CFO Blake Jorgensen says players today expect mobile games to be free.
Don't expect Electronic Arts to release many more paid mobile games. Going forward, it's going to be all about free-to-play for the massive Mass Effect and Battlefield publisher, CFO Blake Jorgensen said today during the Wedbush 2014 Transformational Technologies Management Access Conference in New York.
"I think paid downloads will probably go away. That business is very small for us now and at the end of the day, the consumer expects to get the game experience on a mobile device for free," Jorgensen said. "And they know they can grow that experience over time by monetizing or paying for more, or continuing to play for free. And you're going to a little bit of both of those. But I do think the upfront fee for downloading is probably slowly disappearing. And it's fine, because I think the experience for the user is more immersive; they are able to get in and experiment with titles."
The challenging part for companies like EA is discoverability. With thousands of games available on iTunes and Google Play, making your game stand out is "where the real expense is." But Jorgensen has an answer for this task, too.
He said while other companies are spending an "awful lot" of money to promote their games on app stores, EA has the upper hand because of its catalog of already well-known franchises, including The Simpsons, The Sims, and EA Sports games like Madden and FIFA.
What EA's been doing in the mobile space appears to be working. The company's mobile games have 130 million monthly active users right now, and in fiscal year 2014 alone, players installed a whopping 600 million EA mobile games. Jorgensen admitted that only a "small portion" of players are paying for content, but this is not atypical, and Jorgensen said he anticipates that this figure will grow over time.
"We feel that the install base is a very important number for us because you're essentially creating a network and a group of users that you can keep moving to other games over time. It reduces your cost of acquisition so to speak," he said.
What makes mobile great as a platform, Jorgensen went on to say, is the way in which developers can constantly tweak the experience in response to fan feedback. Mobile revenue set a new record for EA last year, making up $460 million for the period.
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