EA Free2Play Chief: $60 Games are ‘Exploitative’

Ben Cousins, General Manager of EA’s free-to-play branch Easy Studios, says that the current $60 retail model for games is exploitive. In several interviews to promote the launch of Battlefield Play4Free, Cousins is throwing jabs at the traditional retail model and putting a positive spin on free online games. Of course, it makes sense that Cousins would bag on retail, while pointing out the sunshine and rainbows he feels are associated with the free to play model.

"I can’t think of anything more exploitative than gating all of your content behind having to pay someone $60," Cousins tell Rock, Paper, Shotgun. "That’s a really harsh business model if you think about it objectively. What we do is enable everyone to play the game, and figure out if they like it. If they don’t like it they can walk away and they don’t lose anything."

Cousins adds that the future of gaming is "platform agnostic" and that "free games with deep multiplayer experiences" will be at the center of it all.

On a related note, you can check out Battlefield Play4Free by visiting battlefield.play4free.com.

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  1. 0
    Thad says:

    James, the word is "exploitative".  "Exploitive" is not a word.  If you’re going to put quotation marks around something, it’s probably a good idea to make sure it’s the word the person actually used.

  2. 0
    Chris Kimberley says:

    Hmm… that muzzle flash is awfully far from the muzzle.  I can see why the game is free. 😛

    It’s interesting that he talks about how this is great for consumers when the model is developed to actually make more money from consumers.  It’s just that you make the money over a longer timeframe.

    Also, the existence of demos (for some games at least) and extensive previews, reviews, trailers, gameplay videos, etc. kind of belies his point about being able to try before you buy.  In my opionion you can have a reasonable idea of whether or not you’ll like a game before you shell out money for it.  And if you think about it, most things you buy come with no such expectation that you should be able to try it out before you decide to pay for it. 


    Chris Kimberley

  3. 0
    Murdats says:

    Railworks is a sim, there are different rules for sims

    Also steam only allows the game publisher to publish ‘DLC’, so what has happened is people wishing to sell their content on steam do it via proxy, so its not all the publishers content (most of it isn’t), you are also ignoring the massive amounts of free content that isnt released to steam for it, and the still significantly large paid content that isn’t released to steam for it.

    I do however hate how it ends up spamming steam, but comparing a sim with lots of content developers to games is not an equal comparison

  4. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    Any way you look at it the game narrative is lite on content which makes demos difficult to do and free to play models even more tricky. I think they would be better off treating a games IP in 2 segments online and offline and charge more for the online unless you are really working on the single player game narrative.

    I have a dream, break the chains of copy right oppression! http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/2010/05/21/cigital-disobedience/

  5. 0
    lomdr says:

    Though, Zippy, that model works with MMO trials and Casual game trials as they don’t know how far you’ll get in the demo.  Though, sometimes it doesn’t work as I saw HALF of what Plan It Green had to offer before my free hour was done.  Also, with FATE (especially with the Expansequels), you’re not giong to see a lot because of HOW the games play, even if you immediately enter the descending tile.  Just saying for what you said about downloading the full but only playing a chunk of it

    Replying to your earlier statement about 200 USD for a "Free 2 Play game", I gave an example of a "Pay for the Base set, pay rediculous amount of money if you want the rest". 

  6. 0
    lomdr says:

    To be fair though, neither the Sims (if you stay in one generation of games) or Guitar Hero can be considered the most expensive game out there.  Railworks 2 on steam costs over 1100 if you want every single train and scenario that studio has put out. 

  7. 0
    Craig R. says:

    How long has EA been in business? 20, 25 years? Funny how they didn’t mind the exploitation for all those years.

    But then, this has nothing to do with one-time exploitation, but the desire to exploit many times over a long period of time, shutting out the used market, etc.

    The only thing exploitative here is EA’s Free2Play Chief himself.

  8. 0
    Samster says:

    I can imagine this argument being misused to support the growing tendency of releasing incomplete/buggy games, then charging customers again for ‘downloadable content’ that should have been part of the full game in the first place. And then tempting them a year later with all of the DLC and the initial game in a ‘game of the year’ edition if they really want that complete experience.

    Initial release price tags are okay and demos for prospective customers to try are pretty common – it’s not like you can’t wait a few months for the game to drop in price, either. Rarely do I buy a game on release anymore and frequently it saves me about £20 or more per game. If I know the game is likely to be re-released with all DLC later on as well, then I’m prepared to wait even longer and save even more money. Only time I pay that new release price is if I’m absolutely desperate and hyped up about the game, or if there are perks to preordering that warrant the cost.

    I want good developers to make money and I’m prepared to give them that money in exchange for their work. It would be nice if they didn’t harp on about the used game trade though as that is really your only recourse if you do, indeed, buy a game and not like it, or need to raise some funds to buy the next game they’re releasing.

  9. 0
    Uncharted NES says:

    Remember Shareware? They gave you a full set of levels and if you liked it, you’d buy the full game. In Wolfenstein 3D, they gave you a whole chapter, boss and all. Why can’t game companies do that anymore? They can get a profit by selling the shareware (cheap, like $1-3 at the most) or for free if the want, and gamers can find out if the want it or not. And not just PC, but consoles too. Quantity people!

    Ah yes I’m that old. :)


    GamePolitics, it’s time for a mobile version of the site, don’t you think?

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