EA's latest billion-dollar bet is its biggest yet

Forget streaming, forget subscriptions: Cross-play is EA's biggest new endeavor.

1 minute & 51 seconds read time

EA is finally embracing cross-play, the games industry's most potent new money-making strategy.

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Cross-play is the future of gaming. Unifying consoles and PC in a new wave of platform agnosticism is the next billion-dollar step for gaming's biggest companies, and represents a brave new world for engagement and monetization. Here at TweakTown we've long talked about how instrumental cross-play is for service games. Just look at Warzone, which has quickly risen to become the most important thing Activision has ever done. EA is taking notice, and they want in on the action.

Today EA announced they're launching a new cross-play initiative starting with Need For Speed: Heat. This is just the beginning. Like Activision-Blizzard, we should expect EA to bake cross-play into all of its mainline games, especially juggernaut annualized sports games like FIFA and Madden. Another big use case is the F2P battle royale Apex Legends, which has generated tremendous earnings for EA.

"At Criterion, we've always believed that games are better with friends. We don't want your platform of choice to be a barrier for that experience. So we're thrilled to let you all know that on June 9, Need for Speed Heat will be the first EA title to offer cross-play, meaning that players - regardless of their platform - can jump into Palm City together as one, united community," Criterion Games general manager Matt Webster said.

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Cross-play feeds every part of the engagement cycle and helps facilitate a wider userbase.

So why add cross-play? There's a simple goal here: To maximize engagement and player retention. One of the best ways to do this is to create a wider playing field with more gamers. Instead of monetizing several separate rivers, EA wants to merge everything together into a giant ocean of churning engagement, revenues, and content.

Cross-play will (and has) transform gaming as we know it. Online-driven multiplayer games benefit from this the most simply because there's more people to play with. The more people there are, the more people will play and continue to play, driving up MAUs and DAUs and increasing monetization potential. It's the ultimate driver to keep players sticky in the ecosystem.

Activision-Blizzard has fully embraced cross-play into all of its future games. Everything from the new Call of Duty Cold War game to Overwatch 2 and Diablo IV will support it. Cross-play is simply too valuable not to implement.

We should expect Electronic Arts to do the same.

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Need for Speed Heat - PlayStation 4

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Derek joined the TweakTown team in 2015 and has since reviewed and played 1000s of hours of new games. Derek is absorbed with the intersection of technology and gaming, and is always looking forward to new advancements. With over six years in games journalism under his belt, Derek aims to further engage the gaming sector while taking a peek under the tech that powers it. He hopes to one day explore the stars in No Man's Sky with the magic of VR.

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