Sep 14, 2022 - Technology

EA CEO says player-made creations will be lucrative for EA

Apex Legends. Screenshot: Electronic Arts

Video game giant Electronic Arts, maker of Madden and Apex Legends, is planning for a future in which player-created virtual worlds are more central to its profits.

Why it matters: Video gamers, already the most active audience in entertainment, are increasingly expected to have a role creating what they play.

Driving the news: EA CEO Andrew Wilson said late Tuesday at a Goldman Sachs conference that the zeal for players to create will change his business as what players make becomes more complex.

  • On a 5-10 year time horizon, what we expect to see, and we’ve started to see this today, is that there will be creation of new worlds that will fit right next to the worlds that we create,” he said.
  • “And people will move frictionlessly between those two things.”

Between the lines: For EA, the creation of more content, by developers or players, is expected to boost playing time.

  • Increases in playing time are then expected to boost EA’s revenue. That's because the company’s games, like many in the industry, are designed to offer players more in-game content to buy for weeks and months after release.
  • “Minutes engaged and money spent correlates on almost a 1:1 basis,” Wilson said. “So whether we create the content or our community creates the content, provided it’s high quality, provided it’s engaging, it represents an extraordinary opportunity for us.”
  • About 20% of EA gamers already create content for its games and 50% of the player-base uses player-made content, Wilson estimates.

The big picture: Players’ appetite to create turned Minecraft into a cultural phenomenon more than a decade ago and is now integral to the success of Roblox, where most experiences are built by regular users.

  • But most games aren't created with building as the main thing players can do.
  • Creation tools in many modern games tend to allow players to modify the look of parts of what they play, including making alternate uniforms in a sports game or custom paint jobs in a racing game.
  • Wilson is predicting more complex player creations that more closely approximate professional work.

The bottom line: The line between game makers and game players is getting blurrier.

  • As it does, it won’t just be the big game studios who expect to make money from player creations.
  • EA’s own Sims series has long had a robust community of modders—people who create alternate items and systems for the games—but EA limits how those fans can make money from them.

Sign up for the Axios Gaming newsletter here.

Go deeper