elite has given the company a whole new reason to smolder with jealousy. EA Games' Patrick Sonderlund has taken note of Elite's success, and says the company is looking into something similar.

"I think it's fair to say we're looking at [a subscription model]," Sonderlund told Venture Beat. "Like all other companies, we're looking at how we can maximize our investment in this and get the most out of our investment and get more people playing this product. That may take us to different places, but we're not really talking about where that is yet."

He says that Battlefield's Battlelog features are already providing some similar services. "We have people in Stockholm and North America and other parts of the world that are in this every single hour of every single day," he said. "365 days a year. We have an operations team at DICE to look at telemetry data. How are people playing the game, how can we improve the experience? Are they having problems? Are servers down? Are they up? All that stuff."

All the same, Sonderlund isn't challenging Call of Duty to a cage-match. "Call of Duty is a shooter, but it's a different shooter. And I think they have a market; we have a market. I'm fine with what I'm doing. I'm going to continue innovating and doing as best I can with my team. Hopefully that's going to lead us to more units [sold] and more happy customers."

Sonderlund isn't the first EA executive to tip the company's hand on a subscription model. Peter Moore recently said the company may take a model similar to Elite, or even aim to do something "one step ahead." Meanwhile, Activision is preparing Call of Duty Elite 2.0, so this year's shooter rivalry might be over the accompanying services more than the shooters themselves.

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