Published: Thu, November 09, 2017
IT | By Lester Massey

EA is Considering Ditching Annual Sports Releases

EA is Considering Ditching Annual Sports Releases

Speaking with Bloomberg, EA chief Andrew Wilson hinted that EA might drop the yearly release development cycle for titles like FIFA, Madden NHL, and National Football League in favor of a game as a service model meaning instead of a yearly new release, players can pay a subscription fee to receive new content and upgrades.

The EA CEO also said there will come a time when it will get easier to move that code around and make it possible to not have an annual release for one of its games. The tools are in place for one of the top third-party companies in the video game industry to try something revolutionary with some of the biggest third-party franchises.

In Korea and China, for example, EA (alongside Nexon) are responsible for FIFA Online, an online massively multiplayer FIFA game that isn't available outside of select territories. Those two game series have seen yearly releases for quite some time now, and while some players accept that this is the way sports games works, others lament the fact that they need to buy a new game every year just to stay up-to-date with things like roster changes.

EA is no stranger to subscription services. Instead, the publisher is looking into the possibility of a subscription-based system replacing the annual releases, taking sports gaming in a whole new direction. It kicked off with EA Access, a subscription service that grants users access to a library of "vault" games, with newer titles added between 6 and 9 months after release. In fact, it has already done this with Madden NFL Mobile for the past three years and Wilson notes that the game's user base continues to grow. "How does that manifest on your 60-inch TV, an hour at a time". Wilson went on in his interview to say that, "The greatest disruptor to the consumption of entertainment media in the last five years has been the combination of streaming plus subscription".

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