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Get Ready, Sports Game Subscription Release Models Are Coming

FIFA 18

Get Ready, Sports Game Subscription Release Models Are Coming

For a long time, sports gamers have imagined a model where sports games weren’t released every year but rather every other year to allow for more innovation from edition to edition.

The reality though, is that sports games have long been moving towards a 365-day live subscription model where the game is updated slowly over time.

And it seems EA CEO Andrew Wilson agrees with that idea, Bloomberg has the interview:

Electronic Arts Inc. Chief Executive Officer Andrew Wilson said there may soon come a time when the video-game publisher doesn’t release a new annual version of hits such as FIFA 18 and Madden NFL 18 and relies instead on online updates or subscriptions.

“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 TV host Emily Chang on her show “Studio 1.0.” “We can really think about those games as a 365-day, live service.”

The 365-day streaming subscription model for sports games would look a lot like EA Sports Madden Mobile, which has regularly updated itself over the past three years since being on the market. Wilson cited that game specifically for its user growth as a successful test of the subscription model.

Another thing Wilson envisions is mixing augmented reality in with sports gaming in the future:

Augmented reality could be one of the technologies that bridges the gap between the streaming world and the real one, Wilson said. One day players could earn rewards based on how many eggs they have in their refrigerator at home when they are playing The Sims or get online points for real life drills at soccer practice before playing FIFA. Geolocation tracking could make such events possible, according to Wilson.

“There’s a world not too far away from now where video games move from being a discrete, conscious experience to an indiscreet, subconscious experience,” he said.

“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 TV host Emily Chang on her show “Studio 1.0.” “We can really think about those games as a 365-day, live service.”

Certainly its an interesting concept.

Wilson seems fixated on rethinking the business of gaming much like how Spotify and iTunes both turned music upside down. Moving the companies flagship sports titles away from annual releases to an always-on and consistently updated service subscription certainly seems a bold step into that type of innovation.

But what do you think? Do you think an annual subscription model for Madden or FIFA would be preferable over the current model? Let us know in the comments!

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Executive Editor. Based in Oklahoma.

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  1. this would be cool but it would need to be something you could easily suspend without losing progress. I mean how many of us play Madden for instance all year round. Most of us that play say franchise and so on play in spurts. I might play like crazy the first 30 days after Madden releases, but then I wont touch the game until its had like 4 months of title updates.
    For EA I would pay a flat fee for all their sports games per month if they kept them all on a continuous update cycle. This would make modes like Be a Pro in NHL series a lot more fun as you wouldn't have to start over with a new pro every dang year. :) Same could be said about NBA, Madden and FIFA where you have those same types of career modes.
    The updates would be more like MMO game updates roll out all year around and you keep your current characters going in the ever changing game world.
    Interesting but wonder how exactly this would play out.  What would the price model be?  How often and substantial would the updates be? 
    I always liked the idea of this model but, now that it seems to be a possibilty, I'm a tad bit skeptical of how it will work in practice.  Just don't want this to be a new, more expensive form of microtransactions.
    Only thing that worries me is them just taking away the games, but I think sports games would benefit from biannual releases with patches and roster updates. If possible, of course.
    This move is one I'd be uncomfortable with, despite its upside. If it were to be another subscription, that's something else I have to pay on top of PS Plus/Xbox Live, internet bill, microtransactions etc. But my biggest concern, if they plan to do updates, just how well would it go? How long would it be to see actual improvement and things that change the game and strive for what would be deemed realistic; creating a better product? A route like this, we as consumers should be on high alert.
    K wait what? I thought this already was the plan. EA basically churns out the same games year after year anyways. 
    If this came from from a company that actually innovates I would be more interested in knowing more
    I agree sport games do not need released every year but a subscription has the consumer lose some control.  What I mean is right now I have Madden 17 and playing it fine, the changes to M18 from what I could tell were minimal to what I care about and I don't care to play M18 and I like how M17 plays.  So I can choose to stay with M17.
    But if subscription based model comes along and you are say 2 years in and Madden feels great and has everything I like as a game....then EA updates the game, tweaks CFM to something I do not like...then I am stuck without the version i enjoyed playing...does this make sense?  :)
    Not sure about this.. Looking forward to a new release every year is exciting, and I don't mind forking over my hard earned money to buy a sports game that I like. Having to wait 2 years for another version of NHL or NBA live is a long time imo.
    Give me the option to customize everything about the game, then we can talk!
    Why move away from what works? Look at NBA 2K and how they have improved and developed their basketball game over the years. EA needs to look at their model and how it worked out for them.*
    Also, they really need to bring back Triple Play!* It's been a long time. We need another baseball game damn it!!*
    Also one thing I don't like is how these game companies get away with charging a full price on digital games. Should be $10 to $20 less imo. Pisses me off tbh.
    monthly subscriptions, or yearly subscriptions.   I say no, especially with digital downloads
    what happens if you dont re-up does your game's license expire.    Software companies are already doing this for their products and I am not a fan.
    IN the end you may wind up paying 2/3 times the cost of the original game with a subscription.  only to pay full price for the next full featured release. then youll repeat the process all over again 
    Wouldn't approve of this move.... some of us enjoy actually owning their games... BTW nobody ever thinks about the people who don't have internet or can't afford it smh
    Wouldn't approve of this move.... some of us enjoy actually owning their games... BTW nobody ever thinks about the people who don't have internet or can't afford it smh
    Wouldn't approve of this move.... some of us enjoy actually owning their games... BTW nobody ever thinks about the people who don't have internet or can't afford it smh
    Wouldn't approve of this move.... some of us enjoy actually owning their games... BTW nobody ever thinks about the people who don't have internet or can't afford it smh
    Is anyone else tired of this subscription stuff? I finally put a $30 limit on monthly subscription. I pay $60 once for Live and $30 for EA access. Have two others that are monthly. People are going to end up spending more on all these than they would have if things were normal same ole.
    I am a bit concerned with this subscription model. Due to the fact that it is a subscription model in general because what other hidden fees are entailed in these subscriptions. For example if l am only a NBA Live fan and don't care about any other game does some of my fees go to maintenance of other game titles. Also what happens if patches end up of causing massive problems with the product are we entitled to have quick solutions to fixing problems that plague a game. Or do we have to wait until EA feels like fixing the problems, in other words whats the turnaround. Also does it makes sense to have physical copies of games anymore since paying for online copies are a bit cheaper.  Guess we should suspect more BETA BUILD games now to JUSTIFY going to subscription base products... 
    EA have been ripping off its customers for years with subpar games both sports and nonsport titles. I am sceptical on anything they say or do nowadays. Other developers can manage to put out good games each year. EA is more concerned with feedback of the "ARCADE" gamers rather than the true "SIM" crowd. 
    I don't buy each sports game every year already, since I play NBA, NFL, and NHL and like to get thru multiple seasons.
    But if this is where you have to pay more than just when you buy the game that would be a problem and I would not be interested. I don't play each game enough to be paying more than once for it.
    Totally disagree with this subscription model stuff.  I don't want to have to pay a monthly fee for a freaking sports game smh.  I get that the monthly fees over a year would more than likely be equivalent to purchasing the game for $60, but it's just the principle behind it.  What if i subscribe monthly for Madden but i forget to pay one month?  That means i cant play the game?  What if they decide to lump all EA Sports titles into one subscription but I only have interest in Madden?  There's just so many scenarios that could happen that im not comfortable with.  I'm very skeptical of this.  They should make subscriptions an option but don't force it on us.   If they go this route I might have to quit gaming.  
    My main video sports game is football and there's not a FB game out tha I'd even think about doing this with.
    Monthly fee to hear how "penalties, dropped passes, inaccurate throws etc..upset some so we nerfed it"
    That's pretty laughable...
    It's all about keeping you from owning a physical copy of the game, same as streaming music subscriptions are about preventing you from owning a physical copy of the music. More power for them, less money for you.
    Will stand semi-alone, but big fan of this. Ideally, it removes 75% of development costs, freeing them up to keep improving existing product via better testing, glitch removal, and continuous updates. The MMORPG model works well.
    There are so many better versions of previous sports titles from earlier years, especially NHL, NBA. If only they would've had the option to make good, great, versus re-inventing the wheel for no apparent reason. The online communities can likewise finally be tamed.
    If there was a flat cost per year - say $100 for all EA Sports titles - I'm all in. I state this knowing EA will no doubt require up front purchase ($60 per) for the base products in year one. 
    Also, presentation is secondary to me over gameplay. As an older gamer, I'm all about sustained experience.
    It's a pathetic attempt at a money grab and if this happens I hope it blows up in their face.
    I want no part of subscription based sports games. If you are waiting on a patch/update each day that passes burns up your subscription period. Sometimes it's takes a month or two for Madden to get to where I want to play it. I don't want to wait and burn portions of my subscription or plan my subscription around when the game is "playable" in my eyes. Sometimes I use test franchises while patches are getting worked out to get a feel for how I want to do things. I want to own the game not rent it even if the rental is for a year.
    This is just a stupid concept.

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