EA wants to win back PC gamers, but its actions say otherwise


Electronic Arts is on a “journey to regain the confidence of the PC gamer”. At least that’s what Peter O’Reilly, EA’s senior marketing director for Origin, said in a recent interview.

“Over the past two years, we’ve focused on ensuring a great game experience from launch and giving players a better experience on Origin with programs like Great Game Guarantee, On the House and now Origin Access,” O’Reilly told the video game. MCV trade publication. “We are delighted with the progress we have made, but we always strive to innovate on behalf of the players.”

For seasoned gamers, this should come as no surprise. Top-tier titles like Battlefield 4 and SimCity had poor launches on PC where they were unplayable. This is something the community finds hard to forget; so much so that Battlefield 4 warranted a class action lawsuit.

It’s a great sentiment, but EA’s actions – as usual – feel more like a cash grab, with little thought given to what gamers want. Unlike other major publishers such as Bethesda, Square Enix, and Take 2, EA’s games are distributed through its own digital distribution service, Origin. By focusing on Origin, EA is able to avoid Steam’s 30% commission, and with programs like Origin Access, the company wants to keep you on its platform longer. After all, the more reasons you have to launch Origin, the more likely you are to convince yourself to pay more money.

(Also see: EA’s exclusive access to Xbox One is coming to Windows PC via Origin)

Which is good, because EA is a publicly traded company that needs to make a profit for its shareholders. The problem here lies in how Origin is, as a customer. There’s no unified achievement system, the UI is stuck in the dark ages, you can’t gift games to your friends, it lacks any form of big picture mode – which allows gamers fit Origin to a TV screen while sitting a good distance away. on a sofa – and most importantly, it has a poor, almost self-defeating pricing strategy.

Take a game like Star Wars Battlefront for example. It was selling at launch for Rs. 3,999 on Origin. Just three months later, it’s at Rs. 1,995, just under 50% off. FIFA 16, which is usually worth Rs. 3,499, is at Rs. 1,399.60. Yes, a staggering 60% reduction from what it was at launch less than six months ago.

When EA, which has access to all sorts of metrics and information about consumer buying habits, decides that a deep discount is the only way forward, it just sets a bad precedent. In doing so, it effectively teaches customers not to buy games at launch because a few months later there will be a steep discount. Plus, it attracts loyal customers who are starting to wonder why they pre-ordered a game or bought it at launch to begin with.

At least on Steam, you never feel aggrieved to such a degree. Valve’s main sales only happen during summer, Halloween, Black Friday and winter. It’s reached a point where the public is in tune with what to buy, when. And in the unlikely event that you feel like you’ve been scammed, there’s a solid refund policy to cover you.

EA wants to win back PC gamers, but its actions say otherwise

You could argue that thanks to EA’s total control over distribution and supply chain through Origin, it can afford to take a hit. Which would be true if the discounts weren’t so big. In the past, the company has vehemently claimed that discounts “depreciate intellectual property.”

(Also see: Here’s why you can buy FIFA 16 and other EA games only from Amazon India)

It doesn’t help that EA is able to overlook PC gamers in developing markets like India. Until 2013, you could buy Mass Effect, Need for Speed ​​or FIFA from a store or digitally for Rs. 1,499 or less. Ever since the SimCity debacle – whose Indian prices have been exploited by gamers from every other country – India has been punished with prices of Rs. 3,499 and above for most of EA’s new games. A year later, EA stopped releasing PC game discs for the region altogether.

All of this creates a confusing set of moves from the publisher, showing that the company has little in the way of improving its offering for PC gamers. This is doubly true for markets like India when considering the competition. Steam has adopted the Indian rupee, and other game companies have finally brought their prices in line with what most Indians can afford. And while Valve or its partners won’t reveal whether or not it was successful, it already has. an impact to entice Indians to play higher paying games. As for EA, it’s almost irrelevant to PC gamers in the country, only appearing in discussions when its games are discounted or when football fans are rushing to find the latest FIFA.

So while EA may claim that it’s there to gain the trust of PC gamers, this has simply led to it losing its pocket and losing confidence. And more importantly, to audiences in markets like India where, until 2013, it was the biggest and most popular gaming brand.



Tech

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