The last time Gamasutra spoke to Ben Cousins, general manager of Electronic Arts' new free-to-play team, was a little over two years ago. At that time he was a producer at the company's DICE studio and was working on the then-yet-to-be-released free-to-play title Battlefield Heroes.
It appears the experiment paid off -- enough so that Cousins is now the general manager of EA's free-to-play division, which has recently released Lord of Ultima, the first new game in the Ultima series in many years. Unlike its forebears, it's a strategy title, and very much in the mold of popular German browser games.
Here, Cousins explains why the company is going this route -- both specifically with this game and more generally its goal with the free-to-play division. He also discusses his thoughts on the market at large, how the company hopes to win back gamers who may have strayed from playing PC titles, and how multiple entry points into a franchise can foster active engagement.