HomeMetaverseHow EA plans to compete with Fortnite and Roblox in the metaverse

How EA plans to compete with Fortnite and Roblox in the metaverse


Electronic Arts’ third-quarter 2023 earnings call on Tuesday was a mixed bag for the gaming giant, but “The Sims” was a bright spot. As marketing dollars flood into platforms like Roblox and Fortnite, EA sees its popular simulation game as its way of securing a piece of the metaversal pie.

Gaming platforms are the closest thing to a truly immersive and persistent digital world today, and brands have taken notice. As games like Fortnite, Roblox, and Minecraft morph into full-service metaverse platforms, marketers have spent millions of dollars partnering with in-game creators to create custom virtual brand experiences within them.

EA didn’t use the word “metaverse” once during its Q3 2023 earnings call, but the game developer has clearly taken note of the revenue-generating potential of user-generated content-driven virtual platforms, or UGC.

“I have no doubt that ‘The Sims’ will be [as big as Fortnite and Roblox] at some point,” said Samantha Ryan, a senior vice president and general manager at EA who oversees studios including Maxis, the developer of “The Sims.” To learn more about EA’s plans to increase the UGC capabilities of its games, Digiday spoke with Ryan for this commentary Q&A, backed by observations from EA’s Q3 2023 earnings call.

This conversation has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.

“For my studios, I have Maxis, which is the gatekeeper to the ‘Sims’ franchise, and Full Circle, which is the gatekeeper to the ‘Skate’ franchise, and both studios are working on future projects that are very ‘game-out’. ‘

Game-out is all about making sure that the game elements and features that people know and love are respected, and that it offers everything they want to keep them highly engaged. And then we put a layer of tools in the game that our players can use directly in the game, combining them and also using them with external tools, so it’s easy to take things from ‘outside’ and put them in the game. . It’s not a surprising strategy, because it’s similar to what some of these other companies are doing.”


Not surprisingly, Ryan focused on “The Sims” in his answer to this question. It is one of EA’s most popular series, if not the most popular, and “The Sims 4” boasted a total of 33 million players as of October 2022, six years after its initial release. (33 million, while a relatively high number of players for any game, is still dwarfed by the 173 million and 400 million users, respectively, who enjoy “Minecraft” and “Fortnite.”)

“The Sims” is a series that is based on building virtual worlds and virtual people to populate them, just like Roblox and Minecraft. Still, as it currently stands, “The Sims” is more of a simulation game, not a true metaverse platformer. While users can share their creations with each other, they cannot co-create simultaneously. In Roblox and Minecraft, socializing with other players in the game is pretty much necessary to keep things entertaining; in “The Sims”, the main gameplay loops are mostly single player.

On the specific changes that will bring games like ‘The Sims’ closer to the platforms of the metaverse

“We’re working on the next ‘Sims’ game, ‘Project Rene’ is its code name right now, and we did an apartment customization test where they were testing how multiple players would build together. Historically, in ‘The Sims,’ you haven’t been able to do that. But it is something that our players have asked for. In fact, they hack it there – there are mods in which two people can build an apartment together. So if modders are already doing it, and it’s really complicated and difficult to use, then of course we should include it in a future game.”


The changes planned for “The Sims” outlined by Ryan above show how the game developers at Maxis are well aware of the inherently social nature of today’s major metaverse platforms. EA is also important in making sure the final product aligns with community expectations, and has recently begun testing prototype versions of its games with a select group of players, sometimes under NDAs, before releasing the final product. launching.

Another key change EA has made to bring “The Sims” closer to its metaversal competitors is the series’ recent shift to a free-to-play live service model. “The Sims is also evolving and growing as a live service,” EA CEO Andrew Wilson said on Tuesday’s earnings call. “In Q3, we took the base game for free and welcomed more than 10 million new players to the community.”

On EA’s UGC Audience Scale

“The good thing about EA is that Maxis, and to some extent ‘Skate’, have already been working in this space. The ‘Sims’ franchise is 23 years old, and user-generated content has been in that franchise since its inception. ‘The Sims 4’, which we operate at the moment, has over 88 million total uploads in the ‘The Sims 4’ gallery; I mean, that’s a lot of content, and we do about 200,000 downloads a day from that very gallery.

We’ve also just announced a partnership with Overwolf to create a destination for downloading mods and custom content, to ensure it’s a little more moderated and curated. That’s one of the challenges with this type of content: that people are often afraid to access it. That’s ‘The Sims 4’ today, and most of the mods out there, you’re creating with in-game tools, but they’re not very easy to access. So in the future, we hope it will be even easier for people to create and even easier for people to access.”


EA’s partnership with Overwolf is another reason to believe that the company sees Minecraft as a serious competitor. Overwolf owns CurseForge, the largest online game mod sharing platform. Millions of users visit CurseForge every month to download Minecraft mods, and now they also receive “Sims” mods every time they navigate to the CurseForge home page.

“We believe that UGC is the future of gaming. Players get more content, mod authors are recognized and rewarded for their creations, and publishers can safely outsource content creation, while encouraging engagement,” said Overwolf CEO Uri Marchand. “Overwolf’s partnership with ‘The Sims 4’ marked a significant step in unleashing the creativity of the community and making UGC more accessible to the entire ecosystem.”

On the formation of a brand/creator economy in the corner of EA’s metaverse

We have already done brand packs with ‘The Sims 4’. We’ve done clothing brands, we’ve done big brands, we’ve done community collaborations. We’ll do more over time, we’re just dipping our toes in now.

‘The Sims 4’ is over 10 years old, so if we have the same kind of common thread, then yes, the genius of our players will inspire the creation of new things. And then we as a development studio can decide, ‘hey, do we want to professionalize that? Do we want to allow them to become sort of semi-pro modders, like others in the Minecraft and Roblox communities have done? There are many things we can do to keep these games running for many years to come, with the players at the center. It’s a self-sufficient wheel that turns, and the players drive it, and when we see something we can support, we jump in and do it.”


Platforms like Fortnite and Roblox are full of branded experiences created by independent creator studios without any input from the platform developers. By contrast, most brand activations in “The Sims 4” are the result of direct partnerships between EA and the brands. If EA really wants to compete with today’s major metaverse platforms, it will need to support the development of a more robust creator economy that allows brands to be activated in-game with minimal EA involvement.

“The future of entertainment is interactive,” Wilson said on Tuesday’s earnings call. By pushing titles like “The Sims” and “Skateboarding” into the metaverse using a game-out approach, EA is betting big on the continued rise of interactive, immersive and virtual media.


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