Electronic Arts Chief Financial Officer Eric Brown told the Citi 2011 Tech Conference that their Online Pass initiative, originally called Project Ten Dollar, hadn’t made “substantial” revenues for the company, but still managed to bring home an estimated $10m-$15 million for the company.
“The revenues we derive from that haven’t been dramatic. I’d say they’re in the $10-$15 million range since we initiated the program.
Mr. Brown went on to point out that the numbers were “found revenue,” and that it came from users who were using EA’s bandwidth “for free.”
Assuming that a figure of $15 million is solid, this would mean that 1.5 million consumers purchased online passes for Electronic Arts games, of which their EA Sports line and their Need for Speed games use the scheme.
According to Gamasutra, Mr. Brown also went on to laud the success of Facebook’s free-to-play title The Sims Social.
Electronic Arts brought in revenue of about $3.7bn for FY 2010.
Analysis: $15 million is peanuts for a company that brings in almost $4bn in revenue. However, this initiative was never really about making money. Instead, it was about training consumers to stay away from used games. EA would much rather people buy a new product, figuring that someone buying a used copy is a totally lost sale. The fact that these used buyers could potentially buy new in the future, or that they’re buying DLC, is seemingly lost on them, but then again, they don’t have to care about things like that. They’re the second largest publisher in the world, and it seems consumers are perfectly OK with being screwed.
What’s troubling to me is EA’s mindset about the issue. Mr. Brown’s comments about users using EA’s bandwidth “for free” are exceptionally tone-deaf. No, Mr. Brown, that $55 used purchase is far from “free,” so treating people who were buying your games for $55 like they’re pirates is insulting to anyone with even a modicum of intelligence.
While it’s not the most anti-consumer thing I’ve seen out of this company lately (their Season Pass rates higher in my eyes), Project Ten Dollar, and the way it’s inspired other, lesser publishers to punish their customers, is just further indication that in, the war between retail and publishers, consumers are once again collateral damage. Hopefully, they’ll get tired of being pissed on long enough to make both sides hurt, because right now, there’s an assumption that these people will always pay money and never go away. Ask anyone who worked for Atari in the 1980s how that works out.