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FIFA, Madden Titles Might Not Have Annual Releases

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Yearly titles such as FIFA and Madden may switch to a subscription-based model.

Electronic Arts (EA) Sports releases a new FIFAMadden and NHL game each year. But that might no longer be the case, according to EA CEO Andrew Wilson, who is considering swapping the annual releases for a subscription-based model augmented by patches.

“There’s a world where it gets easier and easier to move that code around—where we may not have to do an annual release,” Wilson told Bloomberg. “We can really think about those games as a 365-day, live service.” Wilson cited subscription streaming services as an inspiration to the possible switch from yearly titles to a title that is updated year-round.

The greatest disruptor to the consumption of entertainment media in the last five years has been the combination of streaming plus subscription. It’s changed the way we watch television. It’s changed the way we listen to music. It’s changed the way I read books.

This sort of model is already on display in South Korea and China. “About every four years we release a big new code drop and we offer incremental change over time. I think there’s a world where that might also happen in other parts of our business,” Wilson also said. This may be beneficial to voracious fans of FIFA Ultimate Team or Madden Ultimate Team, where players can purchase packs of players that they use on their team to face off against other players online. New patches are released for every game, so a release of one game supplemented by patches could easily keep players invested year-round, as well as provide a consistent revenue stream should EA Sports swap to subscription-based models for these games.

EA Sports has recently reported a healthy second fiscal quarter. “We saw a notable shift to digital in our sports titles and remarkable growth in Ultimate Team,” said EA CFO Blake Jorgensen. “Our sports titles have once again shown their value in delivering a stable and dependable performance. This quarter demonstrates how they can drive our business and offers a window into how our games will evolve over the months and years to come.”

Would you pay a subscription for FIFA or Madden NFL?