EA's CFO Talks How Games as a Live-Service is Taking Over the Industry

"People don't talk about playing the game anymore, they talk about playing the live-service"

EA's Redwood City, CA headquarters Credit: King of Hearts/Wikipedia

Speaking at the 2017 Global Technology Conference, EA's chief financial officer Blake Jorgensen talked about how games as a live-service is quickly taking over the game industry, and how, in his opinion, that's a good thing. 

"What we're really doing is trying to build a live service in which we'll be adding new content constantly to the game and giving people new ways to play the game," Jorgensen said about Battlefront 2. "They can play and earn things, or they can actually pay for things."  

Coincidentally, Jorgensen's talk occurred the same day the company found itself in hot water over its use of hero unlocks. Something not lost of the CFO, who brought it up during the conference. He says it's important to note EA is listening to that player feedback.

"Things that we heard today, we'll tune in the game [and they'll] be different tomorrow," he said. "Now we can change games all the time and react to and design events so people can enjoy the games in different ways over time."

Not necessarily speaking specifically about the controversy regarding Battlefront II – which culminated in an EA employee being sent death threats over a Tweet – Jorgensen added he thinks people "need to be patient, but also really understand we listen to the community very closely, and we will always be changing the game to to make those games better and make the community more excited about playing those games."

When the conversation shifts to how the industry has changed recently in terms of how games can be monetized, Jorgensen said EA's typical first focus is on player engagement, keeping someone connected with a game "they love." From there, he said, they can find ways to monetize and "improve" their experience along the way. 

"We find the consumer doesn't mind that," he said. "They're actually getting a chance to go deeper and spend longer in a game than they ever did before." 

And he certainly has a point there. Though the use of microtransactions is a hot-button issue in the game press, the fact they haven't gone away prove they're working. The game industry is a notoriously fickle one; it quickly casts aside mechanics, series and even entire companies if they aren't proving up to snuff. Microtransactions now ship in nearly every game with a multiplayer component. Now, more than ever, games are shifting towards live-service models, and Jorgensen admits to EA's complete participation in that. 

"People don't talk about playing the game anymore, they talk about playing the live-service," Jorgensen said. "And we're not alone; the industry has moved this direction. This is where people are going." 

According to Jorgensen, EA thinks this creates "incredible value" for the player and a fun way of engaging in a game. 

Despite the controversy the company's found itself in the past couple days, nothing about the way its addressed its model and use of microtransactions indicates it's going to change directions. While it did cut the cost of unlocks in Battlefront 2, based on Jorgensen's talk, it doesn't seem interested in abandoning the model at all.