Update: Electronic Arts is indeed examining a "number of projects for delivering premium content to consumers before, during, and after the launch of a packaged-goods version of the game," EA VP Jeff Brown told Kotaku in response to Pachter's comments.
"None of the proposals...call for charging consumers for traditionally free game demos," Brown added. However, keep in mind that Pachter suggested such paid downloads would be longer and/or more full-featured than traditional demos.
Original: As mega-publisher Electronic Arts continues to expand its presence in the paid download arena, Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter has revealed a new strategy in which EA sells what, in his words, "would essentially be a very long game demo."
As Pachter explained to Gamasutra, "I think that the plan is to release [paid downloadable content] at $15 that has 3-4 hours of gameplay, so [it has] a very high perceived value, then [EA will] take the feedback from the community (press and players) to tweak the follow-on full game that will be released at a normal packaged price point."
He provided an example in the form of the download-only multiplayer shooter Battlefield 1943, writing: "If DICE were able to follow Battlefield 1943 with a full-blown European WWII campaign game a few months later, it would have been a wild success."
He added: "EA's view is that the PDLC costs a lot less to develop (essentially, it's the first few levels of the full-blown game), and they have the opportunity to fix whatever needs to be fixed in the packaged product that is released a few months later, whether that entails doing more of what people like or doing less of what they don't."
Pachter says he learned of the strategy during a recent visit to Electronic Arts, which included presentations from various executives, including CEO John Riccitiello, CFO Eric Brown, and Visceral Games general manager Nick Earl.
According to Pachter, other tidbits to emerge from the presentations included word that Visceral's long-rumored Jack the Ripper game is to be a downloadable on PlayStation Network and Xbox Live and the unsurprising revelation that "EA intends to exploit all of its packaged games with ancillary digital revenue streams."
...aaaand we're back to shareware. kind of.