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iPhone interview: EA A/NZ, SEA, South Africa and India mobile general manager, Mark Fordham

Patrick Budmar | April 16, 2013
EA A/NZ, SEA, South Africa and India mobile general manager, Mark Fordham, to talk about the publisher's focus on mobile gaming.

Who is buying EA's mobile games? Console gamers or a broader mainstream audience that may not have played games such as FIFA and Need for Speed before?

MF: We see a broader audience increasingly playing EA games on mobile devices. Many of the barriers that exist to those brands on console are not present on smartphone as we move to a freemium model where the game is free for all to play. Again the quality of graphics on smartphone devices has seen the audience grow considerably. We have a huge fan base on both franchises, and playing on smartphone allows them and new consumers to play our games on the go, especially considering Australia's high smartphone penetration.

One of EA's biggest hits recently has been The Simpsons: Tapped Out. What do you think has enabled the game to become such a hit?

MF: There have been a number of contributing factors to The Simpsons: Tapped Out success. The game has been popular as it let new and old fans connect with the show; create their own Springfield with such a great history of characters; receive monthly content updates with tie-ins to episodes and iconic events like Treehouse of Horrors; and it is free to play. The Simpsons is an extremely popular show and has been over its 23 and counting year run on television. Everyone has a favourite episode.

Which episode of The Simpsons is your favourite one?

MF: Personally, mine is the eight episode of season four ["New Kid on the Block"] where Homer gets thrown out of the All-You-Can-Eat Seafood restaurant.

EA has been increasingly been pushing towards in-game currency, with The Simpsons: Tapped Out and Real Racing 3 being most recent examples of this model. Why does EA view freemium as an opportunity over the typical "pay and play" model?

MF: If you look at the App Store's top grossing rankings, you will see there has been an obvious shift in what our consumers want to play and where they are spending their money. EA has identified that freemium is the future of our mobile business. One key factor of the freemium model is that it removes the barrier of entry and allows a whole new audience to play a product that they may not have played before. By removing the price barrier you are giving consumers an informed choice, allowing them to play for free with the option to transact in the game. In Real Racing 3, for example, there are now more than 1000 races that a consumer has access to play for free with the option to purchase more $R depending on their level of engagement in the game.


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