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EA On  Mass Effect 3 's Mass-Market Changes,  SWTOR  Beta Interest, Firemint Price

EA On Mass Effect 3's Mass-Market Changes, SWTOR Beta Interest, Firemint Price

May 4, 2011 | By Frank Cifaldi

In a Gamasutra-attended conference call, executives from EA discussed the changes being made to Mass Effect 3 to give it a wider commercial appeal, how much it paid for mobile developer Firemint, and more.

Following separate stories on EA's sports prospects and on the company 'shifting to offense', we've made note of some of the highlights of the call, which followed Electronic Arts' fiscal quarterly results, below.

On Mass Effect 3

"This franchise is a personal favorite of mine," said EA CEO John Riccitiello of the BioWare-developed conclusion to the epic sci-fi trilogy.

"One of the things the team up at Edmonton has done is...essentially adjust some of the gameplay mechanics and some of the features, which you'll see at E3, that can...essentially address a far larger market opportunity [than Mass Effect 1 or 2]."

According to EA's Frank Gibeau, the now-delayed game's E3 presence will reveal "some feature innovation and some new ways to play."

The PSN Outage

Responding to an inquiry during the conference call's question and answer session, EA's Eric Brown confirmed that the outage of Sony's PlayStation Network will affect EA's business, and that the company has adjusted its Q1 guidance because of it.

"We think there's a modest impact that we've already factored into the upcoming quarter," he said. "Our hope is that it comes back online as quickly as possible."

The Firemint Purchase

"One of the things we rather enjoy here is acquiring companies and then having people speculate that we spent five times more on it than we actually did," said Riccitiello, referring to both initial reports of its acquisition of Angry Birds publisher Chillingo last year and its just-announced Firemint (Flight Control) acquisition, saying that the purchase price was "vastly lower" than the one reported by some outlets.

According to Brown, the acquisition cost EA "less than $25 million."

Beyond The Box

"If you try to evaluate any of [EA's franchises] just on packaged goods, you're missing the larger picture and the larger opportunity that we have with EA," said Riccitiello, in response to an analyst saying that Dead Space 2 sales were lower than he'd hoped.

"We're pursuing digital in a way that no other company is, and Dead Space is a perfect example of this," he continued, claiming that only EA can take a franchise and expand it successfully to smart phones, social networks, DLC, and microtransaction-based purchases.

"We're not trading dollars for pennies, we're in fact adding new revenue streams and increasing the interest in our existing business model while adding a newer business model," he said.

The Old Republic

"Interest in the beta is exceedingly high," said Gibeau in response to an inquiry about BioWare's MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic. According to him, customer intent purchase and quality ratings among the game's beta testers is at the "very high end" of what its testing group partners have seen.

"We're very excited and confident that we've got the right game," he said.

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