In an interview with Gamasutra, EA president Frank Gibeau reveals that the company has a renewed focus on developing for the PC. A big part of that focus appears to be games for social media platforms like Facebook. FarmVille and games like it are all the rage these days, and piracy probably isn’t much of a concern with those kinds of titles. They don’t cost nearly as much to develop as blockbuster releases, either.
Fortunately, EA has plenty of real PC games in the pipeline. Gibeau points to the upcoming Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO—a PC exclusive—as a big leap of faith for the company. He also says that EA is interested in experimenting with “freemium” titles that charge players for premium content and in-game accessories but allow everyone to play for free. The free-to-play model has had some success in the MMO world, and it will be interesting to see how EA’s Battlefield Play4Free fares with the shooter crowd.
Gibeau acknowledges that PC games may sell poorly in retail, but he calls downloads “awesome” and claims that margins are higher in the PC space than they are with consoles. According to this story over at Joystiq, downloads are estimated to make up 40% of the gaming market. It’s unclear whether those numbers apply strictly to the PC or if they include casual games like FarmVille. However, with Steam sales estimated at a cool $1 billion for last year, it’s clear that PC gamers favor digital distribution schemes. Among our own readers, over 70% buy most of their games via online services like Steam.