Electronic Arts chief operating officer Peter Moore says he sees a future where someday, even the publisher's big franchises, the "full 12-gigabyte client games" like Battlefield, FIFA and Need for Speed, may go entirely free-to-play, but that EA's offerings will continue to evolve over the next generation of consoles, tablets and PC platforms.
"It's going to be a while before we can say, alright, here's a 15-gig client for free," Moore tells Wired in a newly published interview. "Although we're getting there with [Star Wars: The Old Republic], which is the first change, although that's an MMO world in which we can micro-transact.
"At some point we've got to make some money. This is an expensive undertaking, particularly the types of game you're talking about where you've got 200 and something people working full time on a game. It's a leap of faith to go, 'okay, it's free.'"
EA already boasts plenty of free-to-play offerings based on established franchises: Battlefield Heroes, Need for Speed World and the upcoming Command & Conquer. Moore says the company is seeing "huge opportunities on smartphones and tablets" with the release of Microsoft's Surface tablet and viable iPhone and iPad competitors.
Moore also touches on the free-to-play evolution of BioWare's Star Wars MMO, which is slated to include a non-subscription option later this year. When the game began development, Moore said, the subscription-based model made sense, given the scope, lengthy development time and budget of The Old Republic.
"As we get closer, you realize the world is changing around you," Moore said. "We have to change accordingly. Now you've got a hybrid model, which is the way I like it, because I'd rather say 'give me all you can eat for 15 bucks a month and I'll play the game if you give me everything,' which is still available."
He tells Wired that price "was always the issue" for Star Wars: The Old Republic players, both a barrier to entry and to those who left the ranks as paying subscribers.
Additionally, Moore says that the PC market has gone from "dead to us" as a company to "a very attractive platform" during his five years at EA.