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Summary:

The growth of online gaming make this the last year that Electronic Arts (NSDQ: ERTS) will produce offline-only games, said CEO John Ricciti…

imageThe growth of online gaming make this the last year that Electronic Arts (NSDQ: ERTS) will produce offline-only games, said CEO John Riccitiello, speaking in a Q&A at the Dow Jones/Nielsen Media and Money Conference. He sees the growth of gaming constrained mostly by piracy and the difficulties in getting in-game ads right. “Those areas have a lot of hurdles and they aren’t small hurdles either.”

On DRM: In September, EA lifted some of the DRM protections on its popular release Spore after players began posting complaints on Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) and other sites. Riccitiello said he felt the controversy was blown out of proportion, but he does acknowledge the inconvenience to users that DRM creates. “We’re still working out the kinks. We implemented a form of DRM and it’s something that 99.8 percent of users wouldn’t notice. But for the other .2 percent, it became an issue and a number of them launched a cabal online to protest against it. I personally don’t like DRM. It interrupts the user experience. We would like to get around that. But there is this problem called piracy out there.”

On in-game ads: Asked what sort of advertisers EA likes to work with for its in-game ads, Riccitiello said, “We would partner with anyone who writes a check.” But in-game ads, while lucrative, still represents relatively small portion of non-traditional marketing dollars. “And there are large hurdles to doing it successfully. Some companies don’t recognize that consumers paid $60 for a game. That said, we believe in in-game ads. We just ran one for Barack Obama’s campaign, not the typical sort of ad for a game.” And with Google (NSDQ: GOOG) expanding the test of the In-Game AdSense system earlier this month, would EA be interested in participating in some way? “I always pay attention to what Google is doing. Right now, the In-Game AdSense initiative isn’t something that large. But when they want to take a meeting, we’ll be willing to listen.”

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  1. Paul in Chicago Tuesday, October 14, 2008

    Too bad EA hasn't fully embraced trusting its customers more. Another blog noted Pete Hines has announced that Fallout 3 will ship with little to no DRM whatsoever because they want to trust their paying customers. See http://www.aeropause.com/2008/10/fallout-3-to-ship-on-pc-minus-drm/

    If you want to pressure EA games to unbundle DRM and SecuROM, there’s a campaign that just started to refuse to buy EA games until they remove DRM and SecuROM from their software. Check it out at http://www.thepoint.com/campaigns/ea-games-without-drm-and-secu-rom

    Figure each game costs $50 minimum, and if 500 people sign on, that would be $25,000 in lost revenue. For its loyal customer base, secretly adding DRM and SecuROM in their install is just not the way to treat us.

    The three issues are that DRM and SecuRom are being installed without the user realizing it; DRM limits the number of computers you can install it on; and SecuROM has been affecting some people’s computers to the point that they needed to re-format their hard drive and uninstall the game to get their computer returning to normal.

    And it takes just a minute to sign up. You can even sign anonymously.

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