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In the next three or fours years, the video game industry as we know it may be radically different. The concept of platform-specific games may fade away, giving way to a market in which it’s possible to play one game on many different devices, be they mobile phones or traditional home consoles.
This may sound far-fetched now, but Electronic Arts is convinced that games will soon inhabit the same world as music or television. The megapublisher is so convinced, in fact, that it’s shaken up its studio organization, merging mobile development with its traditional labels. For EA, if this future isn’t now, then it’s not far away.
“We are emerging as a very different company,” said EA Executive Vice President of Digital Kristian Segerstrale at his GamesBeat 2012 discussion Tuesday. “Our digital business is $1.2 billion and growing rapidly, and the fundamentals are changing rapidly as well.”
EA’s digital business is central to its effort to push games as a service all its own. EA’s proof of concept is FIFA 12, which has sold 11 million copies and averages 5 million players weekly. Segerstrale attributes FIFA’s continued popularity to its strong online infrastructure, which has enabled EA to introduce a steady stream of events, content, and updates to keep the experience feeling fresh.
Going forward, EA’s vision will result in games that are less reliant on individual platforms. “Our vision is to create seamless play anywhere, anytime. We want to connect all of our games across all platforms. Whichever games you connect to, your progress will be recognized and remain consistent.”
FIFA 13 is among the next crop of sports games that will retain progress from one iteration to another, while Madden 13 leverages the iPhone with an app that makes it possible to manage the game’s career mode.
“To me, that’s the true next generation of gaming,” Segerstrale said. “Connecting these devices, connecting these consumers, in ways that no one has ever imagined before.”