You knew it was coming didn't you? As spotted by PCGamesN (opens in new tab), a dig through the transcript (opens in new tab) of EA's fourth-quarter earnings report reveals nascent plans for microtransactions and map packs in Battlefield 1 (opens in new tab). Brace yourself for some top-level marketing speak:
"As relates to Battlefield 1 and extra monetization opportunity," CEO Andrew Wilson says, "taking a step back, any time we think about extra monetization inside an experience, we really think about it on two vectors: One, are we able to provide value to the gamer, in terms of extending and enhancing their experience? And two, are we able to do that in a world where we give them choice? We never want to be in a place where there's a belief that we are providing a pay to win mechanic inside of one of our games."
All well and good. EA ought to be familiar with being in a place where the world and its DLC dog believes it's providing pay-to-win mechanics. With the acknowledgement that that's not a fun position to be in, EA should be good at avoiding it. However, Wilson goes on to predict continued growth in DLC revenue (creatively branded "value through choice").
"Given that in Battlefield 1, you will see both macro monetization opportunities from us like maps and large scale content, as well as micro monetization opportunities, smaller increments of gameplay, and then over time, what you will see from us is elements of gameplay that allow gamers to engage and drive, and extend and enhance their experience, much the way people do with FIFA Ultimate Team or Madden Ultimate Team today. We feel very confident in our ability to deliver that in a way that is deemed valuable by our player, and drives increased engagement over time with them."
I do like that £10 map packs are now labelled 'macro'—if you could buy a solid roast dinner for the price, it's not a microtransaction. I'm not so fond of the comparisons with FIFA and Madden Ultimate Team, however. They're hard to pass off as anything but pay-to-make-progress, yet have earned EA in excess of $650 million. And if EA limits microtransactions to a Battlepack-like system for camo or weapon skins, well, didn't they used to come free? Perhaps we've just been spoiled by (opens in new tab) that came late in Battlefield 4's life.