Sunday, April 29, 2012

Most of us have heard the rumor by now that Nexon has offered to buyout Electronic Arts.  My vote?  Don't count on it any time soon. While Nexon is technically worth more than EA, and may have the leverage to purchase them, I simply do not see EA handing over the reigns to anyone one else.  But what if?  That's what I want to explore here, the "What If" factor.


How would a buyout effect current EA MMO's?

This could be scary in some ways, Nexon is big into F2P MMO's something they are good at, yet typically have so many annoying "Catches" that I don't know if the current player base of EA's current offering of online games would stick around if Nexon A) Purchased EA, and B) Started transitioning EA Titles to F2P.

While I do see some merit in a transition Pay to Play to another system for some of EA's older titles, such as Ultima Online, and Dark Ages of Camelot, I don't see Free to Play (F2P) being the answer.  These games still have a paying subscriber base, and for these titles I'd say a Hybrid model would be better.  Moderately restrictive F2P with tiered account levels up to and including Pay to Play.  Lord of the Rings Online, and Dungeons and Dragons online have seen some success with this type of model, and Everquest recently followed suit.  Maybe EA should jump on the "Freemium" band wagon.

For games like Warhammer, and Star Wars: The Old Republic, I simply do not see a reason that a change in subscription model this early in their life is warranted, would be beneficial, or would be accepted by their player bases. 

How could this effect future titles?

Well for starters Nexon isn't really known as a "Console" title publisher.  If they purchased EA it could have sever effects on many of EA's better franchises.  Would they let EA continue it's standalone operations with a business as usual approach treating EA as a subsidiary that focus' on a different market while absorbing their online titles under their branding?  Or is it possible Nexon would focus on spinning the standalone franchises towards being more PSN and XBox Live oriented?  We don't know and this is where the harm factor comes in if you ask me.  One of the great benefits of stand alone titles is you don't have to hook up with either a friend or random stranger to enjoy them.  Is this something Nexon can manage or is it something they would fail miserably at?  We simply don't know.

Best case is they let EA go about business as usual with one exception.  They establish a "Battle.net" like system for many of the titles that they can add their own brand of "Pay to Win" perks too.  For Example when playing Madden 2015 years from now, and Madden 2016 is just around the corner, instead of having to pick up a new title, you "Purchase" draft picks to continually expand the game, along with graphical updates new systems etc.  When Madden 2016 is released, those players are already included with the updates.  The biggest flaw with this type of system is these games would pretty much require you to eat a huge chunk of your Hard drive space up for Art and changes from what's on the disk, unless they adopted a static system that only added and removed players from rosters as the depth charts of various NFL teams changed year to year.

Worst case?  They shut down EA's console power house to focus on Online titles entirely.


My Final Word

I hope EA doesn't actually consider this, I really don't, unless they work out a contract where they are given some leverage in how the operations still go.  EA isn't a great company, it's not even really a good company in some aspects such as customer service.  But it does pump out some great games, games we all play, have played, and enjoy.  Nexon is based around a different cultures ethics, which in many regards is superior to what we are currently dealing with from EA, in it's entirety isn't something I feel will sit well with most American and European gamers.  A good blend of Nexon's values with EA's and we'd have a good deal going but the risks simply may be something neither us or EA can stomach.  
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