In a recent interview, EA's CEO said that the PC gaming market is the publishers fastest-growing market.
PC gaming is dead, or so console manufacturers and the gaming media over the last five years would have us believe. Every year it seems like another industry head, game developer or media pundit is announcing the death of PC gaming, despite any and all evidence to the contrary. Now, it seems that at least one publisher has noticed that, to paraphrase Mark Twain, rumors of our death have been greatly exaggerated.
In a recent interview with CNBC, the CEO of Electronic Arts, John Riccitiello, said that the PC platform has the fastest-growing software revenues in all of gaming. “Just five years ago, people said that the PC game business was in a radical state of decline because NPD said it was down 10%, 20%, 30% year in and year out,” he said. “The fastest growing platform for video games today is the PC, but it’s growing through subscription, through microtransactions, through downloads.”
With the stagnation of the latest console generation, the bright outlook on the ever-changing and growing PC platform should be no surprise to anyone. Riccitiello was also quick to point out, however, that overall digital sales, an area where the PC has a clear advantage, are experiencing massive growth; this is unaccounted for at NPD, because it’s a category they do not track. EA is reportedly seeing a 40% increase in sales year-over-year in its digital business, in the neighborhood of $1.2 billion in purely digital sales in the last fiscal year.
What about EA’s latest foray into subscription gaming, Star Wars: The Old Republic, you might ask? The last official news, released in May, was that the game was experiencing a drop of roughly 400,000 active subscribers, despite EA giving out a free month to a large chunk of the playerbase. While he gave no hard, direct statements about the future of the game, Riccitiello sang the praises of the free-to-play model of gaming. He said, “We’ve begun to work with different models to bring more users into the game.” It’s possible that he could be referencing their recent shift to a limited free trial, much like World of Warcraft, where players can play to level 15 for free but must subscribe to continue, but only time will tell if the implication is of something more substantial.