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EA "dropped the ball" on next-gen switch

But free-to-play has turned around fortunes.

Electronic Arts has admitted it struggled to cope with the transition from GameCube, PlayStation 2 and Xbox to PlayStation 3, Wii Xbox 360, but has insisted it is now right back where it wants to be.

"Through this last transition to the PS3 era... for a whole bunch of reasons that aren't worth getting into in a short answer, I think it's fair to say we dropped the ball," CEO John Riccitiello said at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference, reported by Gamasutra.

"Our IP deteriorated, our costs went up, and we didn't really have an answer for the rise in digital."

Now, though, EA is back in business, and, according to Riccitiello, it's all down to free-to-play.

F2P is "a better model than pay to play," he said. Revenues from FIFA Ultimate Team quadrupled from $10 million to $40 million when EA made the FIFA add-on free, he revealed.

"As the head of our Playfish division likes to say, 'There's no such thing as free to play... It's play first, pay later,' and that's a very compelling model."

He added: "Our FIFA business is a leader on iPhone, a leader on Android, a leader on social networks, a leader on free-to-play. We did it with Dead Space, we did it with Mass Effect, we did it with Dragon Age, we did it with The Sims."

Meanwhile, Riccitiello offered his thoughts on the motion controller debate. While he remains confident in the likes of Kinect, PlayStation Move and Wii for exercise and dancing games, "Other genres - first-person shooter, driving, role-playing, strategy - I tend to think that the more traditional controller is likely to be superior hardware.

"I think it's more horses for courses rather than either of these controller devices are going to replace what's gone before."