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EA: Console Makers Will Have To "Break Down Barriers"

We could be in for some very big changes in the game industry. It may take a few years but that's sort of like an eye-blink in the bigger picture.

EA has taken some flak from investors for "not making enough money" and focusing too much on unproven markets and new IPs. Now, EA says they're learning as they go and if console makers aren't careful, the next generation of hardware may be threatened by the free-to-play model. In speaking at the London Games Conference, MD of EA's free-to-play Easy division, Ben Cousens, said that consumer behavior is dictating things right now and "within two to five years, the market is going to be seriously disrupted." Basically, publishers like EA have to figure out how to "grab the TV screen away from the console manufacturers and use new technology to break down the barriers to gamers." Free-to-play will result in consumers questioning the need for another console, and Cousens believes console makers will be forced to open up their closed platforms. "Anyone who thinks in terms of walled gardens is in trouble," he said, pointing at the closed nature of current platforms like the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live.

Cousens adds that the market is changing extremely fast, and that "there is a gap large enough for a shift as big as the original PlayStation." Maybe a new console would feature Google TV or Apple TV, or boast something that acts as an open platform for online web-based gaming via free-to-play. Who knows? But it'll certainly be interesting to watch.

Tags: consoles, free to play, ea, psn, xbox live

11/5/2010 10:23:53 AM Ben Dutka

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Comments (39 posts)

WolfCrimson
Friday, November 05, 2010 @ 10:39:07 AM
Reply

Completely off-topic, but Ben, did you get my e-mail?

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Deleted User
Friday, November 05, 2010 @ 10:40:00 AM

You just killed my first -__-

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, November 05, 2010 @ 10:48:50 AM

What e-mail?

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WolfCrimson
Friday, November 05, 2010 @ 10:55:30 AM

I sent you an e-mail at bdutka [at] psxextreme dotcom. Didn't you get it?

Sorry Log <:/

Last edited by WolfCrimson on 11/5/2010 10:56:41 AM

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, November 05, 2010 @ 11:05:37 AM

Uh...I don't think so. Try sending it again.

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coverton341
Friday, November 05, 2010 @ 11:17:03 AM

Don't be sorry for killing his "first". People that do the first thing should have a five day ban from here. This community for the most part is more mature than that and I for one would like to see it stay that way.

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WolfCrimson
Friday, November 05, 2010 @ 11:31:44 AM

Alright, I re-sent it. It should be from dark-vs-ice [at] mailextreme dotcom

Last edited by WolfCrimson on 11/5/2010 11:31:55 AM

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Deleted User
Friday, November 05, 2010 @ 10:39:28 AM
Reply

Finally, proof of the Phantom! =)

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Deleted User
Friday, November 05, 2010 @ 10:42:29 AM
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& y'know, if Netflix has streaming videos 24/7, I'm questioning myself what could stop Gamefly to invent a "Steam-like" download only service for homes? Maybe even a streaming service like Netflix has with PS3/XBOX. Hmm?

Last edited by n/a on 11/5/2010 10:43:48 AM

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Underdog15
Friday, November 05, 2010 @ 10:44:35 AM
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I'm a little confused by this. Is this suggesting people will eventually rather play casual shovelware like a slightly more advanced facebook style gaming? 'Cause, I thought PSN was already free to play.

I guess I'm just not 100% sure about what this EA guy is quasi-complaining about.

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Temjin001
Friday, November 05, 2010 @ 10:44:36 AM
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Woo hoo! Down with XBox LIVE pay to play.

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Temjin001
Friday, November 05, 2010 @ 10:53:52 AM

FYI: 360's 5th birthday is approaching. And for those who haven't had to buy a 360 multiple times, five years of Xbox LIVE at a good deal ($40 per year) adds up to $200. So there you go, 360+20GB HDD $400, 5 years of LIVE, no Blu-ray and wireless, and bring your own batteries for more than $600.... and counting =)

And careful that walled garden has red rings of death 0_0

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frylock25
Friday, November 05, 2010 @ 11:03:57 AM
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it seems they want to micro transaction these free to play games. so i guess spending money on them is optional. i dont think i like that idea though.

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Highlander
Friday, November 05, 2010 @ 11:17:58 AM
Reply

Free to play!?

Ha! Free to play my fat you know what!

Games cost millions and millions to make, they require decent hardware to run them. Free to play? Free as long as you *pay* for the gaming service. Nothing is free, especially when a corporation wants you to use their game/service. You pay either service fees or pay by having endless intrusive advertizing.

As for Phantom and all the other webTV gaming solutions, their model is broken already. It's not a free to play model, you require a more than decent broadband link to handle the video stream, your controls are dependent on the lag of the network, and you have to pay a service fee any way. As I said, games cost money to develop and they take hardware to run. Even if that hardware is at some centralized location, it still have to be bought and paid for as well as the cost of the operation and maintenance of it.

Free!? Ha! What a lie. What a liar this guy and every other 'free to play' advocate is. As Biker says, are they dooming us to a future of Facebook style flash based games? Or are we to go to a Netflix style game streaming service. Oh wait, key word there, service, it's not free.

The only free to play online game model I know of that is truly *free* is PSN. Once you buy the video game, you are free to play online with others, no further service fees or purchase required. That is free to play - online. The only free games that I am aware of where you get the game and play for 'free' are the kinds of micro-transaction driven crapfests on facebook (and other places) which are designed to sucker you in (aka addict you) so that you pay in small transactions for all sorts of virtual crap to make 'your' game better.

What a bunch of bull. Free to play indeed. The next thing you know they'll tell us that cable and satellite TV are free to view. Con men and liars, all of them. At least with the current PSN model you pay for the game, and play for free. You have something tangible that is yours (game discs).

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SvenMD
Friday, November 05, 2010 @ 11:47:45 AM

@ Sweedie - You may be right that you don't have to Pay to play "Mafia Wars" or any of those other "games"...but you sure as hell have to pay if you want anything good out of it. They will nickle and dime you for virtual coins or whatever their little token is that allows you to buy things within the game....or sure you can spend an entire month leveling-up to gain 5 coins or you can spend 5 bucks to get 5 coins instantly....what are the morons of the world going to do? "Well hell, it's only 5 bucks!!" Instead of buying a game or a service, you are buying pieces within the game. It's just another way to pay for the same thing.

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G8GTdriver
Friday, November 05, 2010 @ 11:48:55 AM

Zynga and EA are IMO in 2 totally different markets, atleast in the context of console vs. facebook games. My dad plays facebook games probably made my Zynga, but has never played a console since I tried to get him to play the first NFS game on PS1. I can't see EA delivering a NFS title as play for free, which is what one market wants, just like Zynga won't be making a first person Farmville with HD graphics.

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jaybiv
Friday, November 05, 2010 @ 11:55:46 AM

@hghlander. so true.

ea's problems are greed & quality. they let the sports division run aground and are now trying to right the ship. instead of bringing innovation to sports games, they chose to buy exclusivity to milk the cash cow. on the non sports side, they are spaghetti selling--throwing games out and hope something sticks.

the reality is ea is too big for it's own good. too much overhead consuming precious resources. i don't think they would be talking free to play if they were selling the cod franchise.

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Highlander
Friday, November 05, 2010 @ 12:43:00 PM

Regarding Zynga and it's games.

They are 'free' to play because you don't pay up front. But as I pointed out these 'free' games are free up to a point. Once you get into the game and want to do anything advanced or special, it's time to break out your credit card or PayPal account because you just stepped up to the dripping roast model of game revenue generation. Once you start on the road you can spend hundreds of dollars on virtual items for your farm, or restaurant or empire or whatever thing it is. These games end up generating more money over time than a $60 game price tag does because people pay gradually and fail to notice how much they are spending.

It might seem like 'free' because there is no sticker shock, but you add up what people spend in these games and it will shock the crap out of them more often than not.

It's a total fabrication to call these games free, they are not. But, they're not subscription supported and you don't buy them up front, so they can say they're free. In reality it's more like the limited functionality demo is free, and you pay for the full game piece by piece as you purchase other pieces of the game.

I find these even more dishonest than the game streaming concept of On-Live.

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AcHiLLiA
Friday, November 05, 2010 @ 1:28:44 PM

You are so right Highlander.

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Scarecrow
Friday, November 05, 2010 @ 2:40:24 PM

The Highlander is my hero.

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Alienange
Friday, November 05, 2010 @ 9:07:21 PM

TheHighlander? That first comment up there?

AAAAAwsome.

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BikerSaint
Friday, November 05, 2010 @ 10:18:35 PM

Highlander,
And speaking of Zynga, they have become a M$ mini-me clone because their company model blue=print seems to be mimicing M$'s shady practices.

You should have read all the article I've read already about zynga, by hundreds of their ex-employees.
The articles were all about either Zynga's deceit, treachery, back-stabbing &/or stealing of their competitor idea's.
The idea for Farmville & Mafia Wars were done by other companies, where Zynga allegedly stole those game ideas & changed them around just enough to call them, their own.
And if I still remember right, Zynga's been slapped with at least 2 lawsuits over their taking of others game & reworking them to suit themselves.

Also, Zynga's just been caught using some sort of code or bot inside Farmville & Mafia wars( & at least 1 other of their biggest hit FTP games) that's been mining information on every player & their computers. And more lawsuits have already been filed over it.

FYI, I also read recenty that Facebook & MySpace have also been "outed" using bots or code in some of their most popular free-to play games.

So the motto is,
"Free-to play is not free to play"

So even if there weren't any cash micro-transaction in free-to-play games business model what-so-every, their "snoopers" are still invading your lives, & steeling away at your info, your rights, & your freedom.

And that's the biggest price to pay of all.

Last edited by BikerSaint on 11/5/2010 10:21:58 PM

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Highlander
Saturday, November 06, 2010 @ 12:15:51 AM

Biker,

+100,000 for that one. I hadn't heard of the bots in the game code, but it doesn't at all surprise me. Zynga is a very aggressive company and are - as you say, following in Microsoft's footsteps. Like a lot of suddenly large Internet companies, they like to behave as if there is no law to govern their actions.

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G8GTdriver
Friday, November 05, 2010 @ 11:44:13 AM
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What is EA getting at here? Are they going to develop games and make the free to play? How would that make the investors happy? I can't imagine the people that are currently buying EA games and EA DLC on the 360 and PS3 are going to flock to current "free" to play games and I don't see EA making their current console games "free" to play.

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FatherSun
Friday, November 05, 2010 @ 11:57:02 AM
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You don't know what you've got till its gone. This so called free to play crap will only segregate gamers further. Let the casuals enjoy their microtransactions. After a year those can add up to much more than paying for a full game up front. What these companies are learning is that a game like Call of Duty MW2 sold for $60 yet map packs added $30 to the mix. Some people complained so they think that shrinking the amount will go unnoticed. And most likely it will. They are sitting on goldmines.

Give me my AAAs and leave me be. The casuals can fend for themselves. Let their dollars fund development for real games.

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RobiinzZ
Friday, November 05, 2010 @ 12:04:18 PM
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Haha i dont think so;

a 50gb $100 million game free to play..yh sure

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JackC8
Friday, November 05, 2010 @ 12:51:26 PM
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Makes about as much sense as predicting that people will quite buying TV's and begin watching everything on their 3.5" iPhone screens. The future is about higher quality experiences: Uncharted 2 followed by Uncharted 3, not Uncharted 2 followed by Texas HoldEm Poker.

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Alienange
Friday, November 05, 2010 @ 9:13:58 PM

For real

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Russell Burrows
Friday, November 05, 2010 @ 1:32:54 PM
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I predict wuyangs visit at our site will be extremely short!

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G8GTdriver
Friday, November 05, 2010 @ 2:28:54 PM
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http://www.joystiq.com/2010/11/05/battlefield-play4free-engages-hostiles-in-spring-2011/

I guess that is what their looking for people to play in the future?

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Highlander
Friday, November 05, 2010 @ 3:27:03 PM

Indeed. The game is free except for the real money you put in your battle wallet to pimp out your character...not very free then.

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Geobaldi
Friday, November 05, 2010 @ 4:10:00 PM

Which is totally optional and unneeded. Battlefield Heroes has the same model. Free to play with micro-transactions for other stuff. Pretty much all the purchaseable stuff is cosmetic and doesn't help you in game at all. It's primarily for those that just want to differentiate themselves from other players on the field. Only 10% of the players on that game actually buy anything as it's been revealed already. The trailer for the new one actually looks pretty fun too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlCPhYZfy3g

Off topic: the trailer for the Half-Life short movie :Beyond Black Mesa is looking pretty good as well. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=obFOc4SkkNI

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, November 05, 2010 @ 4:13:07 PM
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Sure I'll take all my games for free.

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Alienange
Friday, November 05, 2010 @ 9:09:44 PM
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If you shop around you can already get EA games for real close to free.

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SmokeyPSD
Friday, November 05, 2010 @ 10:27:44 PM
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PS3 is already pretty open development wise. I'm really not interested in facebook style free to play bs though...

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___________
Saturday, November 06, 2010 @ 8:24:23 AM
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hes right, social network gaming has exploded in the last few years!
so many sites you can go to and play full sized games for absolutely free!
ok, sure there not the big blockbuster games we get now, but for free there not bad!
i can see the next generation of consoles being much more social networking focused, its whats so popular now so console manufactures will want to take advantage of that.

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Highlander
Sunday, November 07, 2010 @ 1:15:42 AM

It's popular now, but as Myspace has shown, what is popular now, is not so popular tomorrow. Console business plans run to 5+ years in length, banking on something that's popular *now* isn't a sound strategy, you need to be build on a solid foundation, not a fad.

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___________
Sunday, November 07, 2010 @ 6:09:12 AM

its not a fad.
why do you think M$ and sony have run like mad getting facebook and twitter into their consoles?
why do you think it use to be free to access them with your mobile phone, before you had to just pay for internet costs but now you have to pay a small monthly fee on top of your internet fee to access them.
its not a fad, people said the exact same thing about MSN, how did that turn out?

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xnonsuchx
Sunday, November 07, 2010 @ 1:33:57 AM
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"Free-to-play" would SUCK...because that likely means simplistic and/or ad-supported games, etc., which may work for games like UNO, but most real gamers care little about those and will want the kinds of games that take many millions of dollars to produce. This almost sounds like some of the previous predictions of a single console standard (3DO, anyone???). Not to mention this is trying to predict online-only distribution, which many customers still reject!

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