EA Sports’ ‘Persistent’ Player Profile Means No More Starting From Scratch Each Year

EA Sports’ ‘Persistent’ Player Profile Means No More Starting From Scratch Each Year

Each year the new title comes out, sports gamers must re-enter their preferences, their profiles, must re-create themselves in singleplayer careers, must restart dynasties and franchises and online franchises. Remarks by EA Sports’ president hints that their titles may soon put all of that under a persistent experience, imported from a previous version into new releases.

“It’s no longer ‘buy Madden 11 and then buy Madden 12 and start from scratch,'” Peter Moore, the EA Sports president, told the MI6 video game marketing conference in San Francisco. “It is ‘take everything that you’ve done and migrate it and move it along.'”

Now, what this is not, and I can hear everyone typing away already, is the often-proposed model of releasing a new game every two years and updating the rosters via DLC. Again, that type of publishing model does not and cannot make as much money as the current annualized one, certainly not on titles that require annual payments to sports leagues and other licensors. Further, why create a persistent user experience if you’re only going to encourage its use every two years?

No, this sounds like something designed to get people to keep buying that full title, every year. What it sounds like they get, however is no more restarting the dynasty after seven consecutive championships in, say, NHL 13, when NHL 14 arrives.

If that’s the case, that’s probably where this idea is the shrewdest, as hardcore offline dynasty players are the most likely to remain with older versions, as the rosters they’re playing are so far beyond reality that updated ones – the go-to feature even if the engine updates are underwhelming – are meaningless. The enticement to carry all that work to the newest version, and try new features without losing that work, would be a strong sales point for many.

If it is full importation, as Moore’s quote suggests, this has the potential to be a game changer in sports publishing at large, too. Franchise/dynasty/singleplayer career importation has been a long-asked for feature of MLB The Show, and baseball, with a 162-game schedule and 20-year careers, probably needs it more than any other game in the sports genre.

While Moore did not hint at when or what titles would first support this concept, if EA Sports resuscitates its highly regarded MVP Baseball series when 2K Sports’ exclusive licence expires in 2012, I would figure this sort of thing to be an instant differentiator from The Show. Which means The Show should get cracking on franchise and RTTS importation next year, if Madden, FIFA or NHL – which all feature Ultimate Team components restarted with each new version – aren’t already forcing the issue by then.

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