EA Sports Takes Steps To Dominate Social Gaming
Electronic Arts is already making major strides to accomplish this goal. In 2009, EA acquired Playfish for $300 million, and is, according to Appdata.com, the #3 developer out on Facebook, with almost 36 million monthly active users. But compare that to Zynga, which has 269 million monthly active users, more than the next three contenders combined. Despite its blue-chip intellectual property, EA has a long way to go if it wants to be number one on Facebook.
But what could end up being EA's ace-in-the-hole is a cross-platform profile it's planning to create to allow players to bring their in-game personnae from console to Facebook, across multiple game titles: "It's no longer, 'Buy Madden 11 and then purchase Madden 12 and begin from scratch.' It's, 'Buy Madden 11 and take everything you have done into Madden 12,'" Moore said.
This is a critical insight for success on Facebook and the broader social Web. Players -- and consumers in general -- are beginning to expect a longer-term relationship when they engage with a game or a platform. Xbox Live's game profile and gamerscore kicked off this trend on the Xbox 360 platform, with gamers collecting achievements across all the games they play. Sony's Playstation 3, Apple's Gamecenter, and Valve's Steam platform all aim to create players' loyalty to the platform by giving them a persistent profile that they take from game to game. It works on the franchise level as well -- in Bioware's Mass Effect series, actions your character takes in the first game carry over into the second and even third, upcoming title.
These sorts of extended user experiences are fast becoming a key differentiator, and not just in the gaming world. Foursquare's dominance of the location-based social world can be tracked at least in part to the game elements it cribbed from services like Xbox Live. If EA is successful in creating persistent profiles across its Facebook games as well as its console titles, it could use them to drive players from console to Facebook and vice versa, bringing in new active users to challenge Zynga's dominance while increasing sales of console title launches.