Gaming monolith Electronic Arts has said that it is to wind down its major releases, moving more towards mobile and “online” games, though it doesn’t detail exactly what we can expect from those.
It certainly seems very much like the end of an era, with EA very much the only megapublisher in the videogame industry for a long time. Recent economic turbulence has led to a situation that’s more than a little difficult for the company though, and it’s been shedding staff from some fairly core studios lately, which had led to speculation that things might be going worse than imagined.
Now though, Reuters is reporting that EA’s CEO, John Riccitiello, has described a new plan that would see the publisher releasing far fewer big-budget games every year. According to Riccitiello, the company currently releases around 50 major game titles every year, and would like to see that cut back to 40 next year, but those plans go further, with Riccitiello going on to say,
“Thirty wouldn’t shock me at some point in the future.”
Of course, EA will likely be managing to make an awful lot more money out of “social” and “casual” games than it does from the “hardcore” market. The fact is, and this is a statistic that’s not trotted out nearly as often as it needs to be, Ubisoft has made an awful lot more money from the Petz franchise than it ever did from Prince of Persia, a series with multiple best-sellers and a couple of game of the year contenders…
For a long time now, “hardcore” gamers have effectively had their content subsidised by “casual” games. It’s not too surprising, given the reach of those casual and social games, but it certainly does help to provide some solid reasons for EA to be moving into a more casual direction. It’s sad that it boils down to purely economic terms, but sometimes there just isn’t enough money in big game development.