Tuesday, November 14, 2006

EA Bites Back at Marketplace Microtransactions @ IGN

EA has defended its stance on the controversial Marketplace microtransactions in which players can buy and unlock in-game items in exchange for bought MS points. Talking to Microsoft's Major Nelson in his regular podcast, Chip Lange, Vice President of Online Commerce at EA, stated that the publisher was only providing consumers with a choice and that players can instantly unlock something - such as a golf course in Tiger Woods, rather than put 40-50 hours into the game - something which Lang claimed only 20% of people would do.

When drawn upon the issue of charging for what once might have been a cheat code, Lange argued, "There are places where cheat codes are free but those are on websites and those websites are making money by selling advertising." He went on to say, "There'll still be a healthy business around hint guides, magazines, websites… I just look at the Marketplace as yet another extension of ways in which consumers are going to be able to access the content they want."

Major Nelson went on to question Lange about removing cheats from current-gen games and charging for them on the 360 but he evaded the matter by stating, "I don't know if that's right or not. That's not something I've actually gone in and researched." It was certainly the case with The Godfather, where a push-button code to access more cash that was present in the Xbox version was removed from the 360 version.

In the rest of the interview Lange assuaged fears that content which was present in a current-gen game, such as levels, would be paid-for extras on the 360 and he rejected the suggestion that consumers were being short-changed. He went onto anticipate that EA would stick to its current pricing structure, stating, "As the gaming industry becomes more online centric that's going to provide a whole lot more choice to the consumer base provided that the basic package continues to be robust and rewarding."

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