Electronic Arts’ CEO Imagines a Year Without a New Madden Game. Electronic Arts Inc. Chief Executive Officer Andrew Wilson said there may soon come a time when the video-game publisher doesn’t release a new annual version of hits such as FIFA 18 and Madden NFL 18 and relies instead on online updates or subscriptions.
“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 told Bloomberg TV host Emily Chang on her show “Studio 1.0.” “We can really think about those games as a 365-day, live service.” The video-game industry has been shifting from sales of physical discs to online delivery over the past few years. That includes everything from full-game downloads of new titles to in-game purchases of gear or fantasy sports-like rosters of players.
Electronic Arts, based in Redwood City, California, already offers a mobile version of Madden, its popular football game. Since 2014, the company has offered EA Access, a $5-a-month service that allows customers access to a library of games. New titles are added about six months after their initial release.
In the latest sign of an industry shift to a subscription model, GameStop Corp., the largest standalone video-game retailer, announced a new program last week that lets customers borrow pre-owned games for $10 a month. Wilson, a 43-year-old Australian who became CEO four years ago, said he’s a big fan of Spotify, the music streaming service that picks different playlists for him when he’s driving to work or exercising at the gym.
“The greatest disruptor to the consumption of entertainment media in the last five years has been the combination of streaming plus subscription,” Wilson said. “It’s changed the way we watch television. It’s changed the way we listen to music. It’s changed the way I read books.”
Even with the shift to digital though, the video-game industry still relies on splashy new holiday releases to drum up excitement — and gifts from grandma — for their biggest titles. They have also positioned their games as far more advanced graphically than mobile games, and thus better played on souped-up personal computers or consoles.