If I said “live service video game” to you, would you describe the feeling of dread generated as something akin to a shiver running down your spine or Jason Voorhees practising acupuncture with a machete on your vertebrae? The gaming industry today is one wherein live service games rule, an idea that sounds impossible on paper because how can so many games of that sort flourish when they all require a hefty chronal investment from the player?
Just look at the current playing field: Anything from Ubisoft automatically exists within a sandbox that is regularly updated, Warframe exists as possibly one of the most important freemium games of this generation and then there’s EA. A company whose biggest release this year was met with disdain and a resigned shaking of the head. PS it rhymes with hanthem.
Here’s the thing about EA: Even if they have one high profile fail, the live service gains that they’ve made in the last financial year are still bringing in levels of cash that can only be described as obscenely stupid. That’s the news according to EA’s latest reports for the first quarter of the year. According to said figures via GameSpot, EA made an astounding $1.2 billion in revenue, up from last year’s $1.1 billion in the same quarter.
The noteworthy nugget of information here is that digital revenue made up the lion’s share of that haul, factoring in at $1.049 billion while physical game sales and other sources only accounted for $160 million in total. Those numbers meant that EA could cash in a cool $1.42 billion, which according to my maths is significantly more than the $293 million that they banked during the same time period in 2018.
That increase came from several factors, most notably the fact that EA squirrelled away its IP rights to its new Switzerland headquarters, where more generous changes to income tax rates in the neutral zone resulted in the gross profits. EA can also thank live services for adding so much coin to its Swiss coffers, as those gameplay elements, subscriptions and their various microtransactions brought in over $504 million in digital net for the trailing twelve months behind them and thus creating a windfall of $2.461 billion in total.
Long story short? Live services are kind of profitable and with results that allows EA executives to have enough cash to legally be allowed to hunt peasants in certain dodgy East-European countries, the number of games offering such content are only going to increase for as long as people are willing to do a little of the ol’ pay ‘n play.
Last Updated: August 1, 2019