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Billion-dollar monetization giant EA shifts towards singleplayer games

Billion-dollar monetization titan Electronic Arts is now re-embracing singleplayer as it sets up profitable online tentpoles.

Published Fri, Jul 23 2021 3:15 PM CDT   |   Updated Mon, Aug 23 2021 3:05 AM CDT

EA makes most of its yearly revenues from monetized sports juggernauts like FIFA and Madden NFL, but the publisher is starting to shift back towards singleplayer experiences.

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Following the breakout success of games like Jedi: Fallen Order, and with established online anchors like FIFA, Madden, Apex, and Battlefield established, Electronic Arts now seems more open to singleplayer games. While the publisher's billion-dollar live games offerings aren't going anywhere, EA is now diversifying its portfolio across a spectrum of experiences. Live services no longer seem to be required for all of its games.

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The Dead Space remake is a singleplayer game designed to keep players glued to their seat from start to finish. Unlike live games, it will actually finish.

The publisher has a number of singleplayer-driven games currently in development, including a Dead Space remake. This one is actually a big example of EA's turnaround. EA Motive, the team behind the Dead Space remake, says they want to make a game so immersive that players will complete it in one sitting. EA typically never wants gamers to complete its games this fast--EA's $7-billion business is centered around never-ending play, engagement, and player retention.

EA's new change of heart was originally sparked by Jedi: Fallen Order's success, and its tumultuous Star Wars games release slate is the clearest example of this business shift.

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EA's billions are mostly driven by recurring in-game purchases from franchises like FIFA and Madden.

Back in 2020, we noted that Respawn's Star Wars game ultimately changed how EA will make future Star Wars projects. Jedi: Fallen Order is now the fastest-selling Star Wars game of all time.

Another convincing point was Battlefront II's disastrous lootbox controversy, which led to the game being essentially re-built on a monetization level.

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EA cancelled Project Ragtag and closed Visceral Games in 2017, saying that Ragtag wasn't something that gamers would want to come back to for a long time.

Read Also: Why EA closed Visceral and recycled its Star Wars game

Sadly this paradigm shift wasn't enough to save other Star Wars projects. EA has cancelled a number of Star Wars games before Jedi: Fallen Order, namely Visceral Games' ambitious Project Ragtag, a perspective-shifting bounty hunter game described as Uncharted meets Star Wars.

EA originally announced a Star Wars game pipeline back in 2016, but has cancelled three different Star Wars projects over the last five years including Project Ragtag, and two games from EA Vancouver--planet-hopping Project Orca and Battlefront spin-off Project Viking.

EA Motive's Star Wars Squadrons was also a huge departure. It has online multiplayer but no monetization. This is a major turning point for EA, a company that again has typically tried to bake in monetization into all of its games.

Now Respawn is currently developing Jedi: Fallen Order 2, and EA confirms it will reveal new games sometime in 2022.

Lucasfilm has confirmed that EA has multiple new Star Wars projects in development. One of them is JFO2, and another is expected to be a new Battlefront title.

Read Also: Dragon Age 4 development timeline: All the major milestones so far

Another example of a big EA singleplayer game on the horizon is Dragon Age 4.

BioWare's new Dragon Age has been rebooted twice now; first it was an online experienced codenamed Project Morrison, and now it's become a singleplayer-only RPG. Both of BioWare's previous mainline games, Dragon Age Inquisition and Mass Effect Andromeda, both had monetized live services.

While EA is now re-embracing singleplayer games, don't expect online titles to go anywhere. The heavy-hitting live games are a big reason why EA is so comfortable with this new singeplayer focus.

For example, DICE's new Battlefield 2042 is now an online-only monetized live service game, and will join other mTX titans like Madden NFL, FIFA, and EA's newest billion-dollar franchise Apex Legends. This level of deeper online integration means EA is now more free to delve back into singleplayer games.

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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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