Thursday, 13 May 2010

Riccitiello Defends ‘Online Pass’

Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello has defended the company's strategy to get consumers to purchase titles brand new.

EA recently unveiled the "Online Pass" for its sports titles. If you buy the game new you are given a code to enter which will grant you access to features that would otherwise be locked (had you bought it used / rented it). These features might include basic multiplayer modes and online connectivity. You can buy the pass for $10. Riccitiello commented on the company's financial call yesterday:
"We think it's a great idea, we think it's going to build our business, and we think it's a positive consumer experience. Invariably, the consumer is getting a boat load more content to experience than they otherwise would."

"We used to literally pull our teams off of a game within four to six weeks pre-ship and they'd go work on something else because the game was done. Our teams are being held in place up through and beyond ship to continue to create content to entertain the consumer with the franchise they like best."
COO John Schappert has noted that the code redemption rate for new titles reached 70% among customers. However, the percentage customers redeeming the code who bought preowned titles was lower than 10%:
"By giving people this access code, we got them into the online world."

"We've seen a very strong uptick in downloadable content across all of those titles because we had content available on day one, and we seeded it with a bonus token of free content."
There needs to be a happy medium struck here with retailers and publishers. There needs to be an option for those less affluent to buy titles at a lower cost whilst still contributing to the publisher. But of course it is always easier to screw the consumer.

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