Annual Madden/FIFA Disc Releases Could End

(Screencap from video by

The head of Electronic Arts says the day could come when its sports titles no longer have an annual physical release. Andrew Wilson says the company could switch to providing an ongoing download service – implying a microtransaction model.

It’s no secret that each year’s new edition of games such as FIFA or Madden feel a bit of a stretch to some would-be buyers. While you’ll get the odd new feature or gameplay tweak here or there, it often seems like the only significant change is an update to team rosters, along with any team clothing changes in FIFA.

That makes buying a new full-priced game offputting to many, though to date EA seems to have concluded that the total revenue from a more limited audience still works out better overall. However, speaking to Bloomberg TV, Wilson said “We can really think about those games as a 365-day, live service.”

How that would work in practice would have to be fleshed out. One option would be to have all the usual changes that come in the new annual release available as a downloadable update at a much lower price, even if only to reflect the removal of disc production and removal costs.

Another option would be to price everything individually, with gamers able to pay a very small fee to get a particular update such as their team’s new kit and squad/uniform and roster. That might be a logistical problem however, as in theory that could mean the same player being on two teams in the game.

It’s worth noting Wilson’s interview was wide-ranging, with some suggestions more hypothetical and forward-thinking than others. For example, he talked about augmented reality and suggested an option where players could complete a real-life training drill to earn points that could then be spent in a game.

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