EA embraces Live Marketplace

Publisher offers downloads for sports games, explains strategy.

EA is making a concerted move into downloadable content delivery on Xbox Live Marketplace with the launch of several premium packages for Madden NFL 07 and NCAA 07, and says we're only going to see more of it from now on.

Vice president of online commerce Chip Lange told GameSpot that downloadable content was "a real creative opportunity that we're now starting to embrace".

EA's first releases include two downloadable stadiums for Madden, for 300 Microsoft points (GBP 2.55) each, along with video strategy guides aimed at teaching advanced techniques in both Madden and NCAA, priced at 160 points (GBP 1.36) per guide.

Lange says EA extensively analysed existing offerings on Marketplace to arrive at those price tags. "I can imagine it's probably one of the more thorough pieces of price analytics that have been done on the Marketplace today," he said. "We worked closely with Microsoft on it." He argues that the stadiums, which might seem expensive to some, will provide authentic experiences that fans of individual teams really want.

Going forward with Madden, EA's looking at new modes, uniforms, stadiums, strategy guides and "there's a bunch of other more out-of-the-box ideas that we're looking at" too - although Lange says they will continue to provide roster updates for free. He also raised the possibility of pay-to-play online tournaments.

In a separate interview with IGN, Lange also mentioned that the new Tiger Woods game would offer players a choice when it came to unlockable golf courses - either unlock them the hard way, in-game, or pay a small fee to grab them immediately.

And expect plenty more where all this is coming from, too - and on PlayStation 3 and Wii as well, providing they go that way. "If post-release content becomes a key component of those platforms' release strategies," said Lange, probably licking his lips, "there's no company in the world better to address it than EA."

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