EA’s Söderlund Skeptical About Free-To-Play Thriving On Consoles
The PlayStation 4 certainly isn’t the first console home for free-to-play games, but Sony is making the concept one of the platform’s tentpoles. EA studios boss Patrick Söderlund isn’t sure that the concept will take root.
The PlayStation 4 came out of the gate with three different, enormous free titles from three different developers. Zombie Studios came to the table with first-person shooter Blacklight Retribution. Digital Extremes ported over its PC co-op title Warframe. Sony Online brought DC Universe Online to a third platform after a successful start on PC and PS3.
“I think a lot of people prefer to pay for the full game and get access to everything,” Söderlund told MCV. “And I wouldn’t use the word free-to-play - they are not free.”
As a matter of comparison, the new EA Studios head (who previously oversaw Battlefield developer DICE exclusively) mentioned his former charge. “Sometimes when I play freemium games on mobile I feel ‘these guys just want more money,’” he says. “When I pay $60 for Battlefield, I know what I am getting.”
EA has recently shifted its leadership, moving former EA Labels head Frank Gibeau to the top spot in the mobile division. The company has taken a significant step back from online social gaming, closing a number of studios and executing enormous layoffs across the company worldwide.
There are a couple of Söderlund’s points that I find particularly interesting. The comment about developers just wanting more money seems a bit like both throwing stones and living in a glass house. Just look at EA’s own monetization strategy (SimCity included an airship for $9 and an amusement park for $10). EA also included nickel-and-dime microtransactions in Dead Space 3, and has a history of selling cheat codes.
As for Battlefield, I wish it were true that players knew what they were getting. The title has been plagued by crashes, server browser problems, and a dearth of 64-player conquest matches. Söderlund might have some valid points about free-to-play, but his comments are ill-timed and not the least bit introspective.