EA CEO: Non-Annual Sports Titles A Possibility
Speaking to Bloomberg, Electronic Arts CEO Andrew Wilson broached the possibility that in the future the company may not release sports games like FIFA and Madden annually, possibly in favor of a update and/or subscription model.
"There's a world where it gets easier and easier to move that code around – where we may not have to do an annual release," said Wilson. "We can think about those games as a 365-day, live service."
Later in the interview, Wilson expressed admiration for the streaming subscription model for TV shows, for instance, calling it "the great disruptor to the consumption of entertainment media in the last five years."
Sports fans have gotten used to buying titles like Madden annually, but have questioned whether such franchises produce enough differentiation from year to year to be worthy of a new annual purchase.
In the past, one of the reasons EA stated to justify the need for annual releases is the wholesale engine improvements for areas such as graphics and features (Madden 18 itself has just adopted the Frostbite engine) that can be utilized by the franchise via new releases as opposed to just releasing a roster update, for example.
Given the success of Ultimate Team as well as the company's overall interest in making sure games have longer post-release legs, EA is already thinking about games as a "365-day, live service." The real question is if sports titles aren't released annually, will features that currently are not monetized or updated significantly post-launch like Madden's Connected Franchise Mode wither even more than they already are?