Microtransactions are where the money is for EA ahead of next year’s Battlefield: Play4Free.
In-game advertising has not delivered the expected levels of revenue, with microtransactions proving far more lucrative for EA.
The publisher’s general manager of free-to-play, Ben Cousins, told us: “We actually aren’t getting much from ad revenue at all. The in-game advertising business hasn’t grown as fast as people expected it to.”
He points to the success enjoyed by Zynga, the publisher that has enjoyed huge revenues from microtransactions in its Facebook games, as evidence of his claim. “If you think about how fast the virtual goods business has grown in the last year or so, it’s been much quicker and become a much more reliable source of revenue.”
Cousins spoke to us ahead of the release of Battlefield: Play4Free, EA’s PC shooter which is set to launch next spring. It follows the success of the free-to-play Battlefield Heroes, released last year, which contained both in-game advertising and microtransactions. “We hedged our bets,” he said. “we thought we’d do in-game advertising and virtual goods sales, and one of those took off really fast and the other hasn’t really taken off at all.”
He is keen to stress he is not sounding the death knell for the in-game advertising model, but suggests publishers need to think more creatively for it to succeed. “I think it’s more about specific deals where you can tie the content in,” he said.
“We did a deal with Dr Pepper for Battlefield Heroes, where if you buy a bottle and scan in the code you get an exclusive outfit. That kind of deep integration will work, I think, but I’m not convinced that we’ll have billboards in games and things like that. Maybe those days are over.”
You can read the full interview in our new issue, which is on UK shelves from tomorrow.