I played EA’s (Electronic Arts) games when I was young. I was really into it. And honestly, I thought it was one of the better companies. It pains me to see such an important company to have fallen so low with the need for microtransactions and other publishers have followed the same path. But let’s not get stuck what could be done better – everyone has read about the latest controversies. Everyone has their own ideas on what EA should have done. So do I and here they are.
I think you are interested in games. You already heard or read that the games that EA released recently pretty much screwed over the gaming audience (Star Wars Battlefront II and Need for Speed Payback). I can understand that publishers want more money for the least possible cost needed and risks taken, much like in banking. Easy money is good, free money is better. But should the publishers have done something differently in order to make their service model in games more sustainable? It seems with every new game injected with microtransactions, there is going to be major backlash.
In business, there is a tool called ”Ansoff matrix”, which shows the possible choices for a company to plan strategies in new or existing markets. Companies can build their strategies according to this framework.
So where are the publishers situating their AAA titles? First of all, these titles have become very homogeneous products. For instance, the core gameplay of Need for Speed has always been arcade racing (nowadays with a corny storyline), now more so as every car part has been quantified – you bet 76% suspension is better than 23% – and more is always better. Anyhow, the products have always been the same or in the matrix’s context existing products.
Now the biggest difference is where the publishers should invest the games into. I believe that publishers should delve into new markets. It is based on the idea that games should aim for a broader and younger audience to relieve the development costs and also to compete with mobile games. Although, it is still much on a general level of strategy, this would be a better start. Gamers’ audience are actually much larger, aside the hard core fans and console players. This part of strategy is called market development. It is a risky move, since investments must resonate with a new market’s demands. In other words, publishers can’t rely on the homogeneous games they had.
However, they insist on staying in their existing markets, the gamers who are already paying the full price AND being served with micro transactions – so you are actually asking the same market twice for money. No wonder there would be backlash. For market penetration to be successful, companies need to be more considerate to end users (players) and even more on a personal level, since the market has already been covered. Fighting for the smallest market share is another battle to grasp the last squeeze of revenue. Another option is to drive out other competitors. This proves to be hard, because there are other major publishers around with their games popping out every year. I could go on forever.
I bet you have other opinions about this business talk. I am sure of it. Despite my point of view, publishers are still pushing out the service shenanigans in games (microtransactions) and there will be players buying games and effectively purchasing those additional lootboxes. In retrospect, what the publishers are doing, is sustainable… but for how long? I will get into that another time.