In a recent interview with Gamasutra, EA Games president Frank Gibeau indicated that the company's overall strategy to regain marketshare includes a renewed focus in the PC platform. Even more, he admitted that it was "totally conceivable" that the PC will become EA's biggest platform in the near future.
"The user base is gigantic," he said. "PC retail may be a big problem, but PC downloads are awesome. The margins are much better and we don’t have any rules in terms of first party approvals. From our perspective, it's an extremely healthy platform."
Currently all eyes are focused on BioWare's upcoming Star Wars-themed MMOG, Star Wars: The Old Republic. However, EA also has an obvious interest in free-to-play gaming, pointing to the model's success over in China. "If you look at the way people play in Asia, PC is the model," he said. "I think that free to play model is coming to the west in a big way."
EA uses the free-to-play scheme with its online shooter Battlefield Heroes and plans to use the same microtransaction structure in the upcoming PC game Battlefield Play4Free. The latter game is presently in closed beta, but still generating enough revenue to help pay for the game's overall development cost.
EA's revived focus on PC gaming is just a fraction of the company's overall plan to retake the throne as the #1 game publisher in the industry. Its assault arrives on various fronts, from the mobile market to the social network audience to the hardcore console gamer. The company is also seeing a boost in revenue thanks to customers who are purchasing EA IPs across multiple devices (like The Sims 3, Need for Speed Shift etc).
"What we’ve been orienting our company towards is creating IP universes that can exist across those platforms," he said.
EA also plans to move aggressively in the console space for both this generation and the next generation hardware. This isn't surprising given that EA-based console games accounted for 72-percent of its net revenues during the last reported quarter. According to this filing, PC games only generated 14-percent of its net revenue in the same quarter.
At one time, EA was the biggest publisher on the planet. The position was eventually snatched away by Activision Blizzard. However Gibeau believes EA's overall plan will bring the stocks back to their previous heights. "Our earnings are up. We’re on our way back," he said. "If we hadn’t made the changes we did, if we had just kept iterating game after game, we would be irrelevant and in far worse shape than we are now."
See, PC gaming isn't dead, and may save EA from irrelevancy in the long run.