Virtual Economy, Real Money

While it seems counterintuitive, the hottest trend in the video game industry is giving away games for free, then offering a deeper-level of interaction — for a fee.

Whether it’s new titles, like “Smurfs’ Village” on iPhone or old standards like “EverQuest,” publishers are in a race to offer free-to-play games — sometimes known as “freemium” games — and in many cases, it’s making them a fortune.


EA’s Bernard Kim on taking The Simpsons freemium

EA social and mobile vice president Bernard Kim explains to Gamasutra why America’s most treasured dysfunctional family just might give the company the Smurfs’ Village its portfolio lacks.

When a franchise has aired 500 different episodes on television (and that’s not counting the three years it ran as a series of shorts) and 24 separate video games, figuring out the next move can be tricky.

A big console game is a risk for a licensed property these days. A $2 or $5 iOS game might make an initial splash, but its sustainability is questionable given the constant flood of new titles. But freemium? That’s something The Simpsons hasn’t tried before.

Read more at Gamasutra

Astonishingly expensive Theme Park hits iOS

Electronic Arts is bringing the classic game Theme Park back from the dead, but the price of admission may make most players choke.

The new take on the old management simulation will be a free download for owners of iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. But if you want to build some of the better attractions in your park, it could cost you more than the original version did at retail back in 1994.

Read more at Yahoo! Games

Electronic Arts Goes ‘On the Offensive’

Electronic Arts hasn’t exactly been a darling of Wall Street in recent years.

Battered by a string of earnings disappointments and underperfoming titles, the video game publisher has seen its archrival Activision-Blizzard take away king-of-the hill status among industry peers, and watched its stock price fall. But Frank Gibeau, the president of the EA Games label, says the company has made the necessary changes to get back on top.