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EA Could One Day Ditch Annual Releases for Online Subscriptions for FIFA and Other Sports Games

For more than a decade, the highly lucrative sports simulation franchises from Electronic Arts (EA) have received annual iterations on a regular basis. Recent arrivals such as FIFA 18, NHL 18, Madden NFL 18, and NBA Live 18 are already expected to re-enter the market next year in updated forms. However, as the fever from the “games as a service” business model catches on, the publishing giant has started to ponder on potential changes.

Speaking with Bloomberg in a recent interview, chief executive officer Andrew Wilson stated that EA could one day ditch annual releases for online subscriptions and updates.

“There’s a world where it gets easier and easier to move that code around — where we may not have to do an annual release,” Wilson said. “We can really think about those games as a 365-day, live service.”

It is fact that consumers are already relying heavily on digital formats, and several companies have taken advantage of that by generating better financial numbers through extensive post-release support.

Ubisoft, for example, announced in its latest earnings report that it generated more from microtransactions, season passes, and content packs than game sales this year. EA has seen similar trends as well, reporting earlier this year that it made nearly $1.3 billion from the same elements.

The numbers are clearly there for the video game industry. All there is to do now is to stop investing millions every year for rehashes, and instead commit less than half of that into post-release updates for a single release.

Imagine FIFA receiving a new installment every two or three years instead of annually, a version that is simply updated by the developer every season for player-team-stats and other related content. Maintaining a game is always cheaper than working on a new installment. This way, EA will rake in money from not only the subscriptions but also microtransactions and content packs.