Last week’s E3 expo in LA was a bit of a wash-out, with little in the way of new hardware or exciting new game franchises. But it’s still the source of countless fascinating interviews with top gaming execs – and the latest hints at the tantalising possibility of the popular FIFA series going free to play in Europe.
VentureBeat sat down with EA Sports boss Andrew Wilson to chat about EA’s portfolio of annual titles, and the future of gaming. It’s a fascinating read, but most interesting are Wilson’s revelations about the success of free to play FIFA in South Korea.
FIFA Online has been available in one form or another as a free to play game there since 2006, and has quadrupled the brand’s business in the country, according to Wilson.
“I think when we had a packaged-goods FIFA based in Korea, I think we were at about a 25 million dollar business down there,” he told VentureBeat. “I think what we’ve talked about publicly is that these days, that’s nearly a 100 million dollar business. That’s a free-to-play experience.”
That’s quite the success story, and intriguingly, Wilson says that it’s “a different business model. And I think we’ll see some of that continue in the west.”
Could we see FIFA go freemium in the UK? It wouldn’t make much sense while the series continues to storm the charts year in, year out – last year’s FIFA 12 sold 3.2 million copies in one week – but it would appear to be something EA Sports is considering. Earlier this year, Konami made FIFA rival Pro Evolution Soccer available through game streaming service OnLive.
Would you play free FIFA online? Would it sully the series? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments below.